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ELep

With the beauty of hindsight should AU and NZ borders been closed earlier?

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Hi all. I know this COVID-19 business has a long way to go and 20/20 hindsight is a beautiful thing, BUT, what are your thoughts around whether perhaps Australia and New Zealand should have closed their borders earlier? Perhaps mid February?

 

COVID-19 has come from overseas. If borders where closed earlier and self isolation was enforced earlier, would our medical system and economy be in better shape? I am sure that the govt was trying to avoid total closure of the travel industry, but it's been decimated now anyway, along with many many other parts of the economy.

 

It seems particularly tragic for the travel industry that the domestic  sector is in tatters too, when this holiday period offered some hope for many after the bush fires. International closure earlier may have protected our domestic travel sector a little?

 

Anyone got some thoughts? Would our populations have accepted the closure earlier? 

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That is a tough question.  I would want to know what would the possibility be that it was here undetected already.  Australia and NZ have large Chinese populations and students studying here, who travel between China and Australia/NZ.

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On 13th February when Australia restricted entry of people from China, they were accused of being racist. Realistically, I don't think anyone would have suggested closing the borders totally in mid February and I can just imagine the outcry if the government had. In hindsight, yes, it would have reduced the number of infections, but we could not have kept the virus out totally. We could not stop our own people from coming home. An example is my daughter-in-law's sister who returned to Australia from Europe on 7th March and was found to be carrying the virus. She had no idea she had it.

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It is a very tough call. As the government has said people are going to commit suicide over this whole situation. The loss of work, loss of freedom, no weddings, no funerals, they are expecting an increase of suicide. Preventative life saving operations are going to be put on hold to save the beds in the ICU for this virus. That means people will die that ordinarily would not have died had they got treatment.

 

No government wants to hit the panic button until they are absolutely certain that this is how bad it will get.

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56 minutes ago, Aus Traveller said:

On 13th February when Australia restricted entry of people from China, they were accused of being racist.

 

As I recall not many people said that, and if they did, since when has this government been so sensitive? I thought it was dedicated to doing what it sees as the right thing no matter what anybody says. Ask the boat refugees.

 

The point I think was that if you restrict those from China, why not Italy and the US?

 

If those extra restrictions had gone into place at that time we would be in a far better position now.

 

13 minutes ago, DiamondFour said:

No government wants to hit the panic button until they are absolutely certain that this is how bad it will get.

 

There is no such thing as certainty in this situation. We elect these guys for their judgment and foresight. We didn't get much.

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2 hours ago, MMDown Under said:

That is a tough question.  I would want to know what would the possibility be that it was here undetected already.  Australia and NZ have large Chinese populations and students studying here, who travel between China and Australia/NZ.

From memory students from China were unable to get into AU by about 31/1/20? The universities were scrambling to come up with ways of ensuring that international students were not disadvantaged.

 

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1 hour ago, Aus Traveller said:

On 13th February when Australia restricted entry of people from China, they were accused of being racist. Realistically, I don't think anyone would have suggested closing the borders totally in mid February and I can just imagine the outcry if the government had. In hindsight, yes, it would have reduced the number of infections, but we could not have kept the virus out totally. We could not stop our own people from coming home. An example is my daughter-in-law's sister who returned to Australia from Europe on 7th March and was found to be carrying the virus. She had no idea she had it.

The tough bit is aussie residents and citizens bringing back in with them. It seems that many did not properly self isolate as they should have. Now that we are down to the last trickle of returnees the govt is enforcing it. It would have been difficult to enforce when 0000's are coming back in every day.

1 hour ago, DiamondFour said:

It is a very tough call. As the government has said people are going to commit suicide over this whole situation. The loss of work, loss of freedom, no weddings, no funerals, they are expecting an increase of suicide. Preventative life saving operations are going to be put on hold to save the beds in the ICU for this virus. That means people will die that ordinarily would not have died had they got treatment.

 

No government wants to hit the panic button until they are absolutely certain that this is how bad it will get.

The govt was certainly nervous about what had to be done. Understandably. I doubt the population would have accepted it in early-mid Feb. Maybe some lessons will be learnt for "next time"

 

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1 hour ago, ELep said:

The tough bit is aussie residents and citizens bringing back in with them. It seems that many did not properly self isolate as they should have. Now that we are down to the last trickle of returnees the govt is enforcing it. It would have been difficult to enforce when 0000's are coming back in every day.

The govt was certainly nervous about what had to be done. Understandably. I doubt the population would have accepted it in early-mid Feb. Maybe some lessons will be learnt for "next time"

 

When my daughter-in-law's sister came back to Australia on 7th March (infected with covid), there was no mention of self-isolating until after she was diagnosed. Isolation on arrival was put in place only fairly recently for everyone arriving in Australia.

 

I agree with your comment that the population would not have accepted the current restrictions in mid Feb. I believe we would have felt they were totally 'over the top'.

