Alright, I know this will frustrate a good portion of you as we Queenslanders can happily sit behind our border and throw rocks at those infected states.
The media breathlessly talks about more cases in NSW and the death rate in Victoria. If we can just stop anyone from coming into the state and absolutely no international visitors or returning Australians we can go back to business as usual?
There is a problem with this and it comes down to all those businesses that are quietly going to the wall while we continue to live in fear of any sort of infection.
This isn’t the multinationals who own large hotel groups or travel businesses. This is the bus, taxi and uber drivers that move the tourists, the cleaners who sort the rooms, the laundries that wash the linen, the farmers who supply the restaurants, the waiters, cooks, musicians and actors, everyone who is somehow involved in tourism.
As you know from my past blogs, I am not denying the seriousness of this virus and we should be making every effort to protect our vulnerable.
The deaths in aged care facilities in Victoria show how quickly this can impact our elderly.
This is about changing the conversation from eradication back to where it started – flattening the curve.
I, probably like most of you, am very hopeful we will see a vaccine. A vaccine is not quite a silver bullet. You need time to have it work its way through the community. The vaccinated will not all be in the clear. A good vaccine is only about 50% effective. What it does is dramatically reduce the spread of the virus. If ‘R’ (Reproduction) is below 1 then the virus is steadily being worked out of the community. Add social distancing and good hygiene (maybe masks) and you reduce the R even further. This article talks to the situation in Victoria. Worth understanding as this will be important.
Of course, we will be wary of rushed to market vaccines and examples like the Russian solution will be viewed a ‘little’ suspiciously until there is some meaningful data.
So the problem is what do we do until then. Job keeper is looking after staff but that is not helping the business. There is a PAYG refund for businesses but that only helps if you are paying PAYG. It is offset against your monthly or quarterly BAS but you don’t collect GST if nobody is buying your product. While this is going on, government debt just continues to grow and grow and this will be an issue for our children.
From a risk point of view it is important to look at where we are versus where we were?
Queensland first shut its borders on March 24, 2020. On that day we had 498 confirmed cases in Queensland. Including our ‘Melbourne shoppers’ as at 11 August we have had 1,089.
- Currently in Queensland we have 7 active cases and we have had 6 deaths attributed to Covid19.
- NSW, our much maligned southern neighbour has 297 active cases. On March 24th they had 818 cases and in total they have had 3,915 cases. They have had 51 deaths.
- Around Australia – other than Victoria – we have 1 active case in WA, 6 in SA, 1 in Tasmania, 2 in NT and 0 in ACT.
- Qld, NSW and Victoria have done the heavy lifting on international travel with Sydney Melbourne and Brisbane handling the returning Aussies and international visitors. The numbers in June were 40,000 for Sydney, 15,000 for Melbourne and 11,000 for Brisbane. The quarantine issues in Melbourne have been well documented but it looks like NSW managed it very well (let’s not mention the Ruby Princess).
- Excluding Victoria, we are in a much better positon that we were on the 24th of March. We know more about this virus, we have robust contact tracing teams and we have more than enough hospital beds, PPE (personal protection equipment) and ventilators.
- The ‘mystery’ cases are very likely someone doing something wrong and those people not wanting to admit to it. Life goes on and crime hasn’t stopped so there must be people who won’t want to tell authorities what they were doing. Will we be surprised if the NZ cases turned out to have started from something illegal?
If, every time we see a new case, we shut down whole cities we are in for a truly long lasting economic disaster. In New Zealand, they have found 4 cases and shut down all of Auckland – that is a city of 1.6million people.
I can see the anxiety has lifted in our office and when we talk to clients, and I understand it but I really am concerned that this constant bombardment by every news source is going to drive us into a protracted depression – economically and psychologically.
Our Victorian friends are still that and don’t need to be vilified. NSW cases are exactly what you would expect and most are traced.
A line, I like, when dealing with humans is we need to be rigorous, not ruthless. We can protect our vulnerable without ruining our economic future. Maybe we should all watch a little less news and listen to a little less political rhetoric?