Tim Colebatch wrote an interesting article “There is an Alternative to Lockdownsfor Inside Story. The article compares the performance of various countries in their handling of the corona virus pandemic. Tim’s assessment is that the outstanding performer has been Taiwan. It has been the world’s most successful country in fighting the virus. In a land with almost as many people as Australia, only six people have died, and 426 have been infected. This has been achieved without the economic and social collateral damage that has been a feature of the Australian approach.

This post looks at what Tim has reported and asks whether Australia should change the way it is dealing with the epidemic.


From Tim Colebatch: The Taiwanese success “wasn’t by lockdowns. Large gatherings are banned, but Taiwan has remained open for business: you can go to work, school or university, go shopping, go to a restaurant with your friends. But you will have to wear a face mask in public, obey social distancing rules, and constantly have your temperature checked and your hands sprayed. If you’re ordered to self-quarantine, the government will phone you frequently to check that you don’t leave home.”

Tim also gave the following background on the Taiwanese response: “Taiwan had been a victim of the SARS epidemic in 2002–03, when seventy-three Taiwanese died partly because China denied it crucial information. This time it was first off the mark.

On 31 December, the same day that China finally notified the WHO of an outbreak of respiratory disease in Wuhan, Taiwan imposed health checks on everyone arriving from Wuhan. These were gradually widened, and after China allowed a team of Taiwanese doctors to visit Wuhan in mid January, their grim report led Taiwan to embark on its strategy of test, trace and quarantine.

Back in January, when Chinese scouts started buying up Australia’s supplies of medical equipment, Taiwan banned the export of face masks — and got its industries to produce them, as they are now doing at the rate of some millions a day, along with other essential medical supplies and protective equipment. It moves fast when it needs to.

Those ordered to self-quarantine receive a daily allowance of roughly A$45, and are brought food and other necessities by their village leader. It helps that medical care is cheap and widespread, and that Taiwan is a Confucian society where people tend to obey government orders (unlike Italy, say).

Australia has also been a world leader in dealing with the virus and it is difficult to be making comparisons between a very small densely populated island with a very different economy to Australia. However, it is worth noting that, in the case of Australia, that the collateral economic damage is very significant: New data suggests that 780,000 people had lost their jobs by April 4, just days after the current COVID-19 business and social restrictions were introduced on March 30. Those restrictions shut thousands of services venues such as pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas, beauty salons and many other businesses, while Australians were required to stay at home unless shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising, going to work or an educational facility. In addition, total wages were down by 6.7 per cent over the three-week period, again with a 5.1 per cent decrease in pay packets during the week ending April 4. Even worse, the Grattan Institution is now saying (19 April 2020) Our estimate is that between a sixth and a quarter of Australia’s workforce is likely to be out of work because of the COVID-19 shutdown and social distancing.

In addition, COVID lockdowns have human costs as well as benefits. Think, for example of domestic violence, suicide rates and unemployment and lockdown driven depression. The following shows the impact of Australian government decisions on a variety of businesses.

Most of these potential job losses arise directly or indirectly because of problems conforming with distancing rules with most of the rest coming from restrictions on travel.

It is certainly worth asking whether Australia could avoid most of the collateral damage caused by its coronovirus control policies by adapting some of Taiwan’s approach. However, we certainly need a better understanding of what is really making a difference in Taiwan and understand things like how important the quality and re-usability of face masks are. (Do they have to be health worker standard or could washable be sufficient to make a real difference?)

At the same time we should be looking closely at specific jobs and ask ourselves what could be done to avoid the need for these job losses.


  1. …. SARS epidemic of 2002-3, when 73 Taiwanese died partly because China denied it crucial information…

    So China “has form” does it?

    Epidemic? Information? And the Taiwanese would be fluent in Chinese, so it couldn’t be a language barrier….. in the background.

    Gee whiz, I wonder if Taiwan might have reasons to distrust the Chinese Govt. Are their territories quite near each other? Any history of conflict in the past??

  2. Ambi: “Taiwan. The one country excluded from the World Health Organization, at China’s insistence.” Has been a wee bit of conflict that goes back to the losers from the Communist revolution retreating to Taiwan.

  3. Ambi, I’m not a full bottle on either China or Taiwan, but I know that there are language barriers all over China. If thew want to communicate with each other they usually do it in Mandarin, which would be taught in school, but not everyone is proficient in it.

    As to getting on with China, there were direct flights between Taipei and Wuhan, which is what they concentrated on first.

    I had a link of Indira Naidoo talking for half an hour with an Australian financial journalist who lives in Taiwan. Can’t find it now. From memory he said that a million or so Taiwanese actually lived in China. Some of then would have wanted to repatriate. I think in real life there is a fair bit of commerce and interaction with China.

    From memory, they had 1800 teams of five involved in contact tracing. If someone was infected or isolating they would be given a mobile phone if they didn’t have one. Part of the deal was that you would have an app on the phone, and the authorities, who were polite in the reporters experience, would know if you stepped outside the door.

  4. John, Colebatch does a good job, as usual. A couple of criticisms.

    First, he doesn’t know where Qld is. Qld was the first to declare a health emergency, and Qld did the pushing that led to the closing down of gatherings bigger than 10 etc which was announced on March 13.

    Secondly, it is not so much ‘obeying government’ as community feeling. The Australian reporting to Indira Naidoo said it was the feeling of looking like a goose if you were stupid enough to have a beer with your neighbour and then find he was infected.

    Thirdly, he’s fallen for the Feds line that they run the show. They don’t. However, Morrison has learnt how to ride the beast a bit after a wobbly start, and this may be the making of him as a PM.

  5. John the article by Gigi Foster and Martha Hickey raises important questions about the real cost of the shutdown. Again I had a link I can’t find to an Australian medico working at Singapore University, who said that lock-downs are what a country has to do if it is not ready to trace, test and isolate.

    The Asian countries, and Canada, were burnt by SARS. Of these Canada has been the least ready and IMO the worst performer, although Singapore has been hoist on the petard of how they treat foreign workers. Japan (not sure what happened with SARS) also seems to be struggling.

  6. Roy Morgan Research shows a massive 2.16 million Australians were unemployed (15.3% of the workforce), with an additional 1.32 million (9.4%) under-employed.

      This is 439,000 fewer than the 3.92 million unemployed or under-employed (27.4% of the workforce) during the last two weeks of March (March 20-31, 2020) immediately before the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program was announced.

    Not all the companies applying to pay their workers under JobKeeper will survive.

  7. John Kehoe has an article in the AFR What an 85pc fall in migration means for the economy and housing:

      Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that a more than 30 per cent decline in net overseas migration was expected this financial year and an 85 per cent fall was forecast for 2020-21 compared with the 2018-19 level of 240,000 people.

      That equates to at least 72,000 fewer net overseas arrivals in 2019-20 and 204,000 fewer next financial year.

    Bad for the construction industry and for growth generally. Major retailers depend on migration for increased sales.

    It’s not going to be a simple V-shaped recovery.

  8. Brian: “Again I had a link I can’t find to an Australian medico working at Singapore University, who said that lock-downs are what a country has to do if it is not ready to trace, test and isolate.” Would agree that Australian governments did the right thing in going for a lock-down with guesstimate rules as the first step in the absence of more information and time to stuff around. (Ex: Two arm length distancing is an easy rule to enforce but, if it is too long it may mean that some places have been shut down when it is not necessary – or people are becoming infected because the rule is not harsh enough.) However, it is a clumsy approach that has caused a lot of collateral damage in Australia as well as rebellions in the US.
    Would be good if the discussion looked at the practicalities of following the Taiwan example or what might be achieved by making changes to what we are doing.

  9. Some details from Taiwan:
    “Taipei, March 31 (CNA) The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday recommended that people in Taiwan stay at least one meter apart outdoors and 1.5 meters apart indoors to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak that has spread across the world.
    People are advised to wear a surgical mask if they are unable to maintain a safe distance, in particular when using modes of public transportation such as buses or subways, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.
    The CECC was also to hold a meeting later Tuesday to come up with more concrete guidelines on social distancing, and the results should be released later this week, according to Chen.
    He stressed, however, that the guidelines are only recommendations, and people who fail to keep safe distances from one another will not be punished for the time being.
    The CECC will closely watch how well people follow social distancing guidelines for a period of time and will consider imposing punishments should “severe violations” be reported in the future, he said.
    Social distancing has been implemented by governments around the world to curb COVID-19 as the number of infections continues to rise.
    Last week, the CECC recommended the cancellation of mass gatherings of more than 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan.
    Taiwan recorded 16 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 322 with five deaths since the coronavirus emerged in China at the end of last year, according to CECC statistics.
    A total of 263 of those cases, mostly involving people who contracted the disease overseas, have emerged since March 15, when Taiwan only had 59 confirmed cases.
    (By Chen Wei-ting and Joseph Yeh)

  10. John, I looked high and low for the Indira Naidoo interview which was with Ben Hurley. This is where I mentioned it:

      They have a lot of people movement with China. With a population similar to ours they have pretty much arrested the growth of infections, without widespread lockdowns and keeping schools open, buses travelling etc.

      They do have phone app tracing, which the Chinese also use and the story begins with Hurley relaying how he was shooting the breeze with some neighbours, having a beer for a few hours. Next morning a health official turned up to notify him that he would have to isolate immediately and then for two weeks if the miscreant he talked with for over 15 minutes the day before who had just been O/seas and had just been identified and tested turned out positive.

    The link to the Nightlife interview now says the audio has expired, but I also gave a link to an SMH article by Hurley – While other countries lost precious time, Taiwan mobilised to keep COVID-19 at bay.

    They heard about the virus on 31 December, and began action on 1 January, then when human to human infection was confirmed by the Chinese through the WHO on 20 January:

      the Taiwan Center for Disease Control activated the Central Epidemic Command Centre, or CECC, created after the SARS outbreak. Within five weeks, the CECC had implemented at least 124 action items covering border control, proactive case finding and public reassurance, holding daily briefings to keep the public informed.

    Hurley says:

      Close to 1 million of [Taiwan’s] citizens live in China, with hundreds of daily flights ferrying businesspeople and tourists across the Taiwan Strait. COVID-19 came when thousands were planning to return home for the Lunar New Year.

    From January 1 they were boarding flights from Wuhan, doing health checks before they let people off the plane.

    People were wearing masks before Jan 20. I think it was made compulsory to board a bus, enter a building etc.

    Beefing up the stocks of masks and sanitizer was facilitated by public ownership of the companies.

    I was impressed with:

      Taiwan’s national health insurance database and its immigration and customs database were integrated over the course of one day, and this data was used to generate real-time alerts when patients with a risky travel history visited clinics presenting suspicious symptoms. This same database allowed border guards to issue low-risk travellers border passes via SMS, while ordering higher-risk travellers to self-isolate.

    Travel with China was restricted to five Chinese airports, and people had to isolate for two weeks after arrival.

    I think that is the best we could hope for international travel unless a good vaccine is available.

    Buses and taxis have clipboards showing how many times they have been disinfected that day, and elevator buttons are covered with plastic film that is regularly replaced.

    I don’t know how much we can learn from Taiwan. Like them we are an island. Their advantage seems to be that they trust their government more than we do, are probably more community minded, and the government seems more enabled and competent than ours.

  11. What I would really like to see is data that helps sort out what really makes a difference, particularly what is relevant to things like the quality of masks, social spacing and things where collateral damage is important.

  12. John, I’d like to add this photo from the SMH article which shows how close people are sitting in a bus in Taiwan:

    Ben Hurley said he lived in a smaller centre east of Taipei, and there were people doing a daily commute by bus. I imagine most bus rides would take longer than 15 minutes, which is the time they also use as a threshold for infection risk.

    Hurley said you had your temperature taken and hands sprayed on entry. If taxis are disinfected several times a day, I think buses would be also.

    All this costs money, of course, but may be necessary to get our economy moving again.

    In the post you mentioned masks. Again there was an ABC RN item where someone had done research on the efficacy of masks in Asia.

    The results were mixed, the biggest problem being that people re-use masks and cleaning them is a problem.

    In this regard, there is an article Doctors scramble for best practices on reusing medical masks during shortage:

      Microwaves tended to melt the masks and render them useless.

      Hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet radiation appeared to be at least somewhat more effective, they wrote, “but it is not known if they would retain filtration, material strength and airflow integrity with repeated use.”

      Autoclaves, 320 F [160 C] ovens, and soap and water soaking, all appeared ineffective, they wrote.

      However, they wrote, “70 C / 158 F heating in a kitchen-type of oven for 30 min, or hot water vapor from boiling water for 10 min, are additional effective decontamination methods.”

    If we have to go anywhere, we’ve been using masks, and then put them in the sun afterwards. The new $40 jobs we bought have a replaceable insert which you buy in packs of 10.

    I really think the powers that be have to get on board with people wearing masks and giving us more information and guidance. It seems to be part of the best practice from countries that are doing well.

  13. John, I’m desperately short of time but we’ll see how we go.

    One of the irritating things is the Morrison, Murphy and Hunt are telling us things are not necessary when the truth is that we lacked capacity.

    They did this with testing, by telling us how excellent they were being when you had to have two strikes to get a test.

    The Spanish are easing restrictions, but part of the deal is that people must wear masks on public transport.

  14. I wonder if we will discover that the real advantage of social distancing and the hand washing is that by getting trace doses of the virus on the cocaine coin model, we slowly build up some measure of immunity.

  15. Cocaine coin model?

    That wasn’t covered in Medicine at my alma mater.

    Were you at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Advances? Or the See The Bois Rounda Back College of Amateur Pharmaceutics?

    Or was it the Coca Cola Trust – don’t talk about the stimulants…..

  16. “Queensland restaurants chase more relaxed coronavirus rules and June reopening” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-04/coronavirus-queensland-when-can-we-dine-in-restaurants-again/12205752. Sounds like the Qld government is thinking about a relaxation.
    The restaurants are asking for 1.5m2 per person which doesn’t leave much room between people. (A 1.5m2 square has 1.2 m sides.) https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-04/coronavirus-queensland-when-can-we-dine-in-restaurants-again/12205752
    May be practical if notice is taken of airflow direction, masks for all waiting staff, ultraviolet lighting or whatever in air con ducts to keep the air virus free, partitions between tables and???? Certainly want more than another thoughtless cave to a pressure group.

  17. Yes John.

    And a 1.5 m side square has area 2.25 m2.

    Or is the relevant shape a circle with radius 0.75 m, having area approx
    9/16 of 3.14 or about 1.8 m2?

    Either way, more area tgan is usual with most cafes having tabkes of 4, 6, 8 customers??

    Our small regional town seems to be loosening up.

    I don’t mean restaurants reopened, just more folk out and about.

  18. The cocaine coin reference goes back a few decades to where it was claimed that there was so much cocaine in use in the US that every coin in circulation had traces of cocaine on them. The difference here is that the virus has a limited life on objects . We don’t need to use coins these days but door handles are a different matter.

  19. Thanks BilB.

    Now in Australia some recent bits of news:
    Sewage samples may reveal Covid virus traces
    Sewage samples are being used to assess some drug use

    In random testing of drivers, more are positive for (illicit) drugs than for excessive alcohol.