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Posted (edited)

Singapore had specialised medical units in ready to be deployed in epidemics for testing and diagnosis, they started social distancing as soon as the first case appeared way before Australia. Both Taiwan and Singapore enforced and monitered people in self isolation. Both countries were rolling out tests to pretty much anyone who wanted one and stocked up on gloves masks and other medical equipment they thought they would need. Australia didn't have to close borders in February but we could have prepared more and done more than just ban people coming from China so that we didn't have to put the whole country in lock down later. A doctor on TV put it best when he said "when a virus is bringing China to it's knees, that is a sign this is very serious"

Edited by ilikeanswers

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Aus Traveller said:

On 13th February when Australia restricted entry of people from China, they were accused of being racist. Realistically, I don't think anyone would have suggested closing the borders totally in mid February and I can just imagine the outcry if the government had. In hindsight, yes, it would have reduced the number of infections, but we could not have kept the virus out totally. We could not stop our own people from coming home. An example is my daughter-in-law's sister who returned to Australia from Europe on 7th March and was found to be carrying the virus. She had no idea she had it.

 

Agreed Aus Traveller and good points. 

 

I only look back to see whether things could have been done better, not if something should have been done that there was no justification to do.

 

I also don't think even with hindsight a global ban would have been beneficial. The only change I would say would have reduced things - but without any justification at the time - would have been to ban travellers from the US in conjunction with China. That would have improved domestic health - but overall it still wouldn't change the global situation and hence there would still be the same travel and other issues that there are globally. 

 

Edited by The_Big_M

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2 hours ago, ilikeanswers said:

Singapore had specialised medical units in ready to be deployed in epidemics for testing and diagnosis, they started social distancing as soon as the first case appeared way before Australia. Both Taiwan and Singapore enforced and monitered people in self isolation. Both countries were rolling out tests to pretty much anyone who wanted one and stocked up on gloves masks and other medical equipment they thought they would need. Australia didn't have to close borders in February but we could have prepared more and done more than just ban people coming from China so that we didn't have to put the whole country in lock down later. A doctor on TV put it best when he said "when a virus is bringing China to it's knees, that is a sign this is very serious"

 

Yes, I was previously critical of the government's response early on. I said they were too soft with those needing home isolation and we should have been enforcing it. All they said when challenged was people should put peer pressure on friends to comply! Ridiculous.

 

Now they went the other way and over the top with locking people up...

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I think they were reasonably quick in closing the borders to people from China, Iran & South Korea - and this was the correct decision.  They were far, far, far too slow in closing the borders to people from Italy & the USA.  One wonders if there was a brown vs white people element in the slowness of that decision, and the Australian Govt has form in this regard.

 

Australia's lack of temperature checking at the airports was on obvious oversight, and may have caught many infected people before they even entered the country.

 

Australia's lack of enforcement when it came to self-isolation has been positively criminal.

 

The Australian Govt's handling of the economic situation has been quite good, but their handling of the health situation has been poor.  We've had mixed messages (shutdowns on Monday, but I'm going to the footy tonight - go the Sharks).  The Aus Govt has lagged the Vic, NSW & NZ Govts by 1-2 weeks on every decision they've made.  I just don't think that they understood how serious this thing is, and how easily transmitted it is.  If the had, then they would (and should) have shut things down a lot sooner.

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On 4/1/2020 at 7:14 PM, DiamondFour said:

It is a very tough call. As the government has said people are going to commit suicide over this whole situation. The loss of work, loss of freedom, no weddings, no funerals, they are expecting an increase of suicide. Preventative life saving operations are going to be put on hold to save the beds in the ICU for this virus. That means people will die that ordinarily would not have died had they got treatment.

 

No government wants to hit the panic button until they are absolutely certain that this is how bad it will get.

 

No life-saving surgery is being put on hold, only elective surgery. And if we all do as we are asked, and stay at home and stop spreading the virus, our ICU and surgical capacity will still be there to deal with urgent medical matters which are not related to covid-19.

 

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https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-01/coronavirus-testing-at-sydney-airport-public-health-disaster/12105428  Other issues are the mistakes made at airports with screening and basic infection control. see at the link.

Exacerbated by crowding and zero application of social distancing.

Remarkable that for decades there were strict rules and practices around checking people luggage for prohibited items. Lessons will be learnt no doubt.  

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1 hour ago, pully8 said:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-01/coronavirus-testing-at-sydney-airport-public-health-disaster/12105428  Other issues are the mistakes made at airports with screening and basic infection control. see at the link.

Exacerbated by crowding and zero application of social distancing.

Remarkable that for decades there were strict rules and practices around checking people luggage for prohibited items. Lessons will be learnt no doubt.  

NSW Health Department don't seem to be doing very well - authorise the disembarkation from Ruby Princess, then the doctors' reports about 'risky' testing people arriving at Sydney Airport as reported in the link.

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The NSW health website is excellent however lots of detail about cases and maps.

There seems to be an uncoordinated mess between border force, federal responsibilities, and state authorities and who is making decisions and accountability.

With the cruise ships the authorities are also claiming difficulties with accurate/timely information. who knew what when?

Time will tell.

 

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