Policy suggestions for the current outbreak

A view from the Chinese Community Council of Australia on options to manage the current coronavirus outbreak and beyond

26 August 2021 | CCCA

We need a unifying national infrastructure to make decisions for all Australians, with States and Territory legislations mirroring the federal regulations. 

We need a comprehensive program to educate the young and the adults in our population.  Relying on criminal/punitive action is effective on the short term but education is more effective and lasting for the long term. 

Lockdowns should be constantly explained to the people using all the media outlets available at the government’s disposal. 

Australia should be detached from playing the vaccine politics and become a leader in the acquisition of vaccines for poor and disadvantaged especially towards our neighbour’s developing countries.  Without containing the pandemic in poor nations, the developed nations of the world remains to be in danger. 

With occurrence of new viral strains of covid-19, it is imperative that Australian Health Authorities look into new discoveries that are game changing e.g. the Aberdeen antibody detection (see below). 

There is no such thing that one country has recovered and considered itself safe because the virus will travel from an unsafe country to a safe one, unless you completely restrict human travel between countries.  However, the air does blow one place to another regardless of borders and can carry the virus particles far away.  Hence only global collaboration can we stop the pandemic globally and make progressive economic recovery domestically and internationally. 

PROPOSALS 

1.   A national infrastructure to coordinate the states and territory health departments to lead the fight and contain the pandemic in Australia.  If this task is left to the State/Territory alone, the virus will find the ‘loophole” and cross borders.  Hence strict lockdown is a must despite cries the lockdown procedures are non-democratic and infringement of individual rights.  We believe Australians can tolerate strict lockdowns as proven. The introduction of “curfew” would be impractical (and not popular).  This applies particularly to the aged and the one that requires medical attention on a daily basis or frequently. 

2.  Education program:  When this pandemic goes, another one will surely take its place hence, it is important to start the education of prevention of the spread of another type of infection derived from the previous ones.  The education should begin in school and then the public through the media (print/TV/radio) etc. and community education provided to the mainstream and diverse multicultural societies, through NGOs.   The government spends a lot of money on ABC and SBS, and they can ask to get more involved on prevention strategies, devised by the health authority defined in item (1). 

3.  Lockdowns:  Everyone feels uneasy and frustrated under lockdowns and these feelings are only natural.  In frustration, people would use any excuse to get out of the fence.  Although our western democracy has bestowed much rights to individuals, it is the only way that we know of on how to contain the virus.  If without lockdown and pandering those who believes their rights are above the group rights, then the virus wins.  Hence, it is sensible and wise to suspend our personal freedom for the good of all, to contain the pandemic and save lives.  

On this note, communities should rise for the occasion and support the health authorities and respective governments, to work collaboratively and as a family, to quash this virus. 

4.  The covid-19 issue, unfortunately, has been politicized resulting in blame game, conspiracy theories on how it originates, and vaccine politics. 

If vaccines are not politicized, then there should be no shortage to go around for all Australians. If we include the Chinese or Russian vaccines in our inventory, then it would be cheaper, affordable and no shortages. Reports of US vaccine manufacturing for profit motive only during a global pandemic is not going to win friends in the long term. The world should collaborate to fight the pandemic and not politicize this virus for selfish reasons. 

We believe any vaccine is better than no vaccine. And sharing the vaccine around the world is the best way of complete eradication of the virus eventually. 

It is good news for all people in the world. The more people vaccinated the safer is the planet and a swifter recovery for normal air travel again. Sharing the vaccine with developing and poor countries is the best financial foreign aid at this juncture.

5. New test to consider, it has been reported in the UK that, Antibody tests that can detect whether people have been exposed to new variants of Covid-19 have been developed by scientists at Aberdeen University. 

The new tests can detect antibody responses to infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus with more than 98% accuracy, compared to the current rate of 60-93% and it is hoped they will soon be rolled out by the NHS. For the first time, the new tests can be used to estimate the prevalence of circulating variant strains in the community including the variants first identified in Kent and India, now known as the Alpha and Delta variants respectively. As reported in this video, the tests can also assess the long-term immunity of an individual and whether immunity is vaccine-induced or is a result of previous exposure to the infection – information that is invaluable in helping to prevent the spread of infection.  

Principal authors, Tony Pun and Dr Ka Sing Chua. This commentary is supplied by the Chinese Community Council of Australia Incorporated: Founding President, Dr Anthony Pun OAM, President, Mr Kingsley Liu. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.

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