Australia Continues to Overreact to the Non-event That is Covid-19
Today there was a Covid-19 article from “The Guardian” that can only be described as cloying in the extreme. Apparently Melbourne wakes up every day waiting for the Covid-19 news and it’s “worse this time”. And then there is the loss that we are all feeling because Melbourne winters are “meant to be shared” and we were just “not prepared for this”. How we are all suffering. We cannot go to our favourite bars and restaurants. We meet virtually with family and there are grandparents that we will never see again. We have nothing in reserve to deal with this new round of the virus. Please, just get over yourself. Nine out of ten people with Covid-19 will experience only mild symptoms. Sure, 1% of people will end up in a serious or critical condition but only a fraction of those people will die from the virus.
In fact, the death rate is so low in Australia that the news can report on individual deaths. To give just one example, a man over 90 years of age died from Covid-19 in a rest home in some obscure part of Australia. The unspoken truth is that residents in aged care facilities are at risk from dying from seasonal influenza during every influenza season. We don’t report that 3 people in an aged care facility have just succumbed to influenza. Nor do we report the number of influenza cases across Australia. And, what about deaths from pneumonia or from one of the hundreds of other viruses that circulate every year. Note this fact, “Worldwide, 16 million people die from infectious disease every year, and many of these deaths are preventable. You must surely have got my point by now. The severity of the Covid-19 pandemic has been massively over-stated.
A report from “The Conversation” is almost as irksome as the report from “The Guardian”. The headline reads, “Australia holds its breath as Victoria struggles with the virus”. The report also makes use of the language of war in describing Australia’s “fight” against the virus. I have been meaning to comment on the use of warlike language for quite some time because my sense is that this language is being used for a particular purpose. One reason could be the “rally around the flag effect” which on one reading means that being in a fight against the virus appeals to people’s sense of patriotism. This can lead to a short-term increase in a leader’s popularity. I would also say that the aim of the language of war is to quell dissent. For example, those who question the severity of Covid-19 are seen to be unpatriotic and are vilified as conspiracy theorists, a phenomenon that I have reported on in one of my previous posts. Basically, if you don’t tow the “Australian line” then you are seen to be un-Australian.
The Elderly Are Dying and That’s the Government’s Fault
Another aspect of the use of warlike language is the personification of the virus. For example, “The Conversation” article reports that, “we are seeing the virus wield its scythe against the frail and elderly”. The intent here is to conjure up ghoulish images of the Grim Reaper collecting the souls of those who have died. Let’s put the Grim Reaper aside. From an objective perspective COVID-19 cases have now been recorded in 87 aged-care facilities in Australia, with 47 deaths in these facilities. Australia has recorded 189 deaths as of today which means that 24% of all deaths have occurred in aged care facilities. I am surely not the only person who thinks that there has been a failure in Australia to protect the most vulnerable members of society. And I am surely not the only person to think that there is a question of whether these were deaths from Covid-19 or with Covid-19. After all, coroners have to make a judgement call on cause of death.
To put the age care figures into perspective, according to a 2018 Government report, most older people (95.3%) were living in households, with 4.6% (181,200 people) living in cared-accommodation. This is a pretty blunt figure and more nuanced government data is available on admission into aged care services for period 2018-2019. In the period 2018-2019 almost 221,200 people entered aged care services. More than two-thirds of these were an admission into residential care—this was split between permanent (almost 70,000) and respite care (over 83,500). Almost 60,800 people were admitted to permanent residential aged care for the first time in 2018–19. I’m going to stop here because you can download the fact sheet if you want to look more closely at the data.
Let’s assume that in 2020 we also had 221,000 people entering into aged care services. Let’s also assume that 60,800 people entered permanent residential age care for the first time. These people would have joined those already in residential aged care but I’m going to take the figure of 60,800 people entering aged care. There have been 47 deaths in aged care facilities from Covid-19. Working off the 60,800 figure – which will be far lower than the real figure for permanent aged care residents – 0.077% of permanent aged care residents have died from Covid-19. Personally, I find this fact utterly astonishing. Just 0.077% of all residents in aged care have died from Covid-19. I would cite this fact as further evidence that there is no Covid-19 pandemic in Australia. Let’s face it, not even the most vulnerable are succumbing to Covid-19 on anything like a large scale.
This Silliness of People Claiming that Forced Mask Wearing is Violating Their Personal Liberties
The wearing of masks in public is now mandatory across the state of Victoria. However, as reported by The Conversation there are people who are upset about this fact because they believe that their personal liberties are being violated. The argument is a simple one. The power of the state is being used to make people do what they would not normally do. The idea is underpinned by the premise of freedom as “non-interference”. More interference in the choices that we make means that we are less free. The article makes the very cogent point that there are far more worrying infringements on our personal freedoms. For example, unidentifiable security forces firing tear gas and other non-lethal ammunitions at peaceful protesters.
