Coronavirus Shutdown Perspective

One of our members, Peter Farley, would like to share his perspective on the Corona shutdown and open with quotes form widely read international newspapers

No country has been able to control the virus without a fence. Fences are not enough to stop the virus on their own, but they’re a necessary part of the solution. European countries and U.S. states had hoped otherwise. They were deluded. They opened their arms to their neighbors too soon and got infected in the hug.

They need to realize that not every country or state is effectively fighting the virus. Why should their citizens sacrifice so much for so long, with lockdowns and business closures, only to waste their efforts when their neighbors visit?

And as long as states fail to control their borders, the coronavirus will come back.

Across Spain, Covid patients occupy 8.6% of hospital beds, but in Madrid, the figure is 21% – and climbing. Two of the region’s hospitals said their intensive care units (ICUs) were already operating at 100% capacity.

Here are the big developments from Sunday:

Coronavirus is heat tolerant, self-healing and very resilient in lab tests

If you think the virus will go away, just look at the data from US states and European countries that have opened up quickly or the chaos in Israel.

The reason for distance restrictions are, a) to stop people traveling at all if possible, For example my friend Fred isn’t going to the plant nursery at all because it is more than 5km away. b) because when they travel they meet people and can spread the virus further and the longer time they are traveling, the more likely they are to forget at least one individual they met c) to cut down the contact tracing task. If you double the radius traveled you quadruple the number of likely interactions and more people will travel so the contact tracing task gets less reliable and 4-6 times as big, then like Victoria 8 weeks ago and the UK now, it just falls apart.

The same is true for restrictions on churches and family visits. Religious and family gatherings have proved to be among the strongest sources of serious illness because people stay together for long periods and both involve an older cohort.

Then we come to the alternative, just shield the vulnerable:

  1. It is no by no means foolproof, as we can see from the number of health workers infected even people who are trained all their lives to be careful still get infected
  2. The vulnerable aren’t just the elderly in nursing homes, it is almost everyone on this mailing list and many younger people with health issues, asthma and diabetes being just two. Therefore you must also quarantine their partners and therefore their families and then the carers and health workers who look after them and kitchen staff and cleaners, and all their families or housemates so 30-35% of the population indefinitely.
  3. Quarantines will go on for nine months to years because the other 65% of the population may not be dying of Covid but they will be keeping it spreading through the community and ready to pounce as soon as people make a mistake.

If the virus is allowed free rein in the community how many people will skip the night at the restaurant, the visit to the CBD shops, the day at the footy  or the lecture concert etc etc. Most might risk it, but not as often and 35% won’t be allowed to. In my wife’s family they wanted to have a family gathering between lockdowns but two of the eleven work in healthcare so it was all called off. Net result is restaurant, discretionary retail trade, sport and entertainment will still see a 20-40% fall in trade for a year or more, that will in turn affect commercial real estate and spread throughout most of the rest of the economy.

This is not to say that the Victorian or federal governments have not made many mistakes but Victoria’s death rate is still one fifth of Sweden’s and the unemployment rate is still the same or better. The commentators and business press may argue, but none of them have come up with a viable plan that has any less long term pain for the economy and all of their suggestions will result in more illness and death.

If you want to hug your grandchildren in the next 12 months and keep hugging them, you will support the very gradual relaxation of restrictions now and continuing wearing of masks and social distancing rules till long after a vaccine has been proven.