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Australian health officer tells citizens to not talk to each other — 'even ... your next-door neighbor in the shopping center' — to prevent COVID spread

Image source: Sky News video screenshot

The chief health officer of New South Wales, Australia, told reporters Tuesday that in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, citizens should avoid talking to each other.

What did the doctor say?

"Whilst it's human nature to engage in conversation with others — to be friendly — unfortunately this is not the time to do that," Dr. Kerry Chant said.

"So even if you run into your next-door neighbor in the shopping center … don't start up a conversation," Chant continued. "Now is the time for minimizing your interactions with others. Even if you've got a mask, do not think that affords total protection. We want to be absolutely sure that as we go about our daily lives we do not come into contact with anyone else that would pose a risk."

What's the background?

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Sunday that a serious COVID-19 outbreak is underway in New South Wales. NSW is a state in southern Australia; Sydney is its capital.

More from the paper:

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Saturday announced a major tightening of Sydney's lockdown restrictions as the state recorded 111 new cases. The construction industry will be shut down for two weeks from Monday, all non-critical retail stores closed and tough new restrictions have been imposed on residents in south-west Sydney to halt movement.

The government is now considering whether public transport services will be reduced as the new restrictions force a greater number of workers to stay home.

"I can't remember a time when our state has been challenged to such an extent," Berejiklian said, according to the Morning Herald. "I can't remember a time when government had to make these difficult decisions."

'It's all a bit much, isn't it?'

Sky News host Chris Kenny didn't like what he was seeing or hearing, and he declared that the "state premiers are inflicting enormous harm on their citizens, communities, and economies because of their political obsession with zero COVID because they think it's the lesser of two evils."

Kenny also aired Chants' comments regarding NSW citizens not talking to each other and said afterward in a mocking tone: "Eyes on the ground, no chatting with friends or neighbors."

He added, "It's all a bit much, isn't it? It's about infantilizing the population, it's about the Nanny State, it's about control — 'government knows best, and to hell with personal responsibility.'"

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