Coronavirus (COVID-19) and our Antipodean Cousins
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic is one that would see a lot of preppers bug-out and others think that it is not a bad idea at the moment. In Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa countries share contiguous land masses thus the movement of people is significantly harder to control; however, our antipodean cousins in Australia and New Zealand have the distinct advantage of distance, isolation and modern day economies with very good health facilities. Overall you would expect them to be coping significantly better than elsewhere. The short answer is they are but one is doing better than the other - read on.
The handling in Australia and New Zealand reflects two clearly different philosophies.
In Australia, the Commonwealth Government, although not specifically enunciated, is clearly trying to balance health matters with economic priorities. The result is a slow death for businesses, an epidemic remains intransigent to measures taken. The healthcare system is also being gradually crippled - with private hospitals making an outright economic decision taking one-third of intensive care unit capacity offline (why didn't the Australian Government secure such essential services?) and a public health system under significant pressure with resources running out, medical staff getting sick, etc.
The Australian Government has also failed to be transparent and clear in its advice to its own people. In Australia it is quite normal that in times of crisis, that the elder statesmen of politics (previous Prime Ministers) to comment and provide support for the incumbent government or otherwise if from another political persuasion. This has been clearly absent from both sides.
Then we have what I would call the spin doctors, be they government officials, "independent" government paid consultants and elected officials who seek to twist the facts. What do they say " he who pays the piper calls the tune". Some more recent statements such as "an increase is a good sign" or something along those lines - that one beggars believe. The PM coming out today stating that the rate of increase has slowed from one week ago when new cases were increasing at 25-30% and now it is 13-15% - thus the Australian Government measures are working. The numbers are correct; however, the analysis is incorrect and deceitful at the least. The fact is that if your cases grew by 100 on a base of 1,000 a week ago (10%) and now they grew at 100 on a base of 3,000 (3+%) you are really not making progress. A better tracking would be new cases per million of population as it indicates the incidence in the community. In Australia this was 5.65 per million a week ago and as of yesterday 17.84 per million (The world average is 8.82 per million as at the time of writing). This number continues to rise each day.
I'll briefly mention the approach taken with respect to COVID-19 testing and what death certificates may reflect as the cause of death. Testing has been expanded in Australia to wider groups but remains limited - thus there may be many sent home with a mild case of COVID-19 that recover over time but do suffer some respiratory damage (a legacy for the future). These are not tested and not counted. Further deaths from COVID-19 are generally from respiratory failure or maybe a heart attack - this is how many are recorded as no test is undertaken for COVID-19 - thus the mortality rate for COVID-19 is kept artificially low. Other countries are doing the same to various degrees while some third world countries have little hope of providing reliable COVID-19 statistics through no fault of their own.
The Australian Government also is failing to be transparent with respect to a variety of statistics - masks, PPEs, transit passengers into the country, etc, etc. This only suggests that the lack of transparency is also related to hiding the facts from the Australian people. So much so many are not taking the Australian Government seriously and think that the present situation is an opportunity to party.
Hop across the ditch to New Zealand where they have a PM (Jacinda Ardern) that apparently many Kiwis do not like but many other countries say they would like for their Prime Minister. I happen to be ardent supporter although I do not get to vote for her.
Sadly, today New Zealand recorded its first COVID-19 death and at least one other Kiwi is in an acute state.
This is a government that, unlike Australia, has a very clear four stage plan. Australia is simply making it up as they go with words like "unprecedented" and "uncharted territory" being bandied around. The New Zealand plan has been communicated so clearly that anyone in an English speaking country would understand what is required of its people. The PM has been very clear leading up to the lockdown with a memorable session on Facebook during the first lockdown evening. Here she cam across clearly as both a leader and a mother in a Kiwi family happy to answer questions. Based on all news reports the lockdown is being followed very seriously by Kiwis - they are not going to "the footy (soccer or football)", or the beach, etc.
I see a Government here that is willing to share information as openly and honestly as possible. Their agenda is the health and safety of all Kiwis - the economy can wait a few weeks.
The Facebook session was also very clear - the numbers will rise and as the lockdown kicks in the numbers should fall back. Lets look at New Zealand's growth rate per million. A week ago it was 10.42 case growth per million - leading up to the lockdown it rose to 17.50 per million and has dropped to 17.29 as of yesterday with indications of 15.0 for today. Something is working here.
The mortality rate (which is calculated on closed cases during an epidemic) sits at 1.8% compared to Australia currently about 8% (dropping from nearly 16%) and a worldwide mortality rate nearly at 18% and still rising.
Although it may be premature, present indications are that a "developed" country's ability to isolate and lock-down when there is a world-wide pandemic is a far better approach than other more vague and indecisive approaches. My wider analysis is that New Zealand and , although not mentioned, Japan are two countries that would be the best to live in during the COVID-19 pandemic and possibly after it has passed. Noting that the Japanese culture is very organised, modern and very polite - being a democracy that can work with military precision.