The other main point that the article makes is that the concept of freedom as non-interference is too simplistic. We are not allowed to wander around naked in public spaces but no one – well no one sane at least – feels that their personal liberties are being infringed by this “restriction” A more complex definition of freedom entails that you are free when you are protected from arbitrary interference by the government. Conditions that prevent arbitrary interference include laws being publicly known, impartially enforced and contestable in a court of law. The final condition is that there must be democratic accountability. An example of such accountability would be a person being able to contest what they perceived to be an infringement on their freedom in a court of law.
According to the article enforced mask wearing does not restrict personal freedoms if we go with the more nuanced definition of freedom. The laws are publicly known and impartially enforced. There is democratic accountability because people can contest the mask wearing requirement in a court of law. Finally, the laws are the product of a government which is subject to judicial oversight and to political opposition. If you want a contrast between actually being free and not being free then just think of China in terms of the criteria outlined for being free. Laws are publicly known but they are not impartially enforced. There is no real democratic accountability because the laws cannot be challenged in the courts. Finally, there is no judicial oversight and no political opposition. There is simply the CCP and Xi Jinping who is President for life.
We have far more to worry about than being required to wear masks in public. For example, two cities in Australia rolled out trials of new facial recognition CCTV cameras. The facial pictures captured by the CCTV cameras are then matched against government databases and social media accounts. The argument for the trial of the CCTV cameras revolves around public safety. Who would not want criminals monitored and captured? Who would not want the police to quickly locate a missing child? However, remember that you are free when you are protected from arbitrary interference. In a surveillance state, this would not be the case. The police or security forces would be able to monitor everyone. There is, therefore, the potential for the police to take arbitrary action against any individual on the grounds that they have been perceived to be engaged in some kind of activity that looks suspicious. We all know how that has worked out in China.
People Are Feeling Covid-19 Survivor Guilt
A headline today from “The Conversation” beggared belief. The headline read, “It’s OK to be OK: how to stop feeling ‘survivor guilt’ during COVID-19“. Seriously. Survivor guilt. Apparently those who are experiencing these feelings of guilt are people who are doing more than just surviving Covid-19. They are, rather like me, thriving under Covid-19. In what can only be described as an act of utter doltishness, the author of the article actually points out that survivor guilt is experienced by holocaust survivors and by survivors of terrorist attacks. It might just be me but I can see no way in which the feelings that surface from surviving Covid-19 can in any way be compared to the feelings of those who survived the systematic murder of millions of people in Nazi Germany. Nor can I see how those Covid-19 feelings can be in any way comparable to the feelings that must arise from having survived a terror attack.
The article outlines two types of Covid-19 survivor guilt. First, people are feeling guilty for having survived when hundreds of thousands of people have not survived. Secondly, and this is apparently a new form of survivor guilt, there are people who feel that they have not been sufficiently impacted by Covid-19. For example, workers feel guilty because they are still employed when many of their colleagues have been made redundant. A Professor from the University of Melbourne advises that feeling survivor guilt is perfectly normal and that is is a part of our evolutionary programming. Essentially, the feeling of guilt means that one has empathy for others and having empathy allows people to form social bonds and connections. Finally we are warned that we must deal with survivor guilt otherwise we will see increased cases of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. Again, seriously, post traumatic stress disorder resulting from surviving a pandemic where currently only 1% of those infected are in a serious or critical condition.
I Continue to Maintain That the Spread of the Virus is a Result of People’s Stupidity
There is a report from ABC News detailing that more than one in four people who had tested positive for the Coronavirus were found not to be at home when they were visited by authorities. The actual figures are that authorities visited 500 properties with no one found at home in 130 of the properties. Basically, these people were out and about spreading the virus around Melbourne. Furthermore, since July 22nd authorities have made a total of 1,300 visits, with 400 residences found not to be at home. The story reports rather oddly that people with a confirmed positive diagnosis are allowed to leave their homes for exercise although ideally they would exercise at home. WTF. You can test positive for the virus and then go out and exercise.
The next story is also about human stupidity but also about two counts of criminal behaviour. ABC news reports that three Queensland women have been charged with making false border declarations when returning to Queensland from Melbourne, Victoria. Two of the women tested positive for Covid-19. Melbourne is the city that is currently reporting significant daily increases in Covid-19 cases and Queensland’s border restrictions prevent anyone from Victoria entering Queensland. It appears that the three women may first have travelled to Sydney, New South Wales and that they then tried to enter Queensland on the grounds that they were travelling to Queensland directly from New South Wales.
The story takes a strange turn with a second ABC news story reporting that police are investigating whether the women had been trained by a crime syndicate on how to illegally cross the border. The claim is that the women were transporting stolen luxury items for the crime syndicate. The investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile the two women seem to be at the centre of a social media storm which has likely taken something of a racist turn from comments that are made in the news story. The mother of one of the women, Aida Lasu said that it was unfair that here daughter had been branded as a “serious criminal” and she reported that her husband, and her other seven children had tested negative to COVID-19.
First Published July 31st, 2020