  20. Perhaps sewage testing could be an important method of covid antibody rates *.

    ( * Not saying it should be, will be, needs to be, laws created for it to be or telling everyone to go test sewage. I just think it’s one possibilities in future )

  21. Jumpy: “Perhaps sewage testing could be an important method of covid antibody rates *.” Good point Jumpy. Not 100% sure but antibody rates might help us understand how many people have become immune. Or at least help identify areas that need more attention.

  22. I’ve been a big fan of sewage testing if it is possible to identify, for example, which suburb has people with the virus. I’m thinking we should be testing for the actual virus rather than antibodies.

    It would give a lot of confidence that a provincial city or a suburb was clean.

    John, Qld is definitely looking to relaxation. Next Monday (May 11) year K-1 and 11-12 will return to school. On May years 2-10 will go back subject to review on May 15.

    There were three cases yesterday, one caught in in London, another in Los Angeles and a third from a tour boat.

    The borders will stay shut while there are community hot spots in NSW and/or Victoria.

    From the horse’s mouth!

  23. I think in Taiwan restaurants never closed.

    China has started tourism again, with tour groups limited to 30. I heard that in China if you walk on the grass where you shouldn’t or misbehave, a drone is likely appear and tell you to behave.

    May be fake news, but it sound for real.

  24. Brian: “The borders will stay shut while there are community hot spots in NSW and/or Victoria.”
    “Keeping the cockroaches out” emotions mean that it does not make political sense forany Qld government to drop the shut border policy until after the state election at the earliest.
    I have worked in every state and the NT since leaving NSW. What struck me was that people from NSW tended to see themselves as Australian while Queenslanders see themselves as “Queenslanders” or even more parochially, “Central Queenslanders” etc in parts of Queensland. Had a bloke who worked for me in Central Qld who told me quite seriously that you had a better class of people west of the divide.
    The funny thing was that Kiwi Joh was an expert at exploiting Qld parochialism.
    Meanwhile, back at the coronavirus crisis….

  25. Good old Joh, eh?
    Blaming NZ rather than Scandinavia for his origins?

    Joh may have said the odd, occasional odd thing. But in hindsight, his quip about dealing with journalists: “feeding the chooks”, was pretty good.

    The other Kiwi quip I value – not sure if it was his original idea – came from Mr Muldoon. “Every time a New Zealander migrates to Australia, the average IQ of both nations rises.”

    OTOH, there was a NZ National Party PM in the late 60s, who refused to hold Press Conferences where he must answer spontaneous questions. I kid you not: he required all questions to be submitted at least 24 hours beforehand. Now that is REAL media management!!

  26. John,

    I think what you’ve observed are instances of the general fact that the “internationalists” amongst us are always outnumbered by the parochials.

    And you would expect politicians to know that, Si?

  27. John, when I was at primary school we saluted the flag every morning and recited “God save the King/Queen”. In my first year I sat next to a big map of the world, and in my spare time (ie. quite a lot) I looked at all the red patches around the world and compared them to the yellow patches, representing the French empire.

    At university and beyond we were still standing up in movie theatres to hear “God save the Queen” before the film.

    I didn’t think about being Australian until after I had to vote. My first job post graduation was in Adelaide where you definitely weren’t a local unless you were born there. Queensland was beyond the horizon unless there was a gruesome murder or something ridiculous happened.

    That’s when I first felt like a Queenslander.

    Along the way I’ve had to put up with more than enough silly jokes about Queenslanders, like the pilot announcing “We are now entering Queensland airspace, so put your clocks back 100 years.”

    Working in the Qld education system I learnt that we were Queenslanders at State of Origin time, from about 1980. By that time Joh had actually put us on the map, and had to be reckoned with when he eliminated death duties.

    On this one I honestly think you are confusing emotion with rationality.

    The Queensland premier is responsible for the health and welfare of people who are in Queensland. She hasn’t locked us up like in Italy or Spain, but she told us to stay with our tribe. Movements of 50km or more are verboten. We can’t go to the Gold Coast. Nor can a couple I work for in Brisbane who have an empty unit in Surfers, because it is not their principle place of residence.

    Why should NSW people be able to come to the Gold Coast when we can’t?

    With the virus you have to control your patch and restrict movement. They found that out in Italy after more than a million people left the north, scarpered and carried the virus all over Italy. Only then did they institute a state border policy which they are now thinking about easing.

    Up until 5 days ago, 1400 cars had been turned back by the police and ADF. How many more would have come if there hadn’t been a road block?

  28. Brian: “On this one I honestly think you are confusing emotion with rationality.” Keep in mind that we lived in Qld for over 20 yrs including time in Central Qld which is (an exaggerated version of Qlanders) and had a lot to do with Nth Qlanders (exaggerated version of Central Qlanders) when I worked in the in the NT
    Have you any figures to support your claim that the border closures did more than just boost support for your premier?

  29. “…or something ridiculous happened….”


    In Queensland??!!??

    We need details; an anxious nation awaits….

    On restrictions of movement: for a couple of weeks Sydney/NSW were the “warm spots”, were they not?
    (Australia has had only one hot spot: the sad nursing home).

    Given the “warm spot” fact, I think border restrictions were fine.

    But what happened to the old trick of using the forehead temperature sensors to find likely infectees? Remember the SARS outbreak and the footage of arriving air travellers being checked in airport arrivals? And some nations ( mirabile dictu!!) have been doing the same with Corona Wu.

    Did we not have enough equipment, or would they keep getting false positives because some drivers have very heated cabins??

  30. Ambi: The warm spot was Sydney, particularly Waverly. A border around Sydney would have made more sense than blocking people who depend on Qld for important services.
    South Aus had borders but the rules were flexible enough to allow NSW people near the border who used Adelaide for capital city services to continue to do so.
    The underlying problem is that borders are not equi distant from the state capitals.

  31. John
    I agree that quarantining major cities from the regions would perhaps been more effective and less economically damaging but logically it would be impossible to enforce.

    The only real option was state number plates for police.
    Those poor buggers have plenty to do in normal time without being ordered to impossibly enforce laws that make them look like mongrels as well as set up thousands of roadblocks.

  32. Jumpy: I largely agree with: “The only real option was state number plates for police.
    Those poor buggers have plenty to do in normal time without being ordered to impossibly enforce laws that make them look like mongrels as well as set up thousands of roadblocks.” However, it is worth noting that stickers were made available for NSW residents that commuted across the border.
    Haven’t seen any hard data that show that there have been any health benefits at all from shutting the Qld/NSW border.

  33. John, I haven’t seen data of any health benefits of anything Governments have done.
    There’s only preliminary guessing to compare to reality.

    The original sets of predictions were way off, we don’t have any reliable numbers to access the any benefits health wise of any single measure, and we never will.

  34. The original sets of predictions were way off,

    That’s because we (in the form of our governing bodies) put restrictions in place to stop those predictions eventuating, and we (as individuals) generally went along with the restrictions, despite the whinging of a few notable exceptions.

  35. Mr J has a point.

    How many roads cross the Qld/NSW border? (I’m aware there are only a small number of designated highways).

    Then, how many roads lead ‘out of Sydney’?

  36. And furthermore, zoot at 6.25pm, the restrictions introduced were fairly severe, because the potential hazard, in deaths and a possibility of the hospitals not coping was assessed, on the available evidence and past experience, as very serious.

    *Horses for courses.
    *Decisions made “with an abundance of caution” in the nation’s best interests.
    Fairly straightforward, I would have thought.

  37. Indeed Ambigulous at 7:25 pm.
    And with regard to this pandemic I challenge the notion that anybody “predicted” anything that was “way off”, although our northern correspondent may have evidence to the contrary.

  38. There’s an analogy with the Y2K bug.
    Some extremely dim bulbs believe that because no disasters befell the planet on January 1, 2000 the bug was a furphy, a non-event. Or, if you will, all the predictions were way off.
    The aforesaid dim bulbs are apparently completely unaware of the millions of dollars and thousands of hours of effort that went into making sure the bug was eliminated.

  39. Zoot: “I challenge the notion that anybody “predicted” anything that was “way off”, although our northern correspondent may have evidence to the contrary.” For some odd reason the current leader of a large country to the NE of Australia leaps to mind.

  40. Oh, John.

    That leader did the opposite. He didn’t scare people with dire forecasts of danger; no, he reassured anyone who would listen, that it was a minor problem that his Govt had well in hand.

    A couple of months later, he was cheerfully predicting and hoping that his nation would re-open for business by Easter Sunday.

    Where other leaders were gloomy and cautious, he was what an old song called “a cock-eyed optimist”.

    Right now he’s distracted by the heavy work involved in writing his dissertation on the benefits of internal liquid disinfectant for human organisms; and finalising US Patents for subcutaneous UV radiation treatments, another surefire winner.

    Has anyone opened a book on Dr Fauci’s prospects of continuing eminence?


    Actually, didn’t Joh at one stage want to fly the eminent Milan Brich into Qld on his private jet? Or am I getting mixed up with the “cold fusion motor car” incident?? There’s material for a whole Conference there.

    Has an

  41. John, I’m well aware of your experience of living in Qld.

    I’m well aware that Brisbane pulls well into NSW when people want to access services, not sure how far on the coast, but probably as far a Armidale inland.

    It may have been more logical to ring-fence Sydney. However, Palaszczuk doesn’t control NSW. I’d assume the matter was discussed with NSW.

    The concern was with community transmission. The Gold Coast was a warm spot for community transmission around the time the decision was made, as was Brisbane and Cairns.

  42. Ambi, Burnie, Tasmania was probably the hottest spot, where the staff of three hospitals were wiped out by initially one infected person coming from that wretched boat.

      How many roads cross the Qld/NSW border?

    Quite a few, I gather, but the mountains come quite close to the sea behind Coolangatta.

    Then there is the Numinbah Valley behind Springbrook (Germaine Greer has digs there, I believe), then mountains for quite a way. I think there is a Mt Warning track before Cunningham’s Gap, then you get to Warwick/Stanthorpe and the main inland drag.

  43. Brian: Table of confirmed cases for NSW municipalities at 4/5/2020 https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/stats-lga.aspx#confirmed. NE NSW had 55 including Grafton. Hottest spot was Byron Bay with 16. The Byron council has complained about to many people coming there from Qld.
    By contrast the Gold coast has had 192 cases. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/doh-media-releases/releases/queensland-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-update35
    I assume closing the border would have been popular in Qld but I assume that the regions would have been a wee bit annoyed if they lost access to the most practical big city services?

    • I assume closing the border would have been popular in Qld but I assume that the regions would have been a wee bit annoyed if they lost access to the most practical big city services?

    I don’t think most people in Qld would have known or cared. Labor rarely wins a seat in the Gold Coast in state of federal elections, so I don’t think there was politics in the mind when this decision was made.

    Thanks for the stats. They need to be seen in population context.

    SEQ is 3.6 million

    Gold Coast – 560,000

    Byron Bay 9,250

    Lismore 28,700

    Murwillumbah 9,250

    Lennox Heads 7,750

    Grafton, a bit further south has 19,000 and is 640 km from Sydney and 345 from Brisbane.

    I checked out some of the commentary at the time:

    If you read the articles, the Northern Rivers mayors were clearly concerned about an influx of people from SEQ over Easter. The Byron Bay mayor pointed out that 3.6 million people lived withing 90 minutes drive of his place.

    As far as I could make out, around 500,000 people descend on the Gold Coast in peak holiday times for reasons I can’t understand. Mostly I avoid the place.

    The issue of access to services is obviously a difficulty. Not sure about then, but we are still limited to 50km. There would be people between Brisbane and Toowoomba who are further than that to either.

    To the north we have Gympie (21,600), Maryborough (27,300) and Harvey Bay (54,600) who are a long way from many specialist services.

    John, I support the notion that movement of people has to be limited when the virus is rampant. I don’t know whether the particular decisions made were the best possible, but I’m not prepared to condemn them out of hand. Those making the decision would have had more information than I do.

  44. Down here in Victoria, we were told there were only FOUR valid reasons to leave home:
    * medical
    * shopping for essential supplies
    * exercising near your abode
    * appearing at the Informer 3838 Royal Commission

    We run a tight ship down here.

    No malingering, no tourism, no P plate driving lessons, no AFL, no trysts or extramarital shenanigans; no worries

    Dan’s got us sorted.

  45. Ambi, it is not as tight here, but my missus tells me she understands that if a plumber or similar has to travel to fix something they can. She says that they would be able to come across the border too, as you would for a medical appointment.

    So John, are you seriously inconvenienced by the road block at the border, or is it that the concept that offends you?

  46. Ambi, I think Quincelanders who remember ‘Joh for Canberra’ would think of it as an embarrassing joke. However, my elder bro who is a cattleman says that democracy worked under Joh.

    If he and his mates had a meeting on the verandah and had a good idea, you rang Sir Robert Sparkes, who was head of the National Party. Within 6-9 months your idea, if it was deemed good, would be implemented.

    Joh ran a perfect cabinet government. It is said that when you became a minister you had to sign an undated resignation letter which Joh kept in his bottom drawer.

    The real worry with Joh is whether he has truly passed on and gone, or whether he has been reincarnated.

    Not sure this is helping John’s thread.

  47. Brian: “So John, are you seriously inconvenienced by the road block at the border, or is it that the concept that offends you?”
    Declaration of personal interest:
    Can’t visit son or grandson who live at the gold coast about 100km away.
    Extended family who live in northern NSW have made extensive use of gold coast medical facilities over the years.
    Use Coolongatta airport for quite a bit of our air travel. (Yes there is a closer airport in NSW but more limited.)
    You may have noticed we use Brisbane facilities quite a bit and keep in touch with Qld friends (but most of these have been shut down by the virus.)
    And yes, the concept of closing borders when the benefit is doubtful and the real cause is politicians like Joh and Anna appealing to narrow tribalism does offend me.

  48. But, Ambi, what if you were in some one else’s bed when the “not allowed out” order came down. That could be very awkward, pleasurable ….but awkward. And that highlights some lack of foresight and strategic planning on my part.

  49. Ah,

    there was one valid reason I forgot (Victoria)

    * travelling to do essential work, or to study.

    The Informer 3838 Royal Commission resumes tomorrow in Melbourne with a few more witnesses to appear. If certain senior (or former senior) police persons avoid being charged with perverting the course of justice, I’ll be surprised.

  50. In Germany at least you know who is running the place – Germany set to pass lockdown decisions back to states:

      All shops regardless of size will be allowed to reopen if they adhere to strict hygiene and social distancing measures.

      All students will return to school in stages until the summer break, but with protocols to protect pupils.

      Responsibility for easing lockdown measures will now pass to state leaders who can make their own plans.

      The ban on large public events like festivals and sports will remain in place until the end of August.

      Bundesliga matches will be allowed to resume without fans in mid to late May.

      Outdoor sports for children and non-professional leagues would also be allowed to take place.

      Seniors in care homes should be allowed to receive visitors provided there is no active COVID-19 case in the facility.

    We’ll see how they go, because they are not immune to a second wave.

