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What is the Covid-19 Exit Strategy of 'Zero Covid' countries such as Australia and New Zealand?

DustyBin

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The issue with zero covid to me is twofold, how do you deal with cases when they arise without too disruption and how do you open to other countries that have endemic covid 19. No zero covid country seems to have solved these issues. In the case of China I get the impression the government there is not too bothered with such a policy causing massive disruption or opening up to rest of the world as their population have no say in how the country is run. Even pre Covid I get the impression the Chinese government was trying to disconnect from the rest of the world anyway.

Since Australia is a democracy, this is not the case in there, which makes me wonder how long their population will put up with being unable to see family abroad or having the ever present threat of snap lockdowns that could last months.

I completely agree, however by "demonstrating" a zero covid strategy they may lead other countries down the same self-destructive and ultimately futile path. The CCP must have noticed that the West basically copied what they did last year, and I'm sure they'd take great pleasure in seeing further damage caused to Australia's economy and democracy. There have been too many positive outcomes for China to simply ignore the possibility that they've not acted in good faith in my opinion. I'd stop short of suggesting they started the pandemic deliberately but once it began they may well have spotted "opportunities".
 
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sharpinf

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Seems like Australia's bedding in for the long haul, seen on Reddit for Melbourne the Government are starting construction of an "accomodation facility" (quarantine centre) to start operating only at the end of the year with 500 beds - certainly won't be booking flights for a while yet.

An official website of the constructors 'Multiplex' also shows some renders and detail behind it.
 

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kristiang85

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I thought Australia was stopping the quarantine once 80% of their population got vaccinated? Obviously they don't expect that to happen then.
 

Kite159

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They probably think building a large centre will be cheaper than paying for use of the hotels any arrivals have to stay in.
 

big_rig

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I see the news is reporting Victoria is entering its sixth lockdown now, after another round of successful elimination/'donut days' (this time for a period of about twelve hours or so it seems).
 
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nlogax

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I see the news is reporting Victoria is entering its sixth lockdown now, after another round of successful 'elimination' (this time for a period of about twelve hours or so it seems).

It's actually astonishing. I thought the UK had screwed up royally but Australia appears to have taken a rifle to both its feet in the way it's dealing with this.
 

ainsworth74

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It's actually astonishing. I thought the UK had screwed up royally but Australia appears to have taken a rifle to both its feet in the way it's dealing with this.

Yes it's not great is it? The strategy (whether or not you agree with it) of basically bringing up the drawbridge for eighteen months to everyone and snapping straight into harsh lockdowns at the slightest sign of an uptick in cases clearly worked to keep deaths and cases low but was only ever going to work long term of they got straight out of the traps into vaccinating everyone ASAP.

Instead it appears their vaccine imitative has stalled out and they're now just trapped in this cycle of easing off a bit, locking down a lot, easing off, locking down, etc etc all whilst keeping the drawbridge firmly shut.

I mean perhaps if they'd pulled off as successful a vaccination program as the UK we might now be able to enviously look at an Australia who had some tough lockdowns with the social and economic issues that raises but at least delivered a very low death count (even when adjusted for population). As it is I'm not sure anyone could really be envious of their position anymore. Whilst they have indeed kept deaths low (and I would argue that is laudable) they seem like their now just trapped in a never ending cycle.

Looks like their vaccination program got started properly around the beginning of March and in the following five months they've gotten to third of their population with one jab and around 15% with two (open to correction on these figures!). At that rate it's going to be a long time before they're getting anywhere near the level where they might be able to unlock without a tidal wave of deaths.
 

yorksrob

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It is, frankly a bizarre development, particularly given Australia is wealthy and advanced enough to have built its own facility to knock out any number of vaccines of choice under license.
 

Pakenhamtrain

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Seems like Australia's bedding in for the long haul, seen on Reddit for Melbourne the Government are starting construction of an "accomodation facility" (quarantine centre) to start operating only at the end of the year with 500 beds - certainly won't be booking flights for a while yet.

An official website of the constructors 'Multiplex' also shows some renders and detail behind it.
It's a replacement for the Hotels which are like swiss cheese.
It's around a year too late though.

It is, frankly a bizarre development, particularly given Australia is wealthy and advanced enough to have built its own facility to knock out any number of vaccines of choice under license.
CSL can only make AstraZenaca. They're equipped to make anything else.

I see the news is reporting Victoria is entering its sixth lockdown now, after another round of successful elimination/'donut days' (this time for a period of about twelve hours or so it seems).
That we are. A whole 9 days after the end of the last one. Mystery cases have popped up. A teacher at a school in Melbournes west that was the centre of an outbreak last year.

