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Alan K | all galleries >> Galleries >> For A Few PESOs More; Occasional Shots 2017 to 2020 > 20200323_070253 Week 2 of The Great Quarantine
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23-Mar-2020 AKMC

20200323_070253 Week 2 of The Great Quarantine

Illawarra, NSW

So, our gubmints have decided that we weren't taking this whole Coronavirus thing seriously enough. (Which, to be fair, some weren't. Some people were congregating on beaches and in bars last weekend without even giving a head nod to the idea of keeping a safe distance.) In a hamfisted state and federal meeting on Sunday night, they decided that they would shut down all "non-essential" parts of the economy. Well, non-essential to the people who aren't making a living from them anyway. Thanks to two of the state premiers publishing press release "thought bubbles" on Sunday (press releases which were not published on government web sites, so everyone was wildly speculating about what was SAID and doubly so about what was MEANT), most of the hospitality and entertainment industry spent the day swapping pairs of brown trousers, wondering if they'd have a wage the following week.

As it turns out, as from midday today bars and restaurants are closed, some tourist beaches are closed (hard to enforce in the Illawarra as the entire coastline is a beach, more or less), cinemas might possibly be closed but nobody was completely sure so they just closed anyway.

This was my last eat in breakfast at my local cafe for a while. From tomorrow it's takeaway only. The separation of the tables was not enough. Hopefully the diminished receipts from takeaway sales will keep it afloat.

My concern is that if we go completely over the top and destroy peoples' livelihoods, we're going to end up with a social crisis far worse than Covid19. And before any hysterical jackass puts words in my mouth, I am not downplaying the seriousness of the disease or the need to slow its spread. However I do question the almost religious fervour surrounding it, much of which comes from rubbish, over the top, "if it bleeds it leads" reporting, especially in Australia.

On Friday the death toll in Italy hit 627. Highest! Death! Toll! Ever! the headlines shrieked. Which it was, in absolute terms because the number of cases had increased so dramatically, and (3rd grade maths here) the same percentage of a larger number will itself be a larger number. Active cases as I type this? 46,638. Population of Italia? 60.48 million. Proportion of the population who have the virus? 0.08%. Not 8%. Zero point zero eight percent.

The next day the death toll hit 792. The mainstream media reports went full ape guano. Highest! Ever! Every one of those deaths is a tragedy and nobody said otherwise. But what happened the following day when the number of deaths fell back to a still appalling 651? Nothing. Not a word was said in the Australian media about that. (It's not hard to find, in addition to the WHO database that I'm using the number WAS on the front page of La Repubblica at least.) Oh, and on that day with 793 new deaths? A record high of 1,632 people were cleared of the virus. They had it, they survived it, they moved on. And there was not one mention of that. Not one. This is why you have the mathematically illiterate shrieking about "1000 deaths every day in Italy!" (I kid you not, I saw that comment just today) when it has not yet been within 20% of that number in a single day and may not reach that number at all.

The problem in Italy is that it has an older and therefore more vulnerable population. The death rate there to date is over 9.2% which is streets ahead of any other country I've looked at. The death rate overall is likely to be 2 to 3%, but we won't know until the dust settles. In Hubei China it has been 4.6%.

The disease is taking out the most vulnerable first (well duh maths), but there isn't an infinite supply of those. Conclusion? The rate in Italy WILL drop as the disease spreads to healthier people.

Why am I looking at Italian numbers rather than Australian ones? Because ours are too small to discern patterns in yet.

In the meantime the gubmint is saying that the newly jobless may get some money in 2 to 6 weeks, if the MyGov website doesn't crash like it did today.

This shutdown may be a useful circuit breaker and a wake-up call. However in my view it would be irresponsible to talk about it lasting months rather than weeks. However I would be reluctant to say that if my account had more than a double digit number of viewers because I know full well that in an era of hysteria, there is no place for... well, reason or a proportional response, actually. I've seen it too many times in the last month.

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Julie Oldfield25-Mar-2020 01:07
We have been in a lock down for over a week here and it is getting old. I still have to work because I am considered essential (I work for child welfare).
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