  51. Thanks, John. Both my brothers have grandkids within driving distance, but are not seeing them at present.

    My only grandchild is in Adelaide, and had booked to come after Easter. They have a deferral.

  52. Coolangatta airport does (did) have international flights, for example to Singapore, but it’s all a bit academic at present. There is nowhere to go.

  53. Not the good news: Researchers find new coronavirus strain ‘more contagious’, potentially impacting COVID-19 vaccine search: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-06/new-coronavirus-covid19-strain-mutation-hits-vaccine-research/12218834 “A group of leading international researchers has concluded the coronavirus behind the global pandemic has already mutated into a second strain, which appears to have spread faster and wider than the original one, potentially undermining efforts to create a vaccine.

    Key points:
    The research found the newer strain of coronavirus, or the ‘G-strain’, may allow people to be infected a second time
    It also found the second strain spread faster, possibly meaning it was more contagious
    The research, which has not been peer-reviewed, has divided the scientific community with one expert saying he was “sceptical”
    The research, yet to be peer-reviewed but posted online by scientists from the US and UK, also found the newer strain, or G-strain, may allow people to be infected a second time.

    Some independent experts described the research as “impressive”, while others have argued the conclusion the mutation is more contagious is not yet proven, and should be treated with caution.
    The second strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, appeared to have first emerged in either Europe or China in January, some time after the first strain emerged.
    It quickly became the dominant variant in each region, suggesting it may be more transmissible than the original D-strain.
    The pattern appeared to have been followed in most European countries, most American states, and in many countries including Australia, where the new strain was already dominant.
    Asked about the G-strain today, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said newer strains were not unexpected.”
    A new strain will probably mean a new vaccine has to be developed just like we need to renew our flu vaccine on a yearly basis to take account of new strains.
    However, most of the strategies being used in Aus and Taiwan will still work despite strain changes.

  54. This thing is not a geographical issue.
    It’s an age demographic and pre-existing sickness issue predominantly.
    That should be the focus, as I’ve said from the start.

    We’ll end up using the Swedish/Taiwan approach eventually.

  55. Ah BilB

    A lack of foresight and strategic planning, eh?

    Well, as the old master himself was wont to chuckle, to live a life without regrets is not to have fully lived, my son .

    In the plenitude of experiences and beauties of the planet, I’m sure your ocean sailing and Nederlandse canals have given you more [ahem ] planning highlights than the rest of us can imagine.


    Recently been reading about young Vincent of Gogh. He’s just completed The Potato Eaters and is starting to master colour and a lighter palette under the influence of the late Eugene Delacroix. Go, Vinnie!

  56. All of which has nothing to do with Taiwan or pandemics. Sorry, John of The North.

  57. I believe Sweden has been having second thoughts about its ‘light touch’ strategy.

    Here’s a video on how to use face masks from Deutsche Welle:

    How to wear a face mask properly (in English)

    It assumes not everyone will wear one, and there is no talk of sunlight, which is understandable.

  58. Bless van Gogh, he who opened my eyes to the pleasure of the visual arts at a tender age.

    Yes JohnD it has come down to mutation and genetics. We know that we can get infected by that particular virus group or type ( Corona, Sars, influence) via verious animal vectors, from chicken to pangolin., camel, cats and bats. So COVID-19 very likely inherited this high genetic mobility. Genetically variable it was from the beginning of its origin and this explains a few other things. It possibly could also vary it’s degrees of infectiousness or indeed which age group or human genotype different strains effects. That is a major consideration when modeling pandemics in order to manage the various risks.


    Iirc I mentioned COVID-19’s high pontental to mutate and affect us in different ways, on here before it became a pandemic. I also mentioned at the time that I don’t think the US will be the same after this. That maybe relevant to us too.


  59. That’s all good news, Ambi. …. that I have really lived, I mean. Oh the regrets. Mr Gogh must be one of my favourite artists because he created “the Scream”, a pose I find myself in more than often enough. But my very favourite artist at present is D2. She is spending her lock down time improving her oil art, and she is pretty good, keeping pace with Vincent by my judgement. I’m trying to talk her into doing a “Scene Two” series. What did Lisa do next, if you get my drift.

  60. Sorry Bilb, ‘The Scream’ was created by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch. He had ill health and a few dark clouds in his youth. His distinctive style was shaped in his early development as an artist where he was influenced by a nihilistic to do ‘soul painting’ and capture his own emotional and psychological state.

    Here is a project instigated by Norman Swan using art as an outlet for kids to express themselves on their experience of COVID-19.

    Here in the Tropical North we are used to comparing models and look at ensembles of models predicting cyclone tracks and therefor aid risk assessment and management. The comparison is apt with modeling a pandemic, both phenomenon display similar chaotic (in a mathematical sense) behavior. What is telling by this collection of models on where the US is heading to wrt COVID-19. Note all models apart one show no peaking in foreseeable time.

  61. Edvard Munch, ill health and worries.
    Vincent, first surviving son after t’other died.
    Leonardo, illegitimate.

    Some of those might have caused “trauma”. Kids stuck at home is scarcely “trauma”. First world perspective. Sheesh!!

    Vincent and his Potato Eaters before he brightened up.

  62. This is in response to Geoff’s comment on the Salon thread.

    Geoff, I’ve heard multiple virologists explaining that the Wuhan lab was working on viruses which were quite different from this one, and explain that examination of the virus itself shows how the virus has mutated over the last 50 years, but there is no evidence of human engineering.

    The Wuhan lab is not a closed Chinese lab. International collaborators have been working there for years. A couple of years ago there was concern about security at the lab, but this was fixed.

    Elsewhere, re-examination of old tests in France has identified a case where a man with no known contacts with China tested positive to the virus. The article references a case in California also from December 2019.

    Single tests can be wrong. While this evidence is not conclusive it suggests that Trump’s claim that China could have stopped the virus right there is nonsense. In any case China’s response that that stage would have had to be way more competent than his own bumbling to have made a difference.

    I heard yesterday that the US tried to stop the Principality of Andorra from receiving help from Cuban doctors. Andorra told the Americans to bugger off.

    Elsewhere, again, Tom Switzer interviewed someone defending Sweden’s approach to the virus. The approach was pretty much, don’t kill the economy. more people might die short term, but their policy was only bringing forward their deaths. He was suggesting that Sweden’s neighbours would catch up with Sweden as they tried to open their economies.

    Tim Dunlop says that Morrison is knowingly opening our economy although he admits it mean more deaths.

  63. The Andorra/Cuba tie-up, a novel tie-in to Cold War intrigues. Whadda we got? Latino commos, ski slopes and secret bank accounts? Tax fraud? Virus labs organised by Herr Goldfinger??

    The possibilities are huge.

    Donald, get on the phone to Hollywood; you could negotiate a NATO/Disney deal.

    Popcorn and blockbusters, Donald.
    Way to go.
    Open up the cinemas.

    (Plot outline: Miss Universe contest to be held in Andorra, Cubans posing as doctors attempt sabotage. Walk on role for The Donald- as hisself.)

  64. Yes, thanks for that Ootz. I’ve just learned that from D2 in NZ, and the difference between Munch’s expressionism and van Gogh’s impressionism. I actually like “the potatoe eaters”, it could well be my family on canvas.

    There will be so much more of ” Andorra told the Americans to bugger off.”

    A little bit of extra fore history to the “buying Greenland” is that apparently the US Virgin Islands were originally owned by Danmark, but the US coerced them to hand them over to the US during the First World War by threatening to just take them over any way. Trump thought he could be the big deal maker and do it again.

    Re Covid-19 this is the information you need to take in
    Take your time, research the terms used. Conclusion? don’t catch it!

  65. Jurassic Park, eh?
    That nicely matches my very amateur suggestion about an Andorra/Cuba killer thriller. Because if memory serves, there was a movie (doco) about that very Park, was there not?

    I think they offered a major in Jurassic Studies at Trump University.

    Well done, zoot.
    Please keep us informed.

    PS some of those Park staff sound like utter wimps. How can the owners Make Jurassic Park Great Again, with that sort of loser attitude??? Amiright?!!

  66. Experts suggest public toilets and offices should be re-engineered to reduce the spread of infection https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-10/covid-19-should-toilets-be-redesigned-for-infection-control/12228064. Lots of good suggestions and pointing out.
    Key points:
    Hand washing can be rendered useless if people have to touch unclean surfaces.
    Improved hand washing could also reduce rates of influenza and the common cold
    Open-plan offices may be in for a shake-up thanks to physical distancing requirements
    Other ideas include:
    While bathrooms might have soap and paper towels for handwashing, they lack the facilities for people to avoid re-contaminating their hands by touching the taps, soap dispensers and the door handles.

    “There are a lot of things that could be put into design and structure that make it easier for people to comply with what they should be doing,” he said.

    “Being able to open and close doors without using your hands. Making it easier to physically distance yourself from other people.

    “[Installing] sensor taps, provided they are reliable, because you are even worse off if you haven’t got any water at all.

    “Being able to easily use paper towels or hand-dryers if put the right position so they don’t stir up everything.

    “They are all good features that we should have everywhere but particularly in places like public toilets that are shared by lots of people.”
    “‘Make bathrooms circular’
    Listener to ABC Radio Perth agreed the design of many shared bathrooms made it impossible avoid touching surfaces.

    Todd: “Why do 90 per cent of doors exiting public toilets require you to use your hand? Make them open out so you can use your foot.”

    Peter: “I agree. The reduction of influenza is a more important general need to avoid passing on contagions. Auto flush urinals and entrance doors.”

    Julia: “Make circular rooms with one-way entry only and separate exit for public toilets. Auto door to loo itself. Sensor washing facilities.”

  67. John

    Have you seen those long handled taps in hospital wash rooms that csn be moved by ysing your elbow or lower arm (without touching by hand)?

    Shouldn’t be too expensive to install.

    I was surprised to see them.in the toilet wash room at a cafe in Prahran. Then realised it was right across the road from a hospital; most likely a large percentage of their customers were hospital staff.

  68. And here’s a brief extract from testimony by a public health official, before a US Senate committee:

    “My concern is that if some areas, city, states, or what have you, jump over those various checkpoints, and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks … The consequences could be really serious.”

    And as Trump has claimed more than once, is the virus going to disappear? “That is just not going to happen.”

    That’s Dr Fauci.
    “Guardian” Australia

  69. Indeed, Ambi, Bruce Shapiro told Phillip Adams last night that so many in the Whitehouse were testing positive to Covid that Trump’s office was starting to look like a virus hotspot.

    There is concern that if there is a second wave anywhere they economic consequences for that place will be devastating.

    One factor is depression and suicide. Ian Hickie said the otyher night that the projections in Australia from the first wave were an increase of 25 to 50% in suicide.

    From what I can find there are already a little over 3000 suicides pa in Australia.

    That makes 750 to 1500 more, so the suicide impact is many times higher than the virus itself in Oz, which currently stands at just below 100.

  70. That makes 750 to 1500 more, so the suicide impact is many times higher than the virus itself in Oz, which currently stands at just below 100.

    So the government cure is way worse than the medical disease on that metric alone.

    Hopefully the reductions in road deaths, regular communicable disease deaths, workplace deaths, nightclub deaths, etc,etc will make up for the suicides.

    I wonder how much the Swedish suicide rate will go up in comparison.

  71. So the government cure is way worse than the medical disease on that metric alone.

    Unless of course you have evidence that without the “government cure” Australia would have seen less than 750 to 1500 deaths.
    Based on Sweden’s experience that is highly unlikely.

  72. So the government cure is way worse than the medical disease on that metric alone.

    That is only the case if less than 750 to 1500 extra deaths would have been caused by the government not putting in place a cure.
    Based on Sweden’s experience that is highly unlikely.

  73. Jumpy: If the government had done nothing businesses would still have gone out of business because of the effect of the virus on customers and employees both in terms of getting sick or being scared of getting sick. If the government had done nothing about boosting welfare many of the newly unemployed would have faced extreme financial crisis. It would be surprising if suicides didn’t go up for the people affected by government lack of action.
    Apart from the”let them die” what would liberation have urged. (Relaxing of gun laws to make it easier for people to commit suicide?)

  74. Vietnam is another country that has got outstanding results as a result of what they learned from the SARS crisis. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-13/coronavirus-vietnam-no-deaths-success-in-south-east-asia/12237314
    “Key to Vietnam’s success have been strategic testing, aggressive contact tracing and effective public communications campaigns.
    Most importantly, it did these things quickly.
    “From very early on, it was understood that this is something very serious, a virus that can infect everyone,” Dr Le Thu said.
    “Not just the person affected but everyone around them.”
    Worth a read.

  75. Official unemployment rises to only 6.2%. Figure looks good because of dramatic drops in participation rate and average working hours. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-14/unemployment-jobs-abs-april-recession/12247154

    “Australia’s unemployment rate has posted its steepest monthly rise on record, with 594,300 people losing their jobs in April as restrictions to limit coronavirus shut thousands of businesses and affected many more.

    However, the official jobless rate published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics only climbed by 1 percentage point, from 5.2 to 6.2 per cent in April, because of a slump in the proportion of people looking for work.

    “The large drop in employment did not translate into a similar-sized rise in the number of unemployed people because around 489,800 people left the labour force,” observed Bjorn Jarvis, the head of labour statistics at the ABS.

    Mr Jarvis said that the 2.4-percentage-point slump in the participation rate — those people either in work or actively looking for it — was unprecedented.

    “This means there was a high number of people without a job who didn’t or couldn’t actively look for work or weren’t available for work,” he explained.

    But it was not just a record fall in participation that prevented the official jobless number rising higher.

    Employers slashed the working hours of their employees, with hours worked slumping 9.2 per cent between March and April.

    When taken together with the fall in participation, the ABS said around one-in-five people who were employed in March either left employment altogether or had their hours reduced, affecting 2.7 million Australians.

    That has shown up in much more dramatic increases in the key measures of underemployment and underutilisation, which are both at record highs, even greater than the levels seen during either the global financial crisis or early-1990s recession.

    Underemployment — those with a job who wanted more hours of work — surged by more than 600,000 to 1.8 million people, taking the rate to a record high of 13.7 per cent, up nearly 5 per cent in just a month.

    Underutilisation, which adds unemployment and underemployment together, also jumped to a record high of 19.9 per cent.”

  76. John Davidson
    MAY 13, 2020 AT 10:16 PM.

    Please don’t build the straw man that I wanted governments to do nothing. I wanted them to do differently.

    Apart from the”let them die” what would liberation have urged. (Relaxing of gun laws to make it easier for people to commit suicide?)

    I’ve heard this disgusting accusation too many times.
    Dirty pool at its worst.

    I’m just weighing up how many live it will cost to save how many lives.

    I can sort of understand your panicked lashing out given that the China virus targets mainly male boomers and their parents for death.

  77. Coronavirus concerns raised by Adelaide rail passengers after social distancing breaches revealed. See picture https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-14/coronavirus-fears-on-packed-adelaide-trains-after-service-cuts/12246606
    Adelaide train
    Regular commuter Corey Wolf, who posted a photo taken during his journey along the Gawler line on Tuesday 12 May, said he was concerned for the safety of himself and other passengers.