As of tonight 62 percent of the country is in lockdown.
 

big_rig

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It's actually astonishing. I thought the UK had screwed up royally but Australia appears to have taken a rifle to both its feet in the way it's dealing with this.
Quite - it certainly is a marathon and not a sprint in terms of 'ranking' how countries are doing overall (as silly as it is to do that) is the takeaway I think this shows! I think the Sydney lockdown is until the end of the month but no doubt that will be extended. Their leader has been more pragmatic previously so it will be interesting to see what they think the options are in a few weeks.
 

brad465

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Australia overall logged 304 cases today according to worldometer, the highest of the current surge, and while only going up relatively slowly, the restrictions currently in place are certainly not bringing cases down.
 

kristiang85

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Australia overall logged 304 cases today according to worldometer, the highest of the current surge, and while only going up relatively slowly, the restrictions currently in place are certainly not bringing cases down.

If you look at the Worldometer graph, it's showing pretty much exactly the same pattern as this time last year.

Anybody would think its behaving like a seasonal winter virus no matter what you throw at it. Yes harsh lockdowns will stop it, but it only increases the number of winters Aussies have to put up with this, especially with their pitiful vaccination rates.
 

Merseysider

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Anybody would think its behaving like a seasonal winter virus no matter what you throw at it.
Well you’ve let the cat out of the bag now ;)
but it only increases the number of winters Aussies have to put up with this
I don’t imagine they’ll be happy to put up with this random lockdown lottery for too much longer; certainly not into next year when they can see the rest of the world has returned to normal. We’re already seeing protests - these will only grow as time goes on.
especially with their pitiful vaccination rates
This comes down to choices the government made regarding procurement of vaccines - and they will surely regret delaying so long. For example:
health.gov.au said:
In November 2020, the Australian Government announced an agreement to secure 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
...
On 13 May 2021, the Australian Government announced an agreement to secure 25 million doses of the Moderna vaccine.
(link)
 

island

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Australia will shortly begin construction of the $200m quarantine facility in Mickleham, Victoria mentioned further up the thread. The facility will have 120 ”cabins” accommodating up to 500 people and may in the future expand to accommodate up to 3000. Two further facilities are in advanced planning stages in other states.
 

Bantamzen

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Australia will shortly begin construction of the $200m quarantine facility in Mickleham, Victoria mentioned further up the thread. The facility will have 120 ”cabins” accommodating up to 500 people and may in the future expand to accommodate up to 3000. Two further facilities are in advanced planning stages in other states.
I wonder how many vaccines that $200 million would buy?

Priorities Australia, priorities...
 

Pakenhamtrain

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Australia overall logged 304 cases today according to worldometer, the highest of the current surge, and while only going up relatively slowly, the restrictions currently in place are certainly not bringing cases down.
And 291 of them in NSW.

I wonder how many vaccines that $200 million would buy?

Priorities Australia, priorities...
The Federal government is responsible for the vaccines(And quarantine). The Mickleham facility is a state government initiative.
 

Merseysider

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Facility? Beginning to sound more like an internment camp.
For “re-education” :lol:

Looks like Australia is doubling down: (link)
BBC said:
Australians living overseas could be "trapped" in Australia if they return, after the nation's government tightened its border rules without notice.
Since March last year, the country has banned its citizens from leaving the country as part of its Covid strategy.
That restriction has not previously applied to Australians who usually live in other countries.
But they will now need to apply for an exemption for outbound travel - in line with rules for other Australians.
 
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Merseysider

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One of the things that has come out in the last few months are people who are flying into Australia doing thier 2 weeks quarantine then going back overseas taking up space from people who actually want to come home.
Although if they’re Australian citizens all the same, they surely have the same right to come home, including if they quarantine for a couple of weeks before seeing friends/family for just a few days, then go back.
 

MikeWM

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Although if they’re Australian citizens all the same, they surely have the same right to come home, including if they quarantine for a couple of weeks before seeing friends/family for just a few days, then go back.

Australia is already in what could be politely described as a very dubious relationship with the norms of international law, by having this limit on how many of its citizens are allowed to return to Australia each week.
 

Pakenhamtrain

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Although if they’re Australian citizens all the same, they surely have the same right to come home, including if they quarantine for a couple of weeks before seeing friends/family for just a few days, then go back.
The problem is they bring the rona back with them.
Lockdown 4 or 5 was caused by someone who went overseas for a wedding in India. Did HQ in SA(Where he was infected ironically) then brought it to Victoria. People can't attend a wedding or a funeral here yet someone approved this person's application to leave.
 

yorkie

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Australia is a very dystopian place, where authoritarianism is now the norm

If the objective was to frighten the hell out of the community, I can guarantee you they have done that."
Dai Le, a local councillor in Sydney, is speaking angrily about the deployment of 300 military personnel to the city's streets this week...
The soldiers arrive almost a month after police deployed an extra 100 officers to the area to enforce lockdown rules.
"I feel we've been treated like second-class citizens," Ms Le says.
"They have killed people's confidence, they have triggered so much fear. What is this message? What is it doing to a community that's already under siege?"
This is absolutely outrageous. If I lived in Australia I would be wanting to protest in any way possible.

