Beginning tomorrow, I will be including Australia COVID-19 death data alongside the other international locations I have been tracking (Spain, Sweden, Austria and the USA). I think it's absolutely vital we are all following Australia closely, as they are not only a significant western ally, but a pillar of western values. As a result, everyone should be very concerned about what is happening there right now, and given their data, you will see why it's even more shocking.
First, to give you some perspective on case figures you won't find it my visuals. Australia has a population of 25M people (Ontario has 14.5M, Canada has about 38M). Over the last 24 hours, Australia had a total of 23 new cases, for the entire country. Over the course of the pandemic, Australia has had just 27362 TOTAL cases. That works out to 1094/1M population. In comparison, Canada has had 5030 cases/1M, nearly 5x the case rate. Less than 18% of all Australia's cases are community spread - that's less than 4900 people, or 0.02% of the population. Nearly 20% of cases are travel related and nearly 63% are close contacts of existing cases. There are currently 0 cases under investigation. 75% of all cases (20315) have been in the Melbourne (Victoria Province) area. Just under 16% (4321) are in New South Wales Province, which includes Sydney and Canberra. Just over 4% (1162) are in Queensland Province (Brisbane). The remaining (under) 6% (1562) being spread out over the rest of the country, which includes Adelaide and Perth, and ultimately over 60% of the country's land mass. Also note, Australia, as a nation, has a total of 27 people currently in hospital with COVID-19, just 1 in ICU.
When you look at 3 visuals below that are based on death rate, the black line is Australia. Their TOTAL death rate due to COVID-19 is currently sitting at 36/1M population. For perspective, NS is 65, Canada is 257, Sweden is 578 and the global average is 140. Canada has nearly 5x the case rate and 5x the death rate of Australia. Here are some of the restrictions currently in place in Australia:
Victoria Province (Melbourne and surrounding areas):
- Must wear a mask anytime you leave your home
- Groups of up to 10 people can congregate, but only outside
- Travel to metropolitan Melbourne not permitted except for permitted work purposes, care and compassionate reasons or shopping for food and supplies, if necessary.
- Prior to Sept 28, there was a curfew in metropolitan Melbourne. As of Sept 28, the curfew has been removed. You can leave home at any time for one of the following four reasons:
- shopping for food or other essential items
- socializing or exercise (applies to outdoor exercise, and with your household or up to four other people outdoors, from a maximum of two households). This needs to be in a public outdoor place (for example a local park)
- permitted work, primary and secondary education (when your school and year level are permitted)
- caregiving, for compassionate reasons, or to seek medical treatment
- You cannot travel more than 5km from your home for shopping or exercise. You can travel further than 5km from your home for permitted work, medical care, primary and secondary education, childcare and care or compassionate reasons. If you are a permitted worker you can exercise within 5km of your home or workplace (carrying your permitted worker permit) to exercise outdoors.
- From 11:59pm on Sunday 27 September, you can exercise or socialise outdoors for up to two hours a day, which can be split across two sessions.
- You can socialize with your household members or up to five people outdoors (including you) from a maximum of two households. You must be able to keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others when doing so.
The requirements for Victoria Province to further ease restrictions to their "Last Step" are NO new cases for 14 days straight. The requirements for them to move from "Last Step" to "COVID Normal" is when there are NO new cases for 28 days, no active cases in Victoria and no outbreaks of concern in other states or territories.
Here are some key points about Victoria Province (pop 6.6M), which has experienced the bulk of the cases and deaths in Australia. Their case rate is 3078/1M population, vs Canada at over 5000, Ontario at 4300 and 1120 in NS, for perspective. The death rate in Victoria Province is 124/1M, vs 65 for NS, 257 for Canada, 207 for Ontario and 140 for the global average.
Some of you may take this all in, and ultimately conclude that, whilst the restrictions are harsh, it is probably the reason why they have such a low case and death rate respective to so many other places in the world. Whilst this may very well be the case, where is the balance? Where is the risk assessment? Again, life has inherent risk to living. COVID tunnel vision causes many jurisdictions to implement measures that are aimed exclusively at reducing COVID-19 cases without any consideration for the impact of those restrictions on other areas of life. I don't see how these measures implemented in Australia are measured, balanced or sustainable. Things could get a whole lot "worse" and not even come close to most other countries on Earth. Where would Australia go then? Full lock down, unable to leave your home for any reason? It seems like that's about the only additional restriction they could implement, at least in Victoria Province. People living in Melbourne currently are not allowed out of their house without a mask, they can't go anywhere that is more than 5km from their home (unless for an approved reason such as work or child care), they are told that they can only be outside for up to 2 hours daily, and no more than 2 separate occasions. I'm sorry, but this is absolutely crazy and unacceptable. Are you willing to give up 95% of your rights as a free human being to eliminate the risk of getting sick from near zero, to closer to zero? When does it end? Based on the parameters Australia set out, it would appear it doesn't, at least not for a very long time. Their risk threshold has been set to zero. How is that even close to sensible? We can only hope that legal challenges come in Australia because the precedent it's setting is terrifying, and given it's happening in a place like Australia, none of us should take anything for granted or assume this type of mentality can't come to Canada as well.
Call me crazy, but I am predicting that things in Canada are going to get a whole lot worse before they ever get better (I mean restrictions, not cases or poor outcomes from COVID-19). You are seeing it in Ontario right now. Cases have spiked as a result of significantly increased testing, yet deaths are down over 90% but the restrictions have been implemented anyway. What happens in NB if a community spread case crops up in another zone? My bet is all it would take is 1 case outside zone 1 or 5 that isn't travel related and you'll see the entire province go into their orange phase, and NB will no longer be part of the Atlantic Bubble. We already know Dr Strang has a non-existent risk tolerance himself, so I would expect to see heavy restrictions implemented whenever the next single non-travel case crops up in NS, which it inevitably will. Maybe I'll be proven wrong (I sure hope so) but nothing I have seen yet gives me hope that logic, reason and science will prevail. Remember, Billionaires have gotten a whole lot richer this year, and politicians are more popular than ever. As long as the public at large is willing to take the restrictions and give support to those who implement them, you can expect this cycle to continue for quite some time yet.