    “It was packed, it was pre-COVID shoulder to shoulder, full-carriage packed. It was a bit of a shock to be honest,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning.

    “It was really uncomfortable.”

  78. Please don’t build the straw man that I wanted governments to do nothing. I wanted them to do differently.

    Yes, you wanted the Australian government to do like the Swedish government. Thank goodness nobody took your advice.
    (You never recommended the Vietnamese or Taiwanese governments as models, which in hindsight would have been better).

  79. It’s too early for hindsight you pillock, it’s not over.
    And the Vietnamese stats are as reliable as communist China’s, fantastic, unreal and incredible.

    I realise the left don’t care for the casualties of this private sector shutdown because they’re just “ private sector capitalists “, fuck em.
    Meanwhile the “ public servant sector “ face no loss of income, some will even get pay increases.

  80. I realise the left don’t care for the casualties of this private sector shutdown because they’re just “ private sector capitalists “, fuck em.

    Now who’s building straw men?

  81. Look, the “ lowering of the curve “ was to buy time and prevent the health system from being overrun, not get deaths to zero.

    We’re not going to stop this with a vaccine this year despite trumps ambitions.

    The hospitals up here are almost ghost towns according to my three nurse friends , what other maladies are being ignored ?

  82. Ok zoot. I gave you two chance to show an inkling of cerebral activity or discourse worthiness.

    You failed again, you’re ignored again.

  83. The hospitals up here are almost ghost towns

    Most rational people would see that as a good thing.

    what other maladies are being ignored ?

    Why not ask your three nurse friends? They should tell you that the precautions which have been taken against Covid-19 will also reduce the prevalence of other infectious diseases.
    My daughter the doctor (in Cairns) says no maladies are being ignored but some elective procedures have been postponed to a safer date.

  84. Jumpy: New scientist, pp1, 9 May 2020: Some interesting bits from: “Massive decline in flu cases during Australia’s lockdown.”
    Australia’s flu season normally peaks during winter but often starts to build in January. however, this year it had 6962 lab confirmed cases in Jan… but dropped to only 229 in April 2020 compared with 18,705 in April 2019!! …..The sharp fall in cases is probably due to Aus decision to control the spread of COVID-19 by banning non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people on 16 Mar and shutting its borders on 20 Mar and……..
    Worth noting that between 1500 and 3000 Australians die of flu in a normal yr. That is a lot of deaths that will be saved by COVID-19 action even if there is no reduction in expected Covid-19 deaths!!
    Behavioral changes like increased hand washing may mean flu related deaths will stay low for some time into the future.

  85. Thank you. Good links, but they don’t rebut what I have written.

    (I’m quite impressed that the ABC which is biased, unreliable and not to be trusted and should be privatised as soon as possible is your reference of choice.
    Didn’t you like what your nurse friends said?)

  86. A couple of weeks ago when Palaszczuk was briefing on Covid she said there had been only 9 cases of flu as against over 900 last year.

    I’m not sure what that applies to. Possibly hospital emissions in April. The difference in the numbers is the point.

    Jumpy you can’t simply assert that Vietnam and China stats are bogus. From emory FT estimates of 15 countries, mostly western, was that they should have been about 60% higher.

    I’m inclined to think the story in Wuhan may have been under. An eye-witness account sounded a bit like what was happening in Italy with health services initially overrun and personnel exhausted.

    I’m inclined to think that Vietnam is about right, because people who know people who live there say it rings true.

    Easier to count when there only a few.

  87. Today in the AFR we are told that there has been 60 fewer deaths on the road this year (cf. about 100 so far from Covid 19.)

    I heard Brendan Murphy quoted as saying that he suspected the real number of infections was in the order of 20 million, rather than the 4.4 million in the official count. This makes it far more infectious but less lethal.

    John, the the crowded bus image in SA is a worry. They probably can get away with it because the virus in SA may be effectually eliminated – for now.

    In Britain they promised guidelines for how public transport should operate before they let people use it on Monday. They failed. I heard that National Cabinet is going to look at guidelines here.

    One of my wife’s singing mates did some research on singing. The output of aerosols for singers is many times that of people acting normally (7 times from memory). The Germans in allowing church services banned singing.

    Two new cases in Qld. One is actually old, and of no great concern. The other is a worry because it has just popped up in Rockhampton, which had had no new cases for quite a stretch.

  88. John, a critical data point in the employment figures is the hours work have reduced by 9.2%.

    I read somewhere that 750,000 people who did no work were classified as employed. That came fro Jim Stanford who I think works for The Australia Institute.

  89. Brian: “John, the the crowded bus image in SA is a worry. They probably can get away with it because the virus in SA may be effectually eliminated – for now.”
    Some people have been babbling on about “public and active transport” as the solution to congestion and transport emissions. Others babble on about driverless cars.
    The virus has challenged this type of thinking.

  90. So regular flu numbers are way down.
    I remember predicting that and zoot said “ nonsense.

    I also predicted we’d eventually go the Swedish model.


    Looks likely.

    I also said this global recession we’re starting will Inevitably kill people, we’ll see. Zoot thinks it nonsense and an accounting thang.

    Luckily CNN have a covid19 expert panel that includes Greta Thunberg.

  91. Just for a little perspective, let’s compare ALPs swine flu to LNPs Wuhan flu.

    Rudd, 37,269 confirmed cases, 190 deaths, no shutdown.

    Morrison, 6,989 confirmed cases, 89 deaths, economically crippling shutdown.


    Main differences would be media’s preferred party to attack and swine flu didn’t prefer killing boomers.

  92. Keep in mind that those exact numbers are rubbery.
    There is a +/- margin of error.
    The gist remains.

  93. Jumpy: “Sweden’s per-capita coronavirus death toll is among the highest in the world — a sign its decision to avoid a lockdown might not be working.” https://www.businessinsider.com.au/sweden-coronavirus-per-capita-death-rate-among-highest-2020-5?r=US&IR=T
    By contrast Vietnam has had zero deaths.
    Part of the problem with the Swedish approach is that there is some uncertainty re how much immunity comes from having had the virus. There is also of course the number of deaths that seem to be required if herd immunity is to be achieved.

  94. From my link,

    “ its per capita death rate lower than those of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.”

    Your link said China had zero deaths per 100,000 and you believe Vietnam has zero deaths.
    I’m sorry but I can’t take you seriously at the moment.

  95. Jumpy, I’ll listen to that later, but it is not news that a string of Asian countries had preparations for this kind of virus.

    Taiwan’s success was because they acted early (Jan 1). Vietnam also acted as soon as human to human transmission was confirmed by China (Jan 20 approx).

    Your statement that Sweden’s

      per capita death rate [is] lower than those of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.”

    Is correct according to this site. However at 350 per million it is high, and higher than the countries around it, ie. Finland (52). Norway (43), Denmark (93 and Germany (95).

    It’s a democracy and it’s their call. I’ve heard several Swedish medical specialists defend it.

    Financial Times thinks Sweden unlikely to feel economic benefit of no-lockdown approach.

    Every country has to make their own decisions in their own circumstances. I’m glad I live in Australia. We’ve done well so far, although we could have done better, but much will depend on how we handle the next phase.

  96. Jumpy @ May15, 2020 at 3:18 PM
    For someone who hates strawmen your comment contains way too much straw (did you ever build a house for a little pig?)
    I’ll give you two chances to show an inkling of cerebral activity (seems only fair) but please excuse my failure to call you a dolt.
    1. What you intended to write regarding deaths from flu was not what you wrote and it was the sentences you wrote which I labelled nonsense, not the concept you valiantly failed to express.
    2. My comment regarding recessions was really tackling semantics. To put my argument in a form with which you are familiar and which I hope you will find less threatening – guns recessions don’t kill people, people kill people.
    Have a good weekend.

  97. Brian, Sweden is betting on no second wave with herd immunity ( should readthat link first ).

    If the financial times thinks not racking up billions of debt is not Economically beneficial then they’re a rag not worth reading.

  98. Jumpy: “If the financial times thinks not racking up billions of debt is not Economically beneficial then they’re a rag not worth reading.” Not sure what you mean by this but i would say that world money supply has been growing for years and this is essential if real growth in economies is to occur.
    Sure we can talk about disasters like Zimbabwe and the Wiemar republic where the governments printed so much money that inflation went through the roof and their economies were a disaster. However, this doesn’t mean that it sometimes makes sense for governments to “print money” that they will never buy back.
    My take on this crisis is that the Australian government can finance a lot of what it is doing now by “printing money” that will pay for what has to be done now and will never be repaid. However, if it keeps doing that to the point where inflation starts to get out of hand there will be a problem.

  99. Jumpy, I had read your link. What I hadn’t done was watch the Youtube of Taiwan’s VP.

    Nothing surprising there, given the political situation. The Taiwanese got better help from the Taiwanese perhaps than did the American people, although they did it mostly themselves.

    Their democracy seems in quite good shape with more trust in government than you see hereabouts.

  100. I can recommend people read Why Sweden’s Approach To Coronavirus May Not Be What You Think.

    Seems they take the politics out of government:

      Outwardly, it is Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist, who has led the campaign to contain and deal with Covid-19. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Social Democratic-Green government defer to Tegnell and his colleagues at the Public Health Agency.


      ‘By law and by tradition, Swedish politicians can’t tell the various government agencies what to do, and agencies count relatively few political appointees among their staff.’

      Sweden does not have ministerial government. Individual ministers wield little formal people.

    Nevertheless the pollies ordered gatherings to be limited to 500 and closed schools and universities in favour of online teaching.

    They are specifically not aiming for herd immunity, rather flattening the curve so that their health institutions can cope.

    The big problem with this is that you kill off some of your best medicos, but you also tend to kill part-time and casual workers from minority districts.

    Perhaps their biggest problem has been the carnage in their aged care homes. Apparently to get into such an institution in Sweden you have to be on the final stretch, as it were:

      “Only exceptionally frail people are allowed into state care homes. They are essentially nursing homes for the very frail, and in normal times 28 percent of men and 19 percent of women have died within six months of coming in.”

  101. Brian: Your link to Sweden just takes me back to the start of my post.
    You make Sweden sound like a libertarian paradise:
    “Seems they take the politics out of government:
    Outwardly, it is Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist, who has led the campaign to contain and deal with Covid-19. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Social Democratic-Green government defer to Tegnell and his colleagues at the Public Health Agency.
    ‘By law and by tradition, Swedish politicians can’t tell the various government agencies what to do, and agencies count relatively few political appointees among their staff.’
    Sweden does not have ministerial government. Individual ministers wield little formal power.” No wonder Sir Jumpy has leaped in as the Swedes champion.
    I have had enough to do with leading researchers to realize research is not all about the disinterested pursuit of truth. Egos are involved, competition for grants and promotions is involved. Even someone as pure as I secretly longs for the triumph of the JD theory of everything.
    Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist, who has led the campaign to contain and deal with Covid-19 may be the wrong person to lead. Particularly if he has been associated with a particular theory for dealing with pandemics or lacks the confidence to deal with bullying from business and economists. Alarm bells should be ringing in Sweden given the difference with Swedish and other Scandinavian countries. The government of Sweden should be insisting on a review.

  102. The Swedes didnt order anything, they strongly recommend.

    The inevitable revues will happen after the rest of Scandinavia and the world have suffered the second wave.
    Sweden bank on not having a second wave, as I linked to above.

    I don’t understand why some insist I provide links but refuse to read them when I do.

  103. To answer the topic of this post I think that what we can learn from Taiwan (and Vietnam) is that best practice involves testing, tracing and isolation.

  104. You make Sweden sound like a libertarian paradise

    JD, didn’t our Mackay correspondent suggest it was a socialist hell, with its crippling rates of taxation wasted on supporting ne’er do wells?

  105. Nope, that’s you imagining and eluding to a lie again Zoot.
    We’re used to it from you.
    Carry on.

  106. Zoot: “JD, didn’t our Mackay correspondent suggest it was a socialist hell, with its crippling rates of taxation wasted on supporting ne’er do wells?”
    That is what he says when what Sweden is doing doesn’t agree with his Libertarian view of the world.

  107. Nope, that’s you imagining and eluding to a lie again Zoot.

    I could have sworn you decried the Scandinavian economic models. Glad to hear you actually agree with them.
    Solidarity comrade.

  108. As a general way of making decisions, I’d favour the German model, where Merkel is advised by an Ethics Commission. You can argue about the composition of the Commission, but it’s a good model.

    Sweden says it is following science, which has all the problems John mentioned.

    What the Taiwanese did on January 1 (from this comment) was to activate the:

      Central Epidemic Command Centre, or CECC, created after the SARS outbreak. Within five weeks, the CECC had implemented at least 124 action items covering border control, proactive case finding and public reassurance, holding daily briefings to keep the public informed.

    It seemed to work pretty well.

    I understand Taiwan is about to open its borders to China and South Korea.

    Germany is beginning a phased opening of borders within the Shengen zone starting with Luxembourg, France, Austria and Switzerland.

    I believe that we should only look at countries that are similarly placed in terms of control, like NZ, Taiwan, South Korea, China and Vietnam in the first instance.

    That would have to be after we open state borders, surely.

  109. Crikey, Brian.

    Surely State borders opened first…..

    Imagine the hullabaloo that’d ensue if bl**dy foreigners were allowed to start landing at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth etc. airports, while dinkie Aussie drivers couldn’t drive across State borders!!

    No way, Hose Eh.

  110. Ambi: “while dinkie Aussie drivers couldn’t drive across State borders!!” You obviously haven’t lived in places like Qld and WA where they have well established prejudices against anything south of the Qld border or to the east of the WA border.
    We were surprised to find when we moved to WA that the suspects for nearly all crimes were “criminals from the Eastern States.”

  111. John, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase ‘Sydney or the bush’.

    It’s standard for human beings to think otherwise of people at a distance.

  112. To right Brian.
    There are well established prejudices from city folk toward regional folk.

    In fact every individual has some well established prejudices in em.

    ( hopefully not racist ones like zoot )

  113. I’d like to recount here the case of the staff member of a Rockhampton aged care home, who tested positive to the virus.

    Apparently she travelled to Brisbane for a medical reason, which is now deemed OK by the authorities. Seems she picked up Covid 19 in Brisbane and probably has been infectious from when she returned to Rockhampton on 3 May or soon thereafter.

    She became mildly symptomatic, then had a test, but here’s the rub – she kept working until the test came back positive.

    From memory, there were 110 residents and 180 staff associated with the facility.

    Now 235 tests have been done, all negative, with another 37 awaiting results. Contact tracing is proceding apace. 35 residents have been moved elsewhere. An extra testing clinic has been set up in town so that anyone in the city of district can be tested.

    This was a preplanned emergency operation which we are told went like clockwork.

    Other than that there were no new cases in Qld yesterday and there are now only 12 active cases.

    If the folk from Bundaberg north had their own state, and they are welcome to leave any time, they would not have had the internal resources to sort an incident like this.

  114. What I haven’t heard is whether the Rockhampton staff member who worked while sick was a casual worker without any sick leave entitlements.

