Covid-15

Each day I review the news on what I take to be a reputable Australian news site. Here are some points of interest from said news over the last two days. Australia has had a travel ban in place since 1st February 2020 for people travelling from China. Today’s date is the 14th of March. However, there is a loophole in the travel ban. Chinese travellers can enter Australia by travelling to a third country – Thailand for example – and self-isolating for two weeks.

Chinese students in Australia represent the largest proportion of International students with the number of Chinese students in Australia in 2019 estimated to be around 110,000. Since mid-February, 2020, 31,000 Chinese students have entered Australia by using the loophole option. This equates to around 1000 Chinese students arriving each day. There are those who might conjecture that the entry of 30,000 students from the country where the virus originated is a cause for concern but let’s not pursue that line of thought.

The figure of 30,000 students entering Australia means that just under one third of the expected number of Chinese students have in fact entered the country. Ultimately this figure will bare upon the actual amount of income that Australian Universities lose in Trimester 1 from the drop in international student enrolments resulting from Covid-19. There are other interesting facts about students attempting to side stepping the travel ban. One student has referred to the betrayal of International students by Australia.

Talk of the “betrayal” of International students by Australia is complete and utter nonsense. I know this because I work for a University that is dedicating all available resources to supporting Chinese students impacted by the travel ban including ensuring that said students are able to continue with their studies online. Secondly, some Australian Universities are actively helping international students to get around the travel ban by offering students grants, $7,500 in the case of one university, to help them to to stay in a third country ahead of travelling to Australia.

It seems to me that a sum of $7,500 would be more than sufficient to support a Chinese student transiting through an Asian country ahead of coming to Australia. However, one disgruntled Chinese student has complained that it cost her $20,000 to travel to Thailand for a two week stay before coming to Australia. I have recently returned from a trip to Thailand. The return air fare from Australia cost me $950.00. The apartment at my hotel cost me $120.00 per night so if I had stayed for 14 nights the total would have been $1680.

It is, therefore, a little difficult to fathom how said student managed to spend $20,000 travelling to Australia but it seems that she was travelling with her mother and that she may have booked around 7 tickets to ensure her travel to Australia. Five of these tickets were in economy class and two were in first class. I can conceive of two explanations for booking so many tickets. First, flights were being cancelled and the student wanted to cover her bases by booking multiple flights. Alternatively, the student behaved completely irrationally and booked every flight that she could find.

I’ve mentioned on previous occasions the absurdity of people in Australia panic buying toilet paper such that the supermarket shelves have been empty for almost a week. Not surprisingly, this situation has led to a fight in a supermarket as a result of one woman having a trolley filled with toilet paper and another woman not being able to secure a single packet. Both women are to be charged as a result of the fight. I have always had a dismal view of humanity and incidents such as these do nothing to convince me that I should alter my opinion with respect to the stupidity of the masses.

One can only survive for around 4 days without water before the lack of water does damage to one’s internal organs. One can survive for around 28 days without food. The most sensible course of action would, therefore, be to stock up on food and water. Toilet paper should figure precisely nowhere on a shopping list of essential items. There is another point with respect to use of toilet paper. In Ancient Rome sponges were used for self-cleansing. In the Indian subcontinent cleansing was achieved by using the left hand and water, with thorough hand washing occurring after the event. Toilet paper, far from being an indispensable commodity, really is optional at this time.

In Australia, there is a report of someone who went shopping in their local supermarket despite having been confirmed with the Covid-19 virus. I find this level of selfishness and stupidity to be almost unfathomable. I guess that one might argue that said person had no choice but to go shopping – perhaps they lived alone and had run out of food – but the fact is that Australian supermarkets are still making home deliveries, albeit it at a cost. Then there is the stupidity of actually choosing to attend events where there will be mass gatherings of people. For example, going night clubbing only to find that a student at the club had the Covid 19 virus.

Articles looking at Covid-19 from a mental well being perspective, are beginning to appear, particularly in terms of people having to be isolated for a period of time. I have no concerns in this respect. Rather the converse is true. My contact with the outside world has always been minimal including rarely going to my place of work. Isolation will mean that I will be able to work from home with impunity. Furthermore, I am anticipating that all non essential meetings will be cancelled leaving in place only those meetings that are deemed to be crucial. Bonus. I will have to attend a lot less meetings.

First Published March 14th, 2020

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