Australia responds: COVID-19 update

Crisis far from over but things have become a little more clear

3 April 2020 | Marcus Reubenstein

Just ten days ago, Australia’s rate of COVID-19 infections had reached a point where the number of people infected was doubling every three days.

This was highly alarming for two reasons.

First, it was not unusual because it was the same rate of new infections being seen across Europe and the United States.

Second, that rate meant we were on course to see 55,000 infections by today. Instead that number is less than 5,000.

In the past week the average daily increase of infections dropped from around 22% to a number closer to 10%.

This is positive news and while it is true Australia has tested widely for COVID-19 infections, testing has only been limited to people who have come in contact with infected people or showing symptoms of infection.

Clearly many more Australians are self-isolating and practicing social distancing. The evidence suggests this is contributing to a slowdown in the rate of new infections.

The New South Wales government has already announced its lockdown laws will remain in place for another 90 days. It is likely other parts of Australia, particularly Victoria, will adopt a similar policy.

Who is contracting and spreading this virus?

Not the Chinese-Australian community!

New South Wales has Australia’s most COVID-19 infections and state health authorities are currently investigating 11 clusters of infection. A cluster is defined as multiple infections that have been traced to one source.

A breakdown of the clusters and the nature of the infection are:

Parties/social gatherings: 6
Aged care facilities: 2
Schools/childcare: 2
Church group: 1

Though it does not publish detailed breakdowns, there is no indication from the Victorian Health Department of COVID-19 clusters, or significant outbreaks, within Melbourne’s Chinese community.

Where is the virus coming from?

The major source of infection in Australia remains people arriving from overseas. However, in Victoria local, and unconfirmed, transmissions comprise about 40% of all infections. In New South Wales, 38% of infections come from a source other than overseas.

In remaining states, the great majority of infections were from overseas arrivals.

Economic Measures

The economic measures the government is taking are looking as though they will cushion the economic impact of COVID-19. In the past week the government has moved to ensure that a significant proportion of the population will have some level of financial support.

The government has now committed to a stimulus program that represents 10% of the nation’s GDP.

Most economists believe this could help Australia avoid a long-term recession (or even a depression), however, the next release of economic data will show that Australia in recession already.

For residential property, the number of homes for sale has dramatically reduced. This does not mean the property market will crash, it means there will be less homes and apartments on the market.

In a market crash, or a boom, supply and demand move in opposite directions. Prices may come down due to distressed sellers but the APAC News property economist, Dr. Andrew Wilson is not predicting a major fall in prices.

Australian media coverage relating to Chinese community

This has been the most disappointing aspect of this crisis.

Since the start of this crisis in Wuhan western media coverage related to China and the Chinese community has been very biased.

Now for a large number of media outlets that coverage has become racist.

In the past week alone the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Australian Financial Review, The Guardian, news.com.au, Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and the Nine Television Network have published stories attacking Chinese efforts to send humanitarian aid to Wuhan in January and February.

Apart from identifying the fact that aid was sent to Wuhan from the local Chinese community, the allegations of these stories have little or no basis in truth.

Sky News, which is owned by News Corporation, has been the leader in racist commentary. All of its evening presenters have made numerous racially based attacks on Chinese people, in particular commentators Rohan Dean and Chris Smith have been blatantly racist.

It is legitimate the Australian media questions the policies of the Chinese government. In fact, the media spends far more time questioning the policies of our government. 

However, it unacceptable that the media makes completely false allegations against the Chinese-Australian community and is not held to account.

APAC News is a business, finance and culture website, we are not a political commentary news outlet. We do not support any government; but we will not stand for racism and ongoing attacks on the Chinese community from media outlets driven by an agenda not the truth.

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