  115. In fact every individual has some well established prejudices in em.
    ( hopefully not racist ones like zoot )

    There you go again Jumpy, putting words in my mouth.
    Not sure if you’re building straw men again or just imagining and eluding to a lie.
    I realise it’s like explaining quantum mechanics to a cheese sandwich but I feel obliged to try.
    I admit that my upbringing in the fifties instilled in me a tendency to racism – I’m a product of my times. The fact that I am self aware enough to recognise it means I am able to counter this aspect of my being whenever it arises, thus ensuring I never express it through prejudice.
    Self awareness; you should try it sometime.

  116. For the record, ‘elude’ means escape from or avoid (a danger, enemy, or pursuer), typically in a skilful or cunning way.
    “he tried to elude the security men by sneaking through a back door”

    OTOH people can look up ‘allude’ if they need to.

    I’m sure zoot knows what the words mean.

  117. No zoot, you said everyone IS racist.
    But you don’t know everyone, you can only really try to know yourself at best, maybe your family and close friends.

    You admitted to being a racist, simple as that.

    You can be that, fine, just don’t manifest it, then we have a problem.

  118. Thank you Brian. In my defence I was directly quoting the esteemed Jumpy but I will confess the error eluded me. 🙂
    And as I expected my explanation eluded Jumpy, just like explaining quantum mechanics to a cheese sandwich.

  119. No problem, zoot.

    I’ve now found an article about the Rockhampton case.

    It has an excellent interactive map showing where the cases have been in Qld. Still doesn’t answer the query about the person’s employment status.

    Most concern now seems to be people collecting in shopping malls. Not sure how the authorities go about thinning them out.

  120. Brian: The interactive map included in your Rockhampton case link split up sources for various locations. Interstate sources seem rather rare which is not surprising given how far Qld is from major population centers in other states and the low number of cases in the Northern Rivers shires in NSW. https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/stats-lga.aspx
    This picture was taken at Miami on the Gold Coast.
    Miami Gold Coast walking paths
    Not a face covering in place even though some of the people shown would have been at risk of breeching distancing rules. Would have been better if the pathways had been one way. (Lake Burley Griffin lake edge pathway has been made one way to reduce risk of infection.

  121. Let’s blame spellchook for mistaking elude for allude.

    Nice catch Brian, really got to the guts of what I was saying that correction.


  122. John, when I listened to the Ben Hurley interview with Indira Naidoo, he got pinged and isolated because he had spent more than 15 minutes having a beer with someone who turned out to be infected.

    The 15-minute standard has been used in the Australian app, and has shown up in other jurisdictions. My impression is that ordinary talking and breathing is nowhere near as infectious as coughing or sneezing.

    I did hear somewhere that most infections in Australia are happening inside homes (sorry, no link).

    I had heard earlier that hard surfaces are a problem, where you touch the surface then rub your eyes.

    Singing is different. I’ll do another comment on that.

    On masks, I believe we should all act as though we are asymptomatically infected hence should wear a mask to avoid infecting others.

  123. One of my wife’s singing mates did some work on the science behind the effects of singing. The news is all bad.

    • Singing is like prolonged coughing in that the same amount of droplets are produced, only worse because singing is sustained.
    • Singing ‘aah’ for 30 seconds produces twice as many droplets as coughing.
    • Singing produces six times as many droplets as normal talking.

    So a choir would need four square metres of space per person if singing indoors. Probably singing in choirs will have to wait both both a vaccine and a 95% effective treatment.

  124. Brian: “On masks, I believe we should all act as though we are asymptomatically infected hence should wear a mask to avoid infecting others.”
    My problem is that there seems to be little data on the effect of masks or at least nose+mouth covering with cloth or whatever. Ditto re how much difference changing distancing rules. Could be difficult given that air flow direction and force makes a lot of difference.
    My take as I have said before the two arm length spacing sounds like a casually made first guess that has become holy grail. (Happens quite often in my experience.)
    The current distancing rules make public transport impractical which makes getting everyone to work impractical. We need to get some science into distancing and what would happen if wearing masks was compulsory at least in public transport and crowded spaces and shopping centers.
    Son Peter living in LA and working in the medical dept of the University of California San Diego had this to say: “The consensus here is a cloth mask doesn’t protect the wearer (much, anyway) but it does substantially contain droplet propagation from the wearer to others, so at a population level will reduce the spread because people who are recently infected (and hence shedding virus) but not symptomatic (so not feeling the need to self-quarantine) won’t spread it as much.
    Probably more pertinently for us, it’s currently illegal in most of
    California to enter a business without wearing a face mask (whether cloth or N95) and in some parts of the state it’s illegal to be in public anywhere without one. In LA it’s not illegal to be in public without one but it is ‘strongly recommended’ and you certainly get a lot of dirty looks walking down the street without one.
    Bit disturbing to find Aus is behind LA in Trump’s America.

  125. John, I think I agree with all that. Early decisions were made on the the basis of the information coming out of China and what was known about this kind of virus.

    However, the big point was that this virus is new.

    Here some of the early decisions were based on the lack of availability of certain items. Hence masks had to be saved because the medical profession had to take priority. Taiwan was self-sufficient in masks.

    But we weren’t told it was because of supply, we were told they were unnecessary, or even bad, which they are if not used properly.

    In general there is now a lot of research being done, but the peer review system is being short-circuited. In effect everyone now gets to see the researchers’ final draft, which may make for a better result in the long run, as it’s a kind of open review.

    However, policy is being made in the meantime on the results, instead of waiting. One example was the NSW study on school children, quoted as gospel by Murphy and co, when the woman leading the research said that no policy should be made based on the research at this stage.

  126. Brian

    There’s a large difference between a review by the general public and a peer review.

    Peers are supposed to be chosen (by the journal) to be very knowledgeable and sharp in their critique. [Often the authors of a published paper thank a reviewer for improving a draft or spotting an error or advising a better approach.]

    Peers recommend rejection or revision.

    That’s why it can be a slow process. The reviewer may have her own postgrads to supervise, her own research to continue with, lecturing duties; heaven forfend: she may have a family! !

    Even then, poor research or unwarranted results get published: slipping through the critique stage, sometimes (it seems) because of confirmation bias.

    The practices of University / Research Institute/ Govt Dept PR, marketing, media relations outfits are more or less directly antithetical to the careful precision needed in weeding out unfounded or dodgy drafts.

    They want Gee Whizz, media splashes, Any Publicity Is Good Publicity. They tend to oversimplify results (to the point of meaninglessness); which is understandable as they don’t have the specualist knowledge.

    A few decades ago, “preprints” of carefully considered research work would circulate amonngst colleagues around the world.

    Now it’s straight onto the Web, in a few cases.

    Not good.

    How is a journalist who can’t contact the authors supposed to sort out wheat from chaff? ? And how is a Facebook enthusiast supposed to???

  127. Ambi, in his later career James Hansen used the open review technique with some success. The advantage is that all experts can make their contribution, not just the selected reviewers. The selection of the reviewers had been problematic, and the process lacked transparency.

    So it’s not a bad way to go, but has its own disadvantages, which include access and misinterpretation by people who are not qualified and can amplify their misinterpretations in various ways.

  128. This morning we were told on local radio that the Rockhampton woman was indeed a casual employee.

    The pay rate of casuals is supposed to include a sick leave contribution. Problem is that almost no-one sets that money aside.

    Also there was some support I believe from the state for casuals put in isolation, but there is problem about this information being known by those entitled.

    Also pay may not have been the issue in this case. We don’t know.

  129. “Peer review” has its attractions but it can be a mechanism for blocking out new ideas and maintaining the oppressive influence of the establishment. I favour mechanisms that allow the revolutionaries to get stuff blocked during peer review to be published in full with a “blocked during peer review” warning and preferably accompanied by the reasons for blocking.
    Having said that I appreciate the dangers of having selected extracts published by the raving internet.

  130. That’s fine, John.

    Anyone is permitted to self-publish anything.
    Novels, poems, song lyrics; why, even political and social commentary

    But science (and medicine) have been successful precisely because of the stringency and high standards of checking.

    Sensible researchers discuss their work privately with immediate and distant colleagues…. the possibilities are endless. They re-check their methods and apparatus; they use statistical methods to look for biases or estimate uncertainties. This is before venturing to publish.

    Error is likely; equipment and humans can err.

    Yes, we all know of instances where unusual ideas were blocked, sometimes for decades.

    But rigour must surely have prevented thousands of false claims being published “in the name of science” or “in the hope of a cure”.

    I’ll be told that rigour’s first cousin is rigor mortis; frankly, I don’t give a d*mn.

    On balance, of course.

  131. Open review BY EXPERTS, now that’s a different kettle of fish.

    Sounds good to me, Brian.

  132. Young Ambi: “In my long long life I have had a lot to do with scientific research and been entertained and sometimes disgusted by the personality clashes, prolonged arguments over this and that and fights for the precious grant money. Wouldn’t really want any of these science warriors determining what should be published in their field. Perhaps all wise outsiders who will never want any of their stuff published?

  133. Wise elder John.

    There’s a nice observation,

    disputes in academia are all the more vicious, because the stakes are so low

    I’ve seen thus attributed to President Wilson and to Henry Kissinger, which likely indicates it originates with neither.

    Yes, many academic scientists are <Prima Donnas but in my observation that characteristic is not exclusive to the Faculties if Science and Engineering. Not at all.

    By the way, when ARC grants, other Govt funding, industry funding etc are at risk, the stakes can be quite high. And the focus on getting grants and their $$ value, is (I think) another distorting factor in Australian research.

    A few academics will assert that some of their best work was done without any grant at all yet the poobahs within and outside universities use total competitive grant moneys as their prime measure of research excellence.

    So foolish, so simplistic, so bl**dy annoying.


  134. Qld CHO Dr Jeannette Young said today that she did not think we would ever defeat the virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2).

    Norman Swan told us why today. He said it is just too sneaky. Can last in someone without symptoms, then pass it onto someone else without symptoms and then pop up where least expected.

    Dr Young said don’t think you are safe if you live in a provincial town that has been virus-free for a while.

    This brings us to the question of how much longer we are going to shut interstate borders.

    Professor Paul Kelly, deputy CMO, said today that he was never in favour of closing state borders.

    Dr Young said maybe July we’ll let them in, but Palaszczuk is saying maybe September, so I gather they haven’t had a serious discussion about it yet.

  135. Young Ambi: By co-incidence, in some of my lives have had quite a bit of experience in experimental research and the financial supporting of research programs. Also have a wife and son who are somewhat talented at extracting grant money. So what can I tell you:
    Firstly, quite often the benefit of a piece of research is completely different to the initial aims of the research. It may be something that a good researcher recognizes in the results. Or something observed during the experiment that had nothing to do with the experiment. Or some benefit people get by talking to the researching expert.
    My take is that those who are successful at getting grants are strategic, observant, recognize unexpected potential in what they see, communicate their results well and build up good relations with the people they do research for. Some technically good researchers need the support of people who are good at getting support.
    My wife was good at getting grants for her community. She would ring up the granting organization, talk to them about what their current concerns and buzzwords were and write grant apps that took advantage of this information. On one occasion she wanted a grant to support reading to young kids. When she found out the obsession of the day was activities for old the grant morphed into a request to support old people reading to children. When the project was done there would be a report of the wondrous things their grant had allowed to be done and an article in the local newspaper. The granters need all the thanks they could get to convince politicians that the granter was helping to get support.
    Go forth young AMBI and get a grant for improving the qualities of high drays!!!

  136. Brian: “Dr Young said maybe July we’ll let them in, but Palaszczuk is saying maybe September, so I gather they haven’t had a serious discussion about it yet.”
    Do you think it is good politics to keep the cockroaches out until after the election?

    • Do you think it is good politics to keep the cockroaches out until after the election?

    I honestly don’t know. Whatever they do Frecklington and Mander will say it’s wrong, the ABC will poke a microphone under there nose to record their whinge, but I’m not sure anyone is paying too much attention.

  137. Cockroaches now, are we?

    Experience shows that the strongest measures must be taken to prevent Dr Brown and his Caravanserai of Shame, snaking its way across the State of Adani.

    Problem is, Dr Brown’s minions could sneak across individually, not in a big group; then reassemble at a predetermined location to form up into Caravanserai numbers.

    Cockroaches are cunning.

    {John, could I get a grant for this? I was thinking of calling it a “Flash Mob” because we would ask all those Doctors’ Wives to drive north in their flash /posh cars (with their hippies hidden as they crossed the border).}

  138. Ambigulous, let me explain.

    Victorians are not cockroaches and never have been. The general term for southerners is ‘Mexicans’.

    The term ‘cockroaches’ is strictly reserved for NSW people. My memory is that the label arose in the context of rugby league State of Origin matches which started in about 1980.

    Prior to that there was an interstate series, but Sydney-based Queensland players used to play for NSW, and you could put your house on the result. We got flogged nearly every time.

    Sydney had poker machines, which we didn’t have at that time. The wealth generated from gambling allowed the Sydney clubs to poach our players at will.

    Senator Ron McAuliffe and some others came up with the ‘state of origin’ concept. Arthur Beetson was then in the twilight of his career and I think playing second grade, but he was picked to lead the charge. He set the tone by going the biff on former team mate Michael O’Connor. Qld won the first match, and it took a few years for NSW to win a series. It was said for many years that they didn’t have the same passion as Quennsland players.

    NSW started calling people north of the Tweed ‘cane toads’. We returned favour by calling them ‘cockroaches’.

    John D, of course was raised in the Hunter Valley. He later worked in the Central Qld coal mines, and retired to Brisbane.

    Last year, I think, they moved to Ballina, which is a really lovely town in lovely country, but for me a bit far out of town, being a two-hour drive. As well, Brisbane is the natural service centre for the northern rivers area, and probably the New England Tablelands, because the border was drawn to make NSW bigger than Victoria in population, against rationality.

    Gold Coast, with a population bigger than Tasmania, has matured into quite a sophisticated provincial centre. We tend to think of it as the ‘glitter strip’, hopelessly unnatural and commercial. The current mayor would sell you fresh air if he could.

    This morning there is quite a bit of chatter on the radio about border opening. Dr Young is worried about community transmission in NSW and Victoria. There hasn’t been much here.

    However, keeping the border closed during the whole winter tourist season is not a trivial thing. I had been thinking mainly of the Gold Coast, but it’s the Sunshine Cost, Hervey Bay, the Whitsundays, Cairns, the Daintree, not to mention the ‘grey nomads’ who roam the inland and everywhere in between. It’s a big deal.

    It’s up for review at the end of each month. I’d put a bit of money on some relaxation from late June/July to catch the school holidays.

  139. Thanks

    BTW, what is “going the biff”?

    We play only gentlemanly sports in Victoria and abhor ruffians.

    (I had heard that NSW folk called Victorians “Mexicans”. What then are Tasmanians?? Salvadorans? Guatemalans? Chilenos??

  140. Ambi: Tasmania has a smaller budget than Brisbane city council. On the other hand Brisbane is closer to Launceston than it is to many parts of Qld. So why should Q’landers worry about Tasmania?
    Qld is divided. I have had serious conversations with people who claim people from West of the Divide like Brian are “a better type of people.” North Q’landers look down on people who come from further south than they do. Certainly wouldn’t accept Jumpy’s claim to be a Q’lander.
    WA is different. They are all united in their belief that the “Eastern States” are the source of all evil. What Perth people call “the Northwest” is West of Perth but only halfway up WA and opposite Rockhampton. You don’t get the equivalent of North Qlanders looking down on every one because most born West Australians hide in the SW corner. Here endeth the sociological analysis of places far far away from miserable Victoria.