I hope that the political leaders who called for such measures are severely punished at the ballot box.
 

zero

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The problem is they bring the rona back with them.
Lockdown 4 or 5 was caused by someone who went overseas for a wedding in India. Did HQ in SA(Where he was infected ironically) then brought it to Victoria. People can't attend a wedding or a funeral here yet someone approved this person's application to leave.

Those are completely different situations though - that Melbourne man is resident in Australia and went to India for 3 months. The fact that he caught covid-19 in quarantine is an argument against hotel quarantine (and for Howard Springs-style facilities, but at some point these will have a leak too unless the staff also stay there for 14 days and there's no mixing between recent arrivals and those who are about to be freed).

AFAIK any Australian citizen residing in Australia who wants to leave Australia for more than 3 months and has some sort of links to their claimed destination rather than going purely for a holiday is being approved to leave. Of course once you are out, you don't have to go where you said you would, and unlike NZ where you need a quarantine slot before you book a flight, you can attempt to return any time and it's mostly up to the airlines if you make it back.



The recent changes are regarding Australian citizens resident outside Australia who want to visit Australia.

Although sounding rather drastic, this is apparently just to reduce waiting times at the airport. For the past 1.5 years Australian citizens claiming to be resident outside Australia would have to make their claim to be foreign residents at airport check-in, whereupon immigration officers would take their documents and examine their previous movements in and out of Australia. For some reason this took a long time and caused delays and so they now want such people to apply to depart in advance.

I suppose the effect will be to deter shorter trips that can be postponed for another year or two which is what they want anyway, though it remains to be seen whether anyone will actually get "stranded" in Australia. Also the current lockdowns are probably deterring visits.


I do recognise that letting people come and go frequently is not fair on people who have been waiting a long time to return to Australia, but the way to solve that is not to make it illegal to leave. If there are going to be arrival caps then it would be fairer to have a first out, first in system where someone who wants to depart Australia today accepts that they have to wait until everyone who departed before them has the opportunity to return first.
 

nickw1

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From what I am reading here, it appears that Scott Morrison is a dangerous authoritarian, and living proof that the claim that right-wingers are opposed to authoritarianism is blatantly false. I don't think I've ever known a Western leader impose such harsh restrictions for so long in modern times. Mind you Labor seem to be just as bad, which effectively means that there is no democracy in Australia as no-one is pushing a different point of view.

It just all seems completely unnecessary. Why have lockdowns with tiny numbers of cases which are a drop in the ocean compared to the situation in Europe and the USA? Why not vaccinate people like we've done in Europe and the USA, end lockdowns, open up the borders and carry on? The way things are going, Australia is going to self-destruct - there's going to be catastrophic economic damage and bankruptcies if lockdowns can occur 'just like that' at any time.

If they're trying to 'look good' in international eyes, to my mind they're doing the opposite. Why not just do what the rest of the Western world is doing?
 
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brad465

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From what I am reading here, it appears that Scott Morrison is a dangerous authoritarian, and living proof that the claim that right-wingers are opposed to authoritarianism is blatantly false. I don't think I've ever known a Western leader impose such harsh restrictions for so long in modern times. Mind you Labor seem to be just as bad, which effectively means that there is no democracy in Australia as no-one is pushing a different point of view.

It just all seems completely unnecessary. Why have lockdowns with tiny numbers of cases which are a drop in the ocean compared to the situation in Europe and the USA? Why not vaccinate people like we've done in Europe and the USA, end lockdowns, open up the borders and carry on? The way things are going, Australia is going to self-destruct - there's going to be catastrophic economic damage and bankruptcies if lockdowns can occur 'just like that' at any time.

If they're trying to 'look good' in international eyes, to my mind they're doing the opposite. Why not just do what the rest of the Western world is doing?
The problem they had/have was their strategy of using and island advantage to try and isolate from covid and going hard early might have worked well very early on, and in some ways did, but no thought was given to how sustainable such a move long term was, and the simple fact that to change strategy after doing something hugely disruptive and costly is to admit they were wrong; something that nobody is ever allowed to do in politics. This is kind of like Macbeth's wading through blood quote; Australia have gone so far that going back could be as costly as carrying on with their new status quo.
 

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