While other countries are announcing second lockdowns, Australia is getting closer to eliminating the coronavirus.
Australia’s battle with COVID-19 has almost come to an end.
Currently, governments and leaders all over the world are implementing new lockdown and social distancing rules as infections surge for a second time across Europe and the US. According to the Washington Post, Australia has not reported any new cases since Thursday ‘and only seven since Saturday, besides travelers in hotel quarantine’. Taking this further, it was reported that Melbourne ‘the main hotbed of Australia’s outbreak’ has not had any cases since last week on October 30.
Sharon Lewin, the Melbourne-based director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, commented:
I never thought we would really get to zero, which is amazing. […] I’ve been going out nonstop, booking restaurants, shopping, getting my nails done and my hair cut.
What measures did Australia take and what contributed to its success?
The Washington Post reported that it was the country’s decision to quickly shut its borders that massively contributed to its success in containing the virus. Moreover, it claimed that ‘health officials rapidly built up the manpower to track down and isolate outbreaks. And unlike the U.S. approach, all of Australia’s states either shut their domestic borders or severely limited movement for interstate and, in some cases, intrastate travelers’. More importantly, Australian leaders succeeded in persuading their people to follow the social distancing and lockdown rules early on in the pandemic.
Health Minister Greg Hunt and the conservative prime minister Scott Morrison led Australia’s national response.
Unlike many leaders around the world, Australia’s government heavily relied on health experts from the very beginning of the pandemic. In an interview, Hunt explained:
In January and February, we were focused on containing the risk of a catastrophic outbreak. We had a clear strategic plan, which was the combination of containment and capacity-building. […] We closed the border and concentrated on testing, tracing and social distancing. We built up our capacity to fight the virus in primary and aged care and hospitals. We invested in ventilators, and vaccine and treatment research.
Currently, despite the 7.5 million immigrants in Australia, citizens and residents are banned from overseas travel. Furthermore, it is believed that by the middle of next year, the majority of Australians will have access to a vaccine which would allow them to travel.