  141. Most informative John.

    Years ago I raised the matter of Engkush oersoba making fun of the Irish with a fellow who lives in Germany.

    He told me that in Germany people make fun of the West Friesians, while in Canada it’s the Newfoundlanders who are the butt.

    Recently I saw a paperback with the extraordinary title, New Zealanders’ Favourite Jokes About Australians .

    What on Earth are they on about???!!!

  142. That would be
    English persons

    I know narthing of
    Engkush oersoba
    though am willing to learn.

  143. Apparently WHO never called Taiwan about the China virus at all.

    Now China insist WHO run the “ open and transparent “ investigation that over 100 Countries want.

    A suspect can’t be a detective.

    Communists will be communists I suppose.

  144. Mr J

    I believe that many neighbours of China are well placed to figure out what’s going on in the PRC.

    I would include in this group: Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong (autonomous whatever it is), Singapore, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, Mongolia, …..

    The Govts don’t wait for the WHO, why should they?

    You may recall that the Morrison Govt was a few days ahead of the WHO in deciding a pandemic had begun. Sovereign nations have plenty of sources of information, ranging from their diplomats posted (in China and neighbouring nations, in this case) to newspapers and other media, traveller’s tales and so forth.

    And for the specific example of a medical emergency, there are international networks of clinicians, epidemiologists, virologists etc. They talk to each other, Mr J.

  145. All fair enough Mr A.
    Jurisdictions have different preparedness and actions.
    I believe 60% of China virus deaths in America occurred in just 5 Democrat governed States.

  146. I look forward to a comprehensive and technically accurate investigation of this pandemic outbreak, by a suitable international body.

    This must include a review (and if necessary a critique) of the actions and decision-making of the WHO itself and any other relevant international organisations.

  147. Australia needs to run its own internal investigation to see what they could have done better, what plan is required for the next pandemic and what resources should be stored for the early stage of the crisis etc.
    This should not be part of a gotcha exercise.

  148. Yes, we can and should do that also.

    I bet many Australian hospitals and many Health Depts have begun already, now that the worst has passed (it seems).

  149. The thing about independent, well-researched investigations is that they can report in technical detail, and leave any “gotcha” grandstanding to politicians or commentators who wish to take a frivolous attitude.

    Statesmen and stateswomen can be trusted to rise above that level, si??

  150. I believe 60% of China virus deaths in America occurred in just 5 Democrat governed States.
    It’s a mistake to use the past tense.
    It’s not over yet, particularly in the USA.

    • I believe 60% of China virus deaths in America occurred in just 5 Democrat governed States.

    If so that’s probably more about demographics than politics. Most Democrat voters live in cities.

    And as zoot said, it’s not over yet.

  151. Ambi, “going the biff” has been pretty much eliminated. If you even touch the head of an opposing player it can be a penalty now.

    • You may recall that the Morrison Govt was a few days ahead of the WHO in deciding a pandemic had begun.

    Ambi, the Australian medico from Singapore I heard on the subject stressed two things.

    There are technicalities around what the word ‘pandemic’ means in the WHO context. There was criticism of the call the WHO made in 2012 or whenever, so there was some caution over this.

    Secondly, he said the term ‘pandemic’ was the wrong playbook.

    I don’t know what he meant by this, but I think the pandemic playbook is what you use when you think you can’t get rid of the thing. China was certainly going for elimination rather than just flattening the curve, and it sounds as though this guy agreed with that.

    He was actually on the WHO panel that made the call. So I’m disappointed in myself that I missed the link.

    In any case, there was plenty of information for people to make a decision to act. Australia under Morrison did bugger all for about six weeks.

    I’m told that the states in the Caribbean acted before they had any cases, and by and large kept the virus out.

    Last night Laura Spinney told Phillip Adams about Kerala’s ‘rockstar’ health minister KK Shailaja, who got this state of 35 million people into gear ahead of time. So far Kerala has had only 4 deaths from Covid-19.

    Kerala, of course, has long had a democratically elected Communist government, so prioritises health and education and looking out for the poor. We were told that they fed the migrant workers, which is more than you can say for us and the rest of India.

  152. I believe 60% of China virus deaths in America occurred in just 5 Democrat governed States.

    Meanwhile, in Australia 60% of Covid-19 deaths have occurred in just two states, both of them led by Liberal Party Premiers.

  153. Thais Score Highest in Survey for Mask-Wearing:

      According to a YouGov survey, 95 percent of Thais constantly wear face masks in public, followed closely by Vietnam (94 percent), Philippines (93 percent), Malaysia (89 percent), and Indonesia (87 percent) – leaving behind Singapore (66 percent).

    I asked my GP about face masks. I didn’t see her, we had a phone consultation, but last time I saw her she was wearing a mask.

    She said that doctors in the US when they couldn’t get more would reuse them on rotation. After 12 hours the virus should be pretty much gone, but if you have three or four then you’d be pretty sure.

    I heard today, definitely don’t wash a proper surgical mask, because that will degrade the fibre.

  154. Australian Rules has always been very fair and gentlemanly, Brian, since it originated in Victoria and seems to have been an adaptation of an indigenous game (played in the Western District?)

    In any case “The Tribunal” [highest court in the Melbourne system] now is able to use television images of every alleged “incident” {for goodness sake, a chap can’t help bumping into another chap in the fast and furious athletic contest that is real Australian football } to assess whether a so-called “infringement” was committed.

    Biff was a full back in the Murumbeena Thirds. He didn’t last. Someone told me he was “a bouncer ” but quite frankly I couldn’t imagine a bloke of his size ever “bouncing “.

  155. There was one new Covid 19 case in Queensland , which was troubling:

      She returned from India via Singapore two months ago and has now tested positive after developing some mild respiratory symptoms.

      At this stage, we’re not sure whether that is a persistent case, or whether she’s acquired it here.

      We think it most likely that she acquired the case in India, but we’ll now have to do a lot of work to work through that, some additional testing and also we’ll have to talk to her and look at contact-tracing.

      So all that work has started.

  156. I’d be grateful if Jumpy would name the five states he’s defaming. It would clarify his argument if we knew what percentage of the US population resides in them.

  157. Back in the 60s, Brian, one of my teachers pointed out that Kerala was one of the few places where a Communist govt had been elected (in a fair election) and re-elected.

    Recently I Googled them and discovered that the Party policies and actions when in govt have been very much focussed on welfare, health etc as you noted.

    No gulags, no enforced collectivisation, no arbitrary executions. And accepting an electoral loss and going peacefully into opposition. I wonder if a legacy of British Parliamentary liberalism influenced Kerala??

    The Communists there certainly haven’t followed the examples of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Ulbricht, Hoxha, Dimitrov, Castro or Pol Pot.


  158. Here’s some bad news for those wanting to emulate the Swedes. The sacrifice of Sweden’s vulnerable people wasn’t enough to stop the economy tanking.

  159. Zoot: Your link says that the economic damage to Sweden came because the Swedish economy depends on a lot of exports that have dropped because of the COVID-19 policies many of their external customers have used.

  160. Plus GDP is calculated using government spending as a component.
    The Swedes didn’t borrow and spend hundreds of billions to make the on paper GDP inflate.

    Our Annual debt interests will be in the region of $25-30 billion at this stage if Morrison keeps going the Keynesian model.

    All through history the young and fit sacrificed themselves to save the freedoms of their future generations.
    Today, almost worldwide, the boomers are throwing freedom out the window for their own selfish safety.

    Those that choose safety over freedom deserve neither.

  161. I don’t know if anyone remember the concept of measles parties.
    When if a kid in the neighbourhood had measles then the parents would send their kids over to catch it because it better to contract it as a child rather than post pubescent, or worst case elderly.
    Measles was way worse than China virus and a vaccine was a remote possibility.

  162. Those that choose safety over freedom deserve neither.

    What are you going to sacrifice? (Apart from your parents that is)

  163. And that’s the left narrative in a nutshell, completely shut the private sector or kill grandma while the welfare recipients and bureaucrats suffer nothing and virtue signal.

    Me, I’ll lose my modest home and business ( and the homes of my workmates) by Xmas probably.

    How about you parasite?

  164. Jumpy: “Our Annual debt interests will be in the region of $25-30 billion at this stage if Morrison keeps going the Keynesian model.” Only true if he is silly enough to borrow money instead of printing it. Printing money becomes dangerous when it is driving inflation. Deflation is the problem at the moment.
    BTW: Hope your business survives.

  165. Me, I’ll lose my modest home and business ( and the homes of my workmates) by Xmas probably.

    General Jubilation T Jumpy’s version of “Give me liberty or give me death”.

  166. I worked out the five Democratic states. They are from most to least New York, New Jersey, California, New Jersey, Michigan and Washington.

    The only Republican state in that league would be Florida, after Michigan.

    The big Republican one that’s missing is Texas., which can’t be too far away.

    References :

    All from Wikipedia.

    I suspect it has to do with air transport hubs and population density, and in the case of New Jersey, being next to New York doesn’t help.

  167. Ross Garnaut, Bob Gregory and Ken Henry point out that governments can borrow money at interests rates less than inflation. They reckon if it takes a generation to pay back, so be it.

    And all three say we should go big.

    Gregory, whose special expertise is in recessions, says we shouldn’t worry about balanced budgets and debt over the next 10 years, but it matters as to what you spend it on.

  168. John D, the question of state borders has blown up big. Dr Jeanette Young is saying maybe September, but she’d like to see community transmission cease in NSW and Victoria first. Could be waiting forever.

    Porf Paul Kelly says he never thought it necessary to close the borders, but they’ve left it to the states.

    Problem is that tourist operators and those who depend on tourism will mostly be broke if they miss the summer season.

    The way it’s shaping politically now, is that if the borders are closed come election time it will be a referendum on the issue, in which Labor will find it hard to win any regional seats.

    Germany is opening up and holding new cases steady at about 500 -1000. Sweden is tracking at nearly the same, which means adjusting for population about 6-8 times as many.

    Unless NSW and Victoria can clean up their act we may have to choose our poison.

  169. One of the problems, having heard a panel session with a lot of experts, is that you are most infectious when you first get it, but a test won’t show positive until about five days in.

    They should give us all fitbits. I heard somewhere else that the first sign is that your base heart rate goes up.

    From the panel, they said the main medical conditions that compromise you are diabetes and high blood pressure. Hay fever, even reduced lung capacity don’t show up as problems.

    Smoking, of course, is a problem.

    Not sure about being overweight as such, but diet and exercise will always improve immune system performance.

  170. Brian: Results of a poll of support for keeping the borders closed by Qld area. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-21/abc-regional-queensland-poll-shows-support-for-border-closure/12269968
    Only area supporting opening of the border was the Gold Coast. Hardly surprising given that the Gold Coast is more cosmopolitan than the rest of Qld and the border closing was stopping Gold Coast surfers getting to Northern Rivers beaches.
    Byron city lord mayor supported a border closure that kept Qld surfers out of their patch.
    I appreciate that locking down and restricting movement may reduce the number of cases but there are other, less damaging ways of reducing virus cases.
    BTW it is over 7hrs drive to get from the edge of Newcastle to the Qld border. Can’t imagine many people driving all the way from the NSW hotspots to Qld let alone Far Nth Qld and other places that wanted to keep the cockroaches out.. Still think the polls reflect Qld xenophobic tendencies rather than anything logical.

  171. I wonder what recourse the State Premiers have, that signed up to China’s belt and road deal, about their constituents being punished on trade.

    I’m guessing zilch.

  172. John, the link says “the results are not a scientific examination of public sentiment”.

    I agree. It’s what people said of ABC Facebook, a place I’ve never visited.

    And your opinion is your opinion. As such I respect it, but it’s not science either.

    If we continue to get low single figure cases in Qld (zero again yesterday) and NSW and Victoria continue much as they are, the question is raised, are we going to keep the border closed forever?

    At the same time, if the borders did open up, how many will show? As you say, it’s a long drive from Newcastle to the Qld border.

    Qantas are saying, if they have to keep appropriate distancing you only get about 21 into a jumbo jet. Not everyone is going be willing to travel under the conditions Qantas is offering.

    And many of us will be poorer with less discretionary spending capacity.

  173. The terms of the draft agreement for the leading State (Vic) and the owners of Belt and Road are interesting. Subscribers are enjoined to be respectful and positive.

    And it is littered with spelling and other errors.
    Perhaps written in a rush?
    Or written in Beijing?

  174. The total disregard for National Constitutions ( highest law of the land ) around the world is a huge worry and should concern all of us deeply.

  175. Jumpy: “The total disregard for National Constitutions ( highest law of the land ) around the world is a huge worry and should concern all of us deeply.” We can agree on that one.
    Australia is lucky to have the system we have with changes requiring a vote of the people and a high court to make it hard for governments to sneak past the constitution.

  176. The total disregard for National Constitutions ( highest law of the land ) around the world is a huge worry

    I understand there is some debate about the constitutional aspects of WA and Queensland keeping their borders closed but I confess I am unaware of constitutions ‘around the world’ being disregarded. The UK doesn’t actually have a constitution, and I’d be very surprised if Jumpy is referring to the disregard President Trump has for the US constitution (but I could be mistaken).
    So I ask (quite seriously) – which other nations are currently ignoring their constitutions? And if it is particularly wide spread what can be done to reintroduce the rule of law to these countries?

  177. John, I’m not saying our Constitution is perfect but it is what it is.
    But a very very expensive High Court action would most definitely find every State and Federal Government to have breached our Constitution on many fronts.

    What recourse do we the people have unless a billionaire stumps up ?

  178. Any such “case”, as I understand it, would need to specify in what way a govt had acted unconstitutionally, and the High Court would have to agree that the plaintiff had “standing”, or else it would refuse to hear the argument.

    For example, in the Tasmanian Dams case, the Fed Govt had used its signing of an international agreement, to veto the damming of the Franklin River. The Tassie Govt took the Hawke Govt to the HC. The HC agreed to hear the case, since the Tassie Govt argued it needed another hydroelectric scheme to proceed.

    Are you aware of specific breaches of a State (or the Federal ) constitution, Mr J? Or are you merely hazarding a guess that breaches have occurred?

    BTW, a bilionaire is not required. If the instance is clear enough and scandalous, any number of learned counsel would jump at the chance to strut on a national stage and secure a HC victory. pro bono {no, that doesn’t mean a fan of the wonderful U2 band, Mr J}.

    Just look at what the “Spycatcher case” did for the career of a very young Sydney solicitor by the name of Malcolm Turnbull.

  179. Some are getting aerated about the constitutionality of closing state borders.

    I can’t be bothered looking it up. I think the constitution specifies free trade across state borders. I’m not sure anyone is being prevented in that sense.

    Pauline H is calling for a ‘person of substance’ to bring a case. But as Palaszczuk says, by the time they do that the borders will be open.

