The Informer: Imagine being an ICU nurse watching that protest?

Imagine being an ICU nurse watching that protest?

They were scenes reminiscent of protests "elsewhere". This sort of unrest is something we are accustomed to seeing from afar.

But here it was - here it is - front and centre in downtown Melbourne. Protestors leading authorities, including riot police, on a violent, threatening, not-so merry chase through the state capital. It began yesterday and, from all accounts, will continue tomorrow.

From the union offices to state parliament and then onto Melbourne's West Gate bridge, protestors caused chaos for much of the day.

Flares blazed, all manner of missile was pegged at police (and the media, and probably anyone else who stood still), cars and trucks were trampled by the masses - and there was all sorts of other even less appealing behaviour which has yet to be confirmed. And yes, there were Australian flags used as capes as well as reports of a "Trump 2020" flag being flown.

The protestors are opposing a Victorian government mandate requiring all construction workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The government had begged building sites to comply with COVID-safe rules for some time and only yesterday authorities revealed 403 of the state's cases were linked to construction. Those cases are linked to 186 construction sites, 151 of them in Melbourne. Forty-nine cases linked to Melbourne worksites have addresses in regional areas of the state.

No surprise, the rally received little support from health professionals.

One union called on city protesters to "stop thinking only of themselves, stop the violence and put the health and welfare of the Victorian community first".

Australia's virus trajectory has, for a multitude of reasons, differed from that of the United States. Yet, it seems we may have ended up in the same place at the same time on one aspect of the pandemic.

It is believed the delta outbreak in NSW took hold in mid-June, Victoria a tad later. The death toll in that four months is now more than 250. In the US state of Maryland, the third surge of coronavirus, driven by the highly transmissible delta variant, arrived late in July.

Now, those on health front lines in both countries share a tougher view toward the delta variant's biggest target: the willingly unprotected.

The Washington Post wrote this week: "The workers are baffled over how, after so much pain and death, there is still even a debate over whether to get vaccinated or wear amask in public. Their patience is wearing thin, they say."

They call it empathy fatigue.

From vaccinators to paramedics, contract tracers, nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists, the underlying theme is constant. After more than 18 months of the pandemic, they want to help but they can't take away the guilt from people who haven't been vaccinated.

In Australia we're closing in on half the population being fully vaccinated. For the health staff who have literally put their lives on the line since January 2020, fatigue - of any variety - and frustration is completely understandable. Particularly after today.

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This story Imagine being an ICU nurse watching that protest? first appeared on The Canberra Times.