Granted, times are tough right now. But when you compare how Australia is positioned to weather the COVID-19 storm compared to other countries in the world you realise how very lucky we are.
So next time you hear someone complain about being ‘stuck at home’, show them the following 5 points that highlight why staying at home in Australia is a privilege none of us should take for granted.
As a country and continent defined as an island or ‘land girt by sea’ we can prevent one of our most important risk factors – international travellers from entering our borders. This is not the case for other continents in the world, like Europe, Africa and the US. The borders of countries on the African continent, for instance, are nothing more than lines drawn on a map. In those situations, people are moving between countries quite easily, potentially taking the virus with them.
2. Population density
Not only is Australia socially distant from the world, our cities and towns are largely distanced from each other. Within our cities, there is plenty of breathing room, allowing us to adhere to social distancing principles more stringently and easily than people can in densely populated cities like Manila, Jakarta and New York. the latter having 38,000 people per square kilometre. In comparison, Australia’s most densely populated city, Sydney, has 407 people per square kilometre.
You don’t need to look far to see the results of poor leadership decisions during the current crisis. For instance, the US wasted 2 weeks prep time while President Trump told the people of America that the pandemic was anything from a hoax to a situation that would be over by Easter! Now they are in a dire situation where 100,000 deaths is a best-case scenario. The Australian response has been totally different. While some of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decisions has led to criticism, he has so far largely done a commendable job. Federal, state and local governments are working together to lead us through the coronavirus crisis and the results of their decisions and the public’s actions are now being reflected in a flattening of the curve.
4. Our health care system
Australia’s health system is ranked 32nd in the world in a recent World Health Organisation report. Many low income nations simply don’t have access to the level of health care we currently enjoy here in Australia. Our hospitals are very clean and staffed by some of the most highly trained health care workers in the world.
The next time you start feeling sorry for yourself being cooped up at home, spare a thought for the people of West Bengal, India, where villagers have been forced to quarantine in trees to keep their loved ones safe. It is so important to appreciate that while it may be inconvenient for us to stay home, people in many other parts of the world are not so lucky to have a roof over their heads like most of us do.
A letter from an Indian Doctor says it all. In the letter, which has been widely shared on social media, the doctor writes, “Social distancing is a privilege. It means you live in a house large enough to practise it. Hand washing is a privilege too. It means you have access to running water. Hand sanitisers are a privilege. It means you have money to buy them. Lockdowns are a privilege. It means you can afford to be at home.”
All of us who are practicing social distancing and imposed a lockdown on ourselves must appreciate how privileged we are. We are indeed the lucky country.