    It is said that some of Qld’s provincial mayors want to keep them closed, but I’m not sure which ones.

  180. Yep it’s free trade.
    Which I take to mean that no Aussie State can impose tariffs or import duties on goods arriving from another State. None are; it would be unconstitutional.

    I mean it’s freedom, it’s Mabo, it’s the vibe, your Worship

    Bush Lawyers R Us
    Fees Paid in Sides of Lamb If You Insist

    (Leave a note with Syd round the back if we’re busy repairing fences or give Mavis a hoy over at the telephone exchange, you know, round behind the dairy where Five Mile Road used to have the Dray Hitching Posts.)

  181. Jumpy: “What recourse do we the people have unless a billionaire stumps up ?” One of the general problems with the Australian legal system is that most of it is expensive. This means that, when a rich legal bully threatens to take a much poorer you to court you have a choice of backing down or spending a lot of money on a case that you could not only lose but may have to pay your opponents costs as well. Ditto when you feel that you have been robbed by a legal bully.
    To some extent, legal aid can help but legal aid is poorly funded and my understanding was that legal aid could not be given to both sides of a dispute, a real problem for domestic disputes.
    One solution to the legal bully problem would be to say that the person or organization taking a matter to court would have to pay costs no matter what the outcome was. However, this creates more problems for someone with limited resources who feels that they have a case against a legal bully who might spend up even bigger if they know their costs will be paid.
    We already have petty court systems that deal with small claims and disputes. There is a case for a similar system that can deal with larger claims without the costs of going through the normal court system. It might look something like:
    1. Claimant goes to a judge of this system and puts case.
    2. Judge makes decision after considering what has been said and perhaps making further investigations but not including talking to the claimee.
    3. The judge will make a ruling at this point. In some cases it may be that the case is too complex for the judge to make a ruling and will have to go to the normal court system if the claimant wants to take it further.
    3. If the claimee doesn’t agree the claimee can either:
    a) Ask for a session with the judge with both claimant and claimee or their representatives present. (They should also have the option of talking to the judge alone before deciding what to do.)
    b) Negotiate an agreement which will be registered by the court.
    c) Go straight to the normal courts.
    In some cases it may be appropriate for the crown to pay the costs of going to the normal courts. (Ex: Case may set precedents.)

  182. The Small Claims Tribunal in the leading State has been quite useful, John.

    But it’s very limited in scope.
    Decades ago the limit was about $1400, I think.

    Long ago, some friends were in dispute with a house painter over a bill of about $2000. So they paid him $700 and took him to Small Claims, disputing the other $1300.

    No lawyers allowed.

    I feel confident that Senior Counsel J would approve.

  183. Another avenue for the little person has been “class actions”, John.

    But it seems to be an area of difficulty and is currently in turmoil as Josh tries to stop scsmming law firms from gouging class action claimants.

    Funny that.
    I thought gouging was legal modus operandi .

    Ll B, Grad. Dip. Gouge,

    Formerly Senior Partner at Sue, Grabbit & Runne
    (apologies to “Private Eye”)

  184. Mr A, up here your friends would first go to the QBCC for a judgment.
    If your friends win, the trader fixes the problems or their license gets extinguished
    If the trader wins, your friends can still refuse to pay and it’s lawyers time at 6 minute increments.
    Stacked a bit toward the customer but that’s fair enough IMHO.

    In any event, that doesn’t go to my question. Who does the State of Victoria call because China breached the agreement?

  185. Jumpy: “In any event, that doesn’t go to my question. Who does the State of Victoria call because China breached the agreement?”
    Agreements between countries and states often include penalty clauses as well as specifying what countries laws apply and which courts will be used. (My hazy recollection is that a draft Kogan Creek (Qld) power station sub-contract I read specified that disputes would be resolved in Switzerland using Swiss contract law.)

  186. Jumpy, please remind me, how did China breach an agreement with the State of Victoria?

    I had a look upthread, but I must be a bit thick, because I couldn’t identify anything specific.

  187. John, I think legal aid may have been introduced by the Whitlam government in the 1970s. The fact that it has been downgraded ever since suggests that governments do not really care whether the poor can be protected from the rich.

  188. The low funding for legal aid may be one factor in (what seems to be) a wider use of class actions. Legal aid funding needs to increase, Brian.

    Mr J, I’m sure you’re correct.n(The example I mentioned was from the late 1970s.)

    I believe the conditions under which builders and contractors work now would in most instances avoid Small Claims. For example in Victoria an owner can call the builder to rectify defects during the first five years of occupancy.

    And for general small maintenance and repair jobs, there are bodies governing plumbers, electricians and so on.

    I imagine most States are similar – or better – for the customer. Consumer protection law is stronger now than it was.

    Still, that still leaves a heap of other legal areas where “the little person” can be up against it…

  189. Brian, barley is a significant crop in Victoria..
    Is that 80% tariff not a breach of the agreement?

  190. Mr J

    I don’t know any barley farmers, but saw a comment yesterday
    apparently from a barley grower.

    It went like this: we have just planted our next crop. Because of the drought, our storages are empty. We will fill the storages and wait for another opportunity to sell our barley. It keeps well. We can wait for a good price.

    No panic, no worry. Clearly confident because of recent rains.

    The tariff-setters may, in this case, damage themselves more than they hurt Aussie farmers.


    On the other hand, you can’t blame the Chinese Govt if it wants the nation to be more self-reliant. Australia may need to think similarly.

  191. Clive Palmer threatens High Court challenge to WA coronavirus border closure after being denied entry. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-22/clive-palmer-threatens-high-court-challenge-wa-border-closure/12276368
    Also: Coronavirus border wars have NSW, WA, Queensland premiers playing firmly to their home crowds https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-21/wa-nsw-premiers-coronavirus-border-fight-about-health-politics/12271290 which among other things says that:
    “Gladys Berejiklian says: “I’m sure those premiers are getting more popular in their states for keeping their borders closed,”
    AND: “Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk faces an election in just over five months, which Peter Kennedy, Adjunct Professor of politics at Notre Dame University, said was a key factor in her Government’s stance.
    I think the Labor Government in Queensland does have a close eye on that poll, understandably, and they would be playing to what they believe to be the best interests of Queenslanders and what also would be electorally popular,” he said.
    AND: “WA’s border closure — creating what Premier Mark McGowan dubbed “an island within an island” — has not dramatically hurt the state’s all-important resources industry.
    Interstate fly-in, fly-out workers have been able to enter the state because the resources industry was deemed an essential service by the WA Government.
    So borders aren’t as big an economic issue for WA as they are for NSW.”
    I would have expected that WA and Qld governments would have been concerned by damage to their tourist industry. However, a Qld government that supports the coal industry despite the damage done to the Barrier Reef hardly seems to be pro tourism.

  192. Is Clive P the “billionaire” you’ve been dreaming of, Jumpy?

    From where I sit, he’s no more a billionaire than Mr Trump is.

    (And both have big problems with China, not that it’s of any relevance on a virus thread. Official Chinese spokesqueakers have suggested the novel virus originated in the US.)

    Note to China: there is a virus that kills novels : we call it “Hollywood”.

  193. John D, honestly I think Annastacia Palaszczuk is currently making the decision on health grounds. If you hear Jeanette Young speaking, she speaks as though it is her call. At present, I think it is. May not stay that way.

    Peter Kennedy, Adjunct Professor of politics at Notre Dame University, is in Perth. Well away from the action to be commenting on Qld politics.

    Dr Young, with health minister Steven Miles and QHealth, has been terrific in beating the virus. I’d rather the pollies took broader advice during the opening up phase.

  194. On barley, Jumpy, this site on AgriFutures shows that yes indeed it is grown everywhere in Oz, bar the tropics.

    I don’t want to spend too much time on this topic here, but China’s case is very lightweight, cobbled together and basically ridiculous, which should tell us that they are doing it because they can under WTO rules, and it’s not about barley.

  195. Should Australian states ditch coronavirus border restrictions? Even medical experts can’t agree on that. See: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-23/coronavirus-how-is-there-different-health-advice-border-closures/12276062
    “Two of the doctors advising the Australian Government on its coronavirus response have said they cannot see the medical reasons for some states keeping their borders closed.
    Yet these very states and territories — the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia — insist they are staying shut because of medical advice.
    Why are there such different opinions?”
    On a related topic I can’t see why Queensland is preventing Queenslanders who live more than about 200km from the coast driving to the coast. Is it just another symptom of the premier’s tin ear when it comes to the regions?

  196. John, luckily regional Queenslanders have a tin ear toward government and travel anyway.

    All of the mining town and rural folk have elderly relatives on the coast as an excuse to come and do their shopping.

    All the ones i know just ignore the travel restrictions and the coppers ignore them because DIDO was never restricted.

    That and covid hasn’t killed a single person up here.

  197. Jumpy: “Luckily regional Queenslanders have a tin ear toward government and travel anyway.” As has been and always shall be for most of regional Australia – At least if you are not Aboriginal.

  198. Jumpy, the people in Burnie in NW Tasmania weren’t so lucky. It took only one person initially to start the infection. From memory over 200 were infected, several died. Three hospitals were closed and the Army medicos had to come in to help.

      Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the committee had decided “not to have a decision on [state] borders”.

      “As has been the case with much of the national advice, specific issues related to states are to be done at that state level,” he said earlier this week.

    Kelly says the risk is low. I’d point out that he isn’t the one who is dealing with the issues directly. In the case of the Rockhampton incident, about a plane load of people had to be flown up there to deal with the testing, contacting etc.

    I’ve heard Kelly talk about it. He’s quite relaxed about the issue, it’s just that he has a different opinion. That’s not unknown in medical circles.

    John, Palaszczuk does quite a lot for the regions, and only gets abuse in return. I’ll answer more fully later. Trying to finish a post.

  199. Brian

    Right near the start of this, I heard Dr Jeanette Young speak at a press conference with your Premier. They relayed it on ABC News Radio (good for any listener who wants to hear directly, without journalistic filtering).

    I was impressed by both, and thought Dr Young was clear and direct. (It was when a beautician had returned from Iran, had seen about 30 customers; then felt ill, went home and contacted health authorities. Well done, Ms. But most of her clients had paid cash, so they couldn’t use credit card numbers to track down the (potentially) infected.

    They named the salon, appealed to customers to come forward.

    As I said, very swift and clear.

    Good on them.

    (BTW what an amazing thing, that a Victorian could eavesdrop on the attempt to sort out a Qld public health matter.)

  200. I’d say it’s been informed and realistic Queenslander plus overseas immigration stoppage that lessened the China virus deaths in Queensland.

    I realise there’ll be some that romance Palacechook saved 29,994 lives AND SloMo cost 101 lives at the same time.

  201. Ambi, I remember the beautician from Iran case. At the time Morrison and company were focussing on China and neglecting the rest of the world. By an by they woke up.

    Ambi, I could get Victorian radio on my phone if I tried hard, I think. On Nightlife people ring up from all around the world at times.

    Palaszczuk said tonight that “we” look all around the world to see places that have opened too early and what happens. She said she would always be guided by Dr Young.

    I think they are in a scrum. No distancing between them.

  202. John, tracking back to Labor and the regions, I try to keep up with Qld Govt media release site. The Govt dopes lots for the regions you don’t hear about.

    Currently a grant to help build a new sheep feedlot in the Southern Downs supporting close to 150 regional jobs. That was one of 14 businesses in Queensland to receive a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant of up to $250,000 to fund the expansion of their business.

    That was Round 2. Round 3 comes later this year. We also read that there is The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administer the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

    That entity was started in the 1980s but was revamped by the Labor Govt in 2017.

    In the current releases there was Infrastructure bonanza to create hundreds of new jobs in regional Queensland:

      Tens of millions worth of infrastructure investment will fuel the economic recovery of regional and remote Queensland, with 48 new council projects backed by the Palaszczuk Government’s $365 million Building our Regions (BoR) program.

      The state is partnering with 39 local councils to deliver the projects through BoR Round 5, with hundreds of new jobs set to be created.

    There was also solar panels for 580 schools, a bill for a large-scale wind farm proposed for the Wide Bay Burnett region (a bill needed because it’s in state forests), and another 11 items there on the one page specifically of interest to the regions.

    But I’m sure you are bored already!

  203. WA border closures have made life alot harder for interstate FIFO workers. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-26/fifo-workers-keep-australian-mineral-exports-flowing/12283784

    Key points:
    Around 6,000 FIFO mine workers normally fly in from out of state, but about half of those are staying in WA due to the border closure
    FIFO workers undergo health screening at the airport, with some companies even testing all workers heading on site
    Flights are less than half full to ensure social distancing
    As an example of what this can mean:
    “Ms James is a BHP fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) worker and is used to travelling across the country for work on a regular basis.
    But when West Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced he would be closing the state border back in March, she had just 24 hours to decide whether she would relocate to Perth, more than 4,000 kilometres away from her family in Cairns, for an indefinite period of time.
    “I got a call from my manager who put a number of scenarios to me, to either relocate my whole family, just myself or work from home,” she told The Business.
    “After discussing with my family, we made the decision for me to come over to Western Australia and my family would stay in Queensland.”
    The superintendent of people and logistics at a mine camp in the Pilbara has not left Western Australia since late March, but technology is helping her remain close to her family.”
    Me I have never worked regular FIFO to mining/construction camps but I have had periods where I have been away for up to a month. All I can say is I didn’t like it and my wife liked it even less. Even within a month my wife had become less real.
    Just another reason why i don’t like the political game I see Qld and WA playing.

  204. But “ordinary FIFO” and “ordinary shift work” (pre-COVID, before State border closures) many of which have existed for a long time, also keep partners apart. Perhaps for much shorter periods (typically a week at a stretch?) but affecting very much larger numbers of workers.

    How are they and their partners and children affected??

    I don’t know.
    Does it affect health or rates of divorce?

  205. Does it affect health or rates of divorce?

    The short answer is yes. I was also told suicide rate is higher than in the general population.

  206. Ambi: “But “ordinary FIFO” and “ordinary shift work” (pre-COVID, before State border closures) many of which have existed for a long time, also keep partners apart. ”
    Rosters vary enormously. One group I worked with over a long time had DIDO (D=drive) 4 on 4 off working 12 hr shifts. people who were lucky enough to be on this roster stayed for yonks. The only thing I had against this roster was that I was never on it.
    Another place I helped commission had 3 weeks on one week off working 12 hr shifts. The operators I was working with were writing job applications before the commissioning had completed. The operators thought it was a real family killer.
    Our kids grew up and finished high school in isolated mining towns. By and large my family liked living in these towns. However, they rarely suit couples where both partners wanted to pursue a career. Companies prefer FIFO too because FIFO camps cost a lot less than building and running a mining town. In addition FIFO has a reputation for avoiding a lot of IR problems. The workers spend their rostered time off somewhere else instead of in the mining town plotting the war against the company.

  207. Ambi, what I’ve heard is that FIFO people detach from the community they live in. Their families have to set up to manage without them, so they are like visitors or supernumeraries when at home.

    They also have trouble in participating in regular community organisations and events.

    Also it’s bugger of a life. 12 hours on and 12 hours off is a tough gig.

