‘Victoria has done brilliantly getting the evil genie back in the bottle,’ tweeted Australian Republican Movement chair Peter FitzSimons. ‘Is it me, or is Victoria a beacon for the world on how, with strong leadership and smart population, you actually CAN get on top of a coronavirus catastrophe by taking extreme measures quickly, and suffering early, for greater good later,’ he rhapsodised. ‘Can anyone — particularly the sneering and endlessly carping critics — name another democratic country, state or province that has achieved the same?’
Of course, they can. South Korea and Japan outperformed Victoria controlling their Covid outbreaks, with the same calm efficiency that killed off Victoria’s car industry. At the peak, South Korea had 851 cases/day and Japan had 1,998 cases/day while Victoria had only 751/day. Yet both got the outbreaks under control within a month, without a lockdown, and with a Covid fatality rate of only 9 deaths per million in South Korea and 14 dpm in Japan, compared with 128 dpm in Victoria. What is frustrating is that South Korea controlled its first outbreak so early in March that Australia could have avoided lockdowns altogether if had we followed their example. Or paid attention to Taiwan. But for all the chirruping praise of multiculturalism on the Left, we ignored the hard-won experience Asian countries gained battling Sars in 2003.
If Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was inspired by anyone in Asia it was Chairman Mao, who said, ‘Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.’ Instead of containing Covid with high tech precision, Andrews unleashed a wrecking ball; demolishing the economy was collateral damage. On Monday, he was cock-a-hoop that new infections and deaths were finally down to zero, crowing that ‘This is a day every Victorian should be very, very proud of,’ ignoring the fact that the virus only got out of control because of his blunders. Melburnians will now be able to visit each other’s homes once a day in groups of two adults and dependent children, a rule that Andrews says will remain in place indefinitely. Like most of his diktats, it has no scientific rationale and fails to address the deadliest disease vector which, since the closure of hotel quarantine, has been the transmission of the virus from hospitals to aged care facilities via more than 3,500 workers who have been infected in both since the second wave started.
From the outset, the weak link in Victoria has not just been its pencil and fax approach to contact tracing, but its infection control. Testing to ensure masks fit is mandatory for our miners but not for Victoria’s health and aged care workers. Controls for workplace biohazards like cleaning and ventilation are still not in place, and there is still no segregation of cohorts of workers to avoid cross-infection, as happened in a Box Hill hospital this month. In a sad indictment of the government and the unions, Professor Nancy Baxter, head of Melbourne University’s School of Population and Global Health says that despite the ongoing threat of infection, workers are too frightened about losing their jobs to speak out. Yet, unless infection control is fixed, it’s only a matter of time before the next outbreak.
Anthony Albanese called for parliament to applaud Victoria but as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg pointed out, Andrews should not be feted for his deadly errors and for most Victorians, the achievement amounted to little more than grim endurance of false incarceration. If Frydenberg follows the lead of British Chancellor Rishi Sunak who announced this week that officials would publish the economic and health costs of lockdown alongside daily Covid statistics, the absurdity of praising the premier might embarrass even the #IStandWithDan fans.
As leader of the Left’s cheer squad, the ABC claimed, ‘Victoria is the envy of the world today,’ and that only Victoria and Singapore had surfed a second wave and returned to single-digit cases numbers. Yet Singapore’s achievement came with far less loss of life, just 5 deaths per million, whereas with over 800 deaths Victoria ranks 151st on the deaths per capita table. (The rest of Australia totals fewer than 100). The ABC is not alone in being obsessed with case numbers, which are being used to justify further restrictions in the UK, France, Spain and Italy amongst others, while ignoring per capita mortality rates which have plummeted almost everywhere. Time magazine claimed this week that the third wave in the US was worse than the first two because cases are skyrocketing even though the per capita death rate has fallen by almost two thirds.
The wilful ignorance of the Left extends to treatment. This week Labor Senator Kristina Keneally asked Australia’s top health officials whether they supported the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Predictably they said no giving shadow health minister Chris Bowen the excuse to demand that Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly be prevented from spreading ‘misinformation’ about HCQ. Bowen was parroting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who this week praised social media platforms for censoring ‘misinformation.’ In the case of HCQ, the ‘misinformation’ now includes 91 peer-reviewed studies which show that when the drug is used as early treatment there is a median improvement in outcomes of 64 per cent. This is supported by the real-world evidence of countries that use HCQ to treat Covid (India 86 deaths per million, Indonesia 49, China 3). Meanwhile, Australia continues to use Remdesivir even though it showed no benefit in the recently announced results of a large randomised trial conducted by the WHO. Will social media — which venerates the WHO is the final arbiter on health — censor those who insist Remdesivir works? Don’t hold your breath. Doing his bit for Project Fear, Guterres claimed ‘the Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest crisis of our age,’ because one million people had already died. It seems strangely myopic. So far this year, more than 10 million people have died of communicable diseases, 1.3m of Aids, 6.7m of cancer, 1.1m in traffic accidents and 6m children under five.
When asked if with the benefit of hindsight, he would have done anything differently, Andrews responded sourly, ‘I don’t have hindsight. None of us do.’ None of us? If only Andrews would put away Mao’s Little Red Book and channel Confucius for a change. The sage observed that there are three ways of learning wisdom; by reflection, which is noblest; by imitation, which is easiest; and by experience, which is bitterest. Unfortunately, Andrews has eschewed all of them. Little wonder then, that Victoria’s lethal lockdown has dragged on for so long, led by a man who refuses to admit he has made mistakes, and now confesses that he is incapable of learning from them.
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