Last Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his “Fortress Australia” COVID restrictions, which have shut off travel in and out of the country, will remain in effect for another year.
To date, the country of 25,763,214 residents has suffered 910 COVID deaths or 0.0035 percent of the population. Over the course of 16 months, that is only 0.00022 COVID deaths per month.
Claiming the draconian rules have been effective in stopping the coronavirus from spreading, in terms of economic and social impact, however, such isolation is not seen as beneficial. Omar Khorshid, president of the Australian Medical Association, said the country “cannot keep its international borders closed indefinitely.” “At some point,” he warned, such closures will be “impossible to justify” because of “their impact on lives and livelihoods.”
Critics of the “Fortress Australia” policy have used the term “hermit nation” to describe the imposed isolation on the country.
COVID vs. Flu
One outspoken critic, Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka, has argued that borders should gradually reopen because COVID-19 will not be eradicated. She had said that “some people may die, but it will be way smaller than with the flu.” (See our 10 November article, “COVID COMPARED TO SEASONAL FLU.”)
Morrison called her remarks “insensitive” and said the borders would remain closed as long as necessary, saying, “I’m not going to take risks with Australians’ lives.” And the public seems to concur: a study by Newspoll showed that 73 percent of Australians approved of keeping the travel ban until at least mid-2022.
TRENDPOST: As more people are vaccinated, the media and political hysteria that drove the border closings may begin to abate, but, so far, in a population of nearly 26 million, only about three million Australians have received their shots.