  208. John, you keep seeing political games about the borders.

    I see concern about health.

    Palaszczuk met with business and pollies at the Gold Coast today. The mayor said he supported Palaszczuk 100 per cent. Who would have thought five weeks ago that we would be here with only 12 active cases, he said.

    Qld has done better than NZ with the same population. I think it is tantalising to think that we might be able to exterminate the rotten thing.

    Hope we do, because I sure don’t like what I see around the traps in how people are acting.

  209. Thanks zoot, John and Brian.

    ….what I’ve heard is that FIFO people detach from the community they live in. Their families have to set up to manage without them, so they are like visitors or supernumeraries when at home.

    That sounds very much like what happens to the families of Federal politicians (unless they’re able to ‘up sticks’ and migrate to Canberra).

  210. The death of a 30 year-old man Nathan Turner in Blackwater has everyone perplexed. Blackwater (pop 4,700) is a mining town 190 km west of Rockhampton.

    He’s by far the youngest person who has died from the virus in Oz, but was said to have had various medical complaints. Has had respiratory complaints since early May but didn’t get himself tested.

    The Rockhampton nurse who was infected had been to Blackwater, but says she didn’t spend time with anyone and didn’t see him.

    Turner hadn’t been outside Blackwater since February.

    His partner has tested negative.

    It looks as though it is going to be very hard to eliminate the virus completely. The New Scientist pointed out that measles still pops up although there is a vaccine.

    This would put a big question on whether it is sensible for states to keep borders closed and tourism locked down when you know you have the capacity to cope with outbreaks.

  211. Ambi: ““….what I’ve heard is that FIFO people detach from the community they live in. Their families have to set up to manage without them, so they are like visitors or supernumeraries when at home.”
    In my experience, it is a bit more complex that that and depends a lot on the family, roster etc.
    1. I found that FIFO camps did have a sense of community, particularly for small camps. Unlike many city jobs the workers don’t scuttle home after work. Instead they go to the mess or the camp bar and talk with each other.
    2. In the larger camps that serve a number of sites, people like me enjoyed catching up with people they had worked with before at other sites.
    3. Quite a number of men in the camps I thought of as refugees from women. Past relations with women were often disastrous or they had been social cripples with women most of their lives.
    4. Once read a sociology study that said that jobs where the man was away for 3 months per year had the worst effect on marriages. My take was that families where the husband was away for longer realized they had a problem and worked out how to live with it. A project manager friend of mind said that he and his wife had worked out that he would be treated as a visitor for short breaks at home and his wife would keep on running everything. When he was doing a job that was close enough for him to live at home the family would function like a normal family. Seemed to work for them.
    5. Construction work can be very satisfying because something tangible had been created. I liked to be able to talk about places that I had helped design and commission.
    These days, the other big advantage of FIFO is that it allows husbands and wives to pursue separate careers in different
    places. My wife liked living in mining downs and found plenty of things to do, some of which paid money and help her prepare for jobs in the big city. However, for other women it was hell on earth.
    Someone said to us when we moved to our first mining town that living in the town strengthened good marriages and weakened poor ones. A real and tragic problem was the couples that moved to an isolated mining town to “save their marriage.” Didn’t always work.
    BTW my wife never liked me working away from home.

  212. Thanks John.
    That’s very informative.
    Your initial quote wasn’t from me, but no matter.

    Juggling jobs and places of work can be difficult; your wife sounds more flexible, accommodating and simply “a good egg” the more you relate. Lucky you, John.

    On behalf of the leading State, may I offer an apology for the appalling behaviour of some of our citizens in the way they treated your wife? I mean, really. We granted Ladies the vote. Our Vice Regal Consort frequently spoke at Vice Regal Garden Parties about the importance of Not Looking Down on those whose High Drays were of Lesser Quality. And yet some ill-mannered folk – a minority I assure you – persisted….. The Chief Justice sent some little men round to Hawthorn, but the offenders would never admit to their misdeeds.

  213. Ambi: My wife found Aboriginal people, their language and customs fascinating. Ditto Melbourne people with their strange idea of educational superiority and the school you went to. The main problem with our kids was how far Vic education was behind NT education. My middle son was quite vociferous on the subject. His primary school decided to run special classes to give him something to stretch his wee little mind.
    My wife wasn’t impressed when Vic education said she wasn’t properly qualified because trainee teachers in Vic spent a week more practicing in schools than they did in NSW. Years of teaching in NSW and top results at University just didn’t count.
    After living in what my elder son described as “that hell hole” we went back to a mining town that I think my kids would have winged about if they had moved there from the NT instead of coming from the hell hole.
    (Me I had an interesting job, loved canoeing on the Yarra, sailing on Pt Phillip Bay and bushwalking in the hills. I could have settled in and got used to the natives if we had stayed longer. I am one of these people who tends to like being where he is. But having said this working on a tropical Island where the fishing is incredible had its attractions for both me and the family.)

  214. That’s a good article, John. Several comments.

    I don’t think it was ‘mistrust of China’ as such that saved Taiwan. Mistrust of China is a given.

    Obviously this gave them a huge advantage:

      The speed with which authorities reacted to the outbreak may also in some part be a result of officials’ reliance on science and experience with previous crises.

      For example, Chen Chien-jen, who was Taiwan’s health minister during the 2002-2003 SARS crisis, and was the island’s vice-president during the early stages of the pandemic.

      He left office this month when Ms Tsai was sworn in for her second term.

    They had a pre-prepared plan for a new virus. In that they were much better prepared than China.

    Finally, the article confirms that there was masses of traffic between Taiwan and mainland China. So when they got wind of a new virus they were able to send people over to take a look. They would have had a better chance of finding out what was going on through informal contacts on the ground than health officials from Beijing going through the channels.

  215. John

    I understand your wife’s frustration with petty officialdom in the Vic Educatiob Dept.

    Not sure it’s improved much.
    About ten years ago, with great hullabaloo an online learning platform was designed, tested; teachers were trained; best thing since sliced bread! On the first day of the (drum roll) full implementation it crashed.

    Not like the recent Federal Census where they could just stretch it out over some extra days.

    Crashed and collapsed. Not revivable. Not fit for purpose. No tinkering possible. It was dead. It was an ex-learning platform. It had departed to join the Choir Eternal.

    Turned out there had been some nifty fraud, nepotism and skulduggery. It’s taken years fir prosecutions. This was in the State Dept.

    Not impressive at all.

    And that snobbery about private school education persists; the sign of our provincialism and insecurity. Old money. Western District squattocracy. Toorak mansions.

    Yet the voters returnef the Andrews ALP Govt with a pat on the back, quite recently. Swings to Labor in some of the wealthier districts.

    God Bless Queen Victoria.

  216. Not sure what Victoria has to do with Taiwan, Brian.

    Oh yes: Belt and Road initiative.
    Govt of PRC.
    Chinese investment.
    Chinese coronavirus.
    Taiwan able to garner info informally, direct from China.

    BTW, if Hong Kong becomes subjugated, that will be one fewer vantage point for non-Chinese to view, and attempt to fathom, events in China.

  217. Rodney Tiffen has summarised the comparative outcomes of many of the OECD and Asian countries from a WHO report based on 20 May information in What worked to minimise Covid-19 deaths, and why?

    I’m not sure that Covid 19 deaths free of deaths from other courses is the right metric, but he’s right, there is a leading bunch and a lagging bunch with a world of difference.

    The disparity is humungous.

    I’m surprised that the US is shown as doing more tests per million than Germany, and am wondering what the definition of a test is.

    His account of what happened in China in January is not the same as the Der Spiegel account which I prefer. However, his notion that the importance of leadership and the speed of response matter is fair enough.

  218. Brian: I find Inside Story produces some good stuff.
    If I was to nominate what counts:
    Professional plan.
    Some action on key plan items.
    Rapid response as soon as problem detected.
    Do things that can be implemented without shortage of things like masks. Ex: Social distance rules and lockdowns.
    Prepare for changes that will reduce economic damage. (Acting a number of strategies in parallel, identifying priorities.

  219. Testing and other protocol improvements may help international tourism by allowing test passers to cross borders without 14 days isolation..

  220. John, that’s exactly what this is about.

    It means that both countries are clean enough that they don’t require anyone to quarantine, and each country trusts the health system in the other countries to be doing the appropriate testing, tracing etc.

    We should have China and Taiwan at the top of the list. Vietnam also.

  221. Brian: “Testing and other protocol improvements may help international tourism by allowing test passers to cross borders without 14 days isolation..”

    Not exactly; I was thinking of protocols that may allow tourists from countries that have not got things under control. (We already have a 14 day isolation protocol but reliable tests may be much faster.

  222. Far North Queensland tourism operators ‘ecstatic’ but Cape York angry over travel bubble snub https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-01/cape-york-left-out-of-queensland-travel-bubble/12307436
    Cook Shire, which covers most of Cape York, is among the areas subject to restrictions despite not being an Indigenous community
    Tourism operators in the Cairns region are “ecstatic” about the easing of restrictions
    From today, most Queenslanders can travel and stay in places overnight as part of next stage of restrictions easing.
    But Cape York — an area the same size as Victoria — remains in lockdown, largely due to the Indigenous communities within the region.
    Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott said he was disappointed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would not be easing restrictions in his vast electorate at the same time as the rest of Queensland.
    “Nice to know that Cape York is not part of Queensland,” Mr Scott said.
    “I think the decision by the Premier announcing free movement throughout Queensland was very poorly done.
    “We’re going to get absolutely belted with people saying, I heard the Premier said we can come in, yet we are still under Federal Government biosecurity restrictions.”
    Mr Scott said 30,000 people live in Cape York and many did not live in Indigenous communities.
    “We have been lobbying for a long time for kids to be able to go to boarding school and be able to come home, for people to be able to come up for compassionate purposes to see their dying parents,” he said.
    “Remote cattle property owners want to be able to come into the region to do some fire burning mitigation.”

  223. “””Not exactly; I was thinking of protocols that may allow tourists from countries that have not got things under control. (We already have a 14 day isolation protocol but reliable tests may be much faster.“””

    Oh, you mean an individual approach rather than blanket approach.

    Welcome to Damascus !

  224. Jumpy: Basic aim is to safely allow tourists into Aus without chewing up most of their visit in isolation.
    Not sure what Damascus has to do with it.

  225. I’m no expert and I don’t know how many different tests there are but my daughter who practices in Queensland says the tests she uses are not the most reliable.
    A negative result is always followed up with another test a couple of days later. If memory serves, around one third of the tests are false negatives (and I guess false positives?)

  226. So Nathan Turner did not have Covid 19. That solves the conundrum of how he got it. He didn’t!

    Zoot, I heard Norman Swan the other day. I think he said the standard test showed a false negative about a third of the time. In other words it fails to pick up the virus.

    He said it depended on how long after infection the test was done. If you leave it a while (around 12 days or so) I think it only misses one in eight.

    He didn’t talk about false positives that day, but I guess that happens too.

  227. Albeit my knowledge is meagre and my Jumpology deficient, but I surmise that Mr J was writing of The Road to Damascus upon which, if the testaments can be trusted, a famous male person of Middle Eastern appearance had an amazing change of heart and attitudes.

    Possibly the old-fashioned phrase “Damascene conversion” may be relevant?

  228. John, in the link about Cape York below the bit you quote with Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott directing sarcastic criticism at Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, there is a headline Premier says Cape bound by federal laws

    What was she to do? Ignore the law?

    Part of the problem was that the announcement was made on the Sunday for opening on the next day, ahead of the Phase 2 schedule which would have seen opening on June 12. Presumably the matter will be sorted by then.

    Some restaurants are not opening before 12 June, because its not just a matter of throwing open the doors. I really don’t know why such short notice was given in this case.

  229. The news about Nathan Turner came out via his partner’s Facebook, which led to the local LNP member frothing at the mouth, demanding an apology from premier Palaszczuk. She duly did so at 9am this morning.

    Some people should grow up.

  230. Latest is that Dr Jeanette Young says we probably will never know whether Turner had the virus. Apparently the virus degrades after death. False positives, we are told, are rare.

    Health minister Miles says he would do the same again. When someone tests positive you need to jump on it.

  231. Thanks Brian. That would explain why number one daughter has to double check negative screens but not positives.

  232. How Ventilation controls can affect the spread of corona virus https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/commercial/how-ventilation-controls-can-affect-the-spread-of-covid-19/?ct=t%282+June+2020_COPY_01%29&mc_cid=3606bff873&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D
    “Both papers conclude that the use of ventilation controls would be an “additional important measure globally to reduce the likelihood of transmission and thereby protect healthcare workers, patients and the general public”.

    “Existing evidence is sufficiently strong to warrant engineering controls targeting airborne transmission as part of an overall strategy to limit infection risk indoors,” 35 authors of one of the papers conclude.
    Despite this evidence, says one of the authors Dr. Morawska, “no countries or authorities consider airborne spread of COVID-19 in their regulations to prevent infections transmission indoors.
    “It is therefore extremely important,” she insists, “that national authorities acknowledge the reality that the virus spreads through air, and recommend that adequate control measures be implemented to prevent further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in particular removal of the virus-laden droplets from indoor air by ventilation.”
    Worth a read.

  233. No new Covid cases in Qld again and active cases now down to 3.

    There is a suggestion now that Qld could open to air travel from SA, WA and NZ.

  234. John, I’ve been hearing for a while that airborne spread of fine particles has been underestimated as a means of transmission.

  235. Brian: “John, I’ve been hearing for a while that airborne spread of fine particles has been underestimated as a means of transmission.”
    What some people aren’t realizing that even cloth covering of nose and mouth will significantly reduce the number of virus getting into the air from an infected person even though it is not so effective at protecting an uninfected person from viruses infected air. (High quality masks fitted properly can be effective protection.)
    Australian governments seem to think that social distancing is the holy grail even though most of the economic damage has come from social distancing rules.

  236. People may have missed the case of a young Victorian man testing positive to the virus on a farm near Bundaberg.

    While infectious he flew from Melbourne to Brisbane, where he stayed with relatives and saw about 15 friends and relatives.

    He then flew to Bundaberg, was taken to a fruit farm and worked a shift before testing positive to Covid 19.

    250 tests have now been done, with the first 57 coming back negative.

    On the plane he sat next to a doctor, who now needs to isolate. I’m told he saw 50 patients.

    All of which makes it a bit harder to open the Qld borders, because there are only three active cases left.

    We’ll see in one or two weeks whether there is a spike from Black Lives Matter gatherings.

  237. WHO have changed their advice on face masks, according to Norman Swan this morning. He said people over 60 should wear a ‘medical’ mask, which is higher grade than an ordinary fabric mask.

    He said that a study conducted after a carnival in Germany (it would have been after they started to open up, and long enough ago to show resulting infections) indicated an infection rate spike 2.5 times higher than in the rest of the population.

    I’ve often heard that Germany suffered an overall spike from opening up too early. This has never shown up on the Worldometer site where new cases have steadily trended down.

    In the US it is probably the next week or so that will show if there is a pattern there from the protests. I heard the other day that daily cases were rising in 15 states, but they appear to be falling in the most populous states, so it may be hard to discern a change.

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