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‘Taking nanny state to new level’: Aussie health official panned for warning football crowd to ‘duck ball’ because of Covid fears

‘Taking nanny state to new level’: Aussie health official panned for warning football crowd to ‘duck ball’ because of Covid fears
An Australian public health official has caused widespread bewilderment online for a video promoting Covid safety at an AFL game, with some questioning whether the whole thing was actually a parody.

Melbourne-based AFL team Collingwood are being allowed to travel for their game on Saturday against the Crows at the Adelaide Oval, despite the state border being closed from Victoria due to an outbreak of Covid cases.

Collingwood – or the Magpies, as they are known – have been granted permission to play because the team is already subject to quarantine measures.


However, only essential staff will fly into South Australia for the game in Adelaide, where full capacity crowds of up to 50,000 fans are allowed at the Oval. 

South Australia’s chief public health officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, issued a statement on Wednesday to justify the decision, describing the risk as "negligible" – but nonetheless giving some helpful advice to those attending the game.

"We’re looking at the seating at the moment and, of course, we’re looking at the ball," Spurrier said.

“Because sometimes the ball, not that I’ve been to many football games, but I have noticed occasionally it does get kicked into the crowd.

"We are working through the details of what that will mean. If you are at Adelaide Oval and the ball comes towards you, my advice to you is to duck and just do not touch that ball.”

The clip generated comment from some bemused Twitter users who wondered whether it was even serious.

“Surely this story is a p*ss take?” wrote one person.

Another added: “This is downright pathetic, not even laughable anymore.”

“That’s it I’m done,” wrote one fan, as another said: “How stupid of a society have we become?”

“Nicola was struggling to sound convincing while justifying the Collingwood exemption and thought she'd go for gold with ‘don't touch the ball, if it's coming at you, duck’.... farcical,” read another comment.

“Wow that’s some real authentic OCD paranoia,” added another observer.

“I care about people a lot and don’t want to see people get hurt/die, but the government needs to allow people to show their responsibilities for themselves and others.

“Taking the nanny state to another level...”

Suggesting a solution to the potential problem of airborne Covid transmission from a flying football, one fan wrote: “Let’s put up a net around the ground then.”

Victoria, which is Australia's second most-populous state, will remain locked down until June 10.

The current 'cluster' of active Covid cases reached 60 in the state on Wednesday, a small figure compared to elsewhere in the world, although Australia continues to operate with an abundance of caution – perhaps best demonstrated by Professor Spurrier.