So this blog is mostly about Climate Change. But now there’s COVID19. I think it’s an interesting subplot for this blog. There are a lot of parallels.
COVID19 and Climate Change are both existential threats. But COVID19 is more like an enemy in a battle ground. People die of visible symptoms. Individuals can be tested. The spread is being monitored and reported. It’s like a rash on the world map. Sadly, like Climate Change, COVID19 is likely to be most devastating in poor communities (no matter what the leadership). And like Climate Change, it will have severe economic impacts which, again, will hit the poor most harshly.
Interestingly, the responses to COVID19 by world leaders are almost as variable as they are to Climate Change. Singapore has leapt on it ferociously and effectively. They have adopted draconian methods, ignoring any thought of individual rights to privacy or freedom. Their immediate and organised response has been rewarded with a slow rate of increase and few deaths.
South Korea has also responded very effectively. They have opened drive-through clinics where anyone can be tested, even if they have no symptoms. This way, they are catching the carriers early and can enforce isolation even when there are no symptoms visible. They have a high rate of diagnosis but a low rate of death.
Iran, on the other hand, denied their outbreak for several weeks and have been reluctant to close down religious shrines (part of the pilgrimmage to Mecca) or to forbid religious gatherings. It is still hard to stay how many people are infected in Iran but the figures being reported in hospitals are rising rapidly.
The Indonesian government continues to insist that there are no cases in Indonesia.
Cambodia claims that they only had one case and that that person has recovered.
Thailand says they have no COVID19 but there is a sudden upsurge of mysterious viral pneumonia cases.
President Trump has continued to make his usual wild statements. He has suggested that his people probably won’t die. He has blamed the Democrats and called it a hoax. He has said it will disappear, like a miracle. Earlier this year he got rid of a role created by Obama for a specialised Pandemic expert. The Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC) in the US had an excellent plan for an event like this but has not followed it because of Trumps unpredictable swings in statements and policies. Tests for COVID19 were initially limited strictly to people who had traveled recently in Wuhan. It is hard to guess where Trump’s style of leadership will lead.
Australia and New Zealand have stayed on similar cautious paths – restricting travel and mirroring their plans to reflect what has been happening in China. However, I read this morning that a woman returned to the Gold Coast from Iran last week and went straight back to work in a beauty salon. She has now been diagnosed with COVID19 and officials are trying to contact the forty people she treated plus, presumably, any other people she has (knowingly!) interacted with.
It seems likely Australia will not suffer as badly as other places in terms of the illness itself. But our government is feeling very sorry for itself economically. Josh Frydenburg is learning that counting your chickens before they’ve hatched is a bad idea. He said at election time last year that Australia “is back in the black”. But “is” was a misleading verb as he actually meant that by the 2020 Budget, Australia WOULD have a surplus. Unfortunately for him, the world had other plans. Between an historic summer of bushfires and this new existential threat, we Australians are feeling how small we are and how little power we have. Even the most powerful Australians.
We all live on the same planet. We are all governed by the same laws of physics. We are all mortal. But our leaders get to choose when and how our lives are challenged. Politics is such a Godly pursuit, it seems.