By Nikie Yang
As we all know, COVID-19 is making a world tour. At the time of writing this, in Australia there are over 4000 confirmed cases, and around the world numbers have exceeded 400,000.
COVID-19 is believed to have originated in the province of Hubei, Wuhan from ‘wet’ wildlife market. On the 20th of February, the nation cancelled Chinese New Year Celebrations, and Wuhan went into lockdown on the 23rd, with other provinces doing the same not long after. By the 25th of last month the whole of China was in lockdown and filled with deserted roads.
59 days after, the people of Wuhan are finally free to move around again. There have been no more reported cases in Hubei, and China is starting to return to normal. They did it, and we can too. It is important to remember that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Australians are becoming more confused about who to listen to as new policies seem to be released every other day. Our Prime Minister, once adamant that schools should have to remain open and saying that there is no danger for students to go to school, has now rescinded this sentiment. NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian and doctors are urging all parents to keep their children home from school. Cafes and restaurants are still allowed to be open if they provide takeaway. However, some café owners are begging for their cafes to be shut down even though they know they are going to lose a massive amount of money. They say that being closed down is better than being at work all day with only 4 or 5 customers coming in. Australia has now closed their borders to travellers and Australian citizens/residents are allowed to return, but have to isolate themselves for a fortnight in a policed hotel. Non-essential gatherings are banned, such as parties, meet-ups, concerts etc. Non-essential spaces are now closed to the public such as cinemas, parlours, centres, libraries, nightclubs, concert venues etc. Weddings are limited to 5 people and funerals with 10 people. Family gatherings, such as birthday parties, barbeques and house parties are not allowed if they contain more than 2 non-household members.
Meanwhile, in the United States, President Donald Trump first reacted with barely any care, tweeting on March 9th, 2020, “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that.” But things took a drastic turn on Donald Trump’s view of COVID-19. He began to start putting in restrictions and tried to spread some positivity, stating that he would love to have the country open by Easter and raring to celebrate. As the United States cases rose, it became obvious this wasn’t just a common cold, and restrictions began. The United States now has the most cases in the world. New York is now in lockdown- New York Governor Cuomo said on Livestream "We've procured about 7,000 ventilators. We need, as a minimum, another 30,000 ventilators. This is a critical and desperate need for ventilators [..] We need them in 14 days. Fema is sending 400 ventilators only. Federal action is needed to address this now through the Federal Defence Production Act" The governor made a clear statement that federal action is needed right now to help New York overcome this situation.
Italy was the first country to have the 2nd highest amount of cases after China. Italy’s government was quick to act after cases were found in its country. They began to close borders and set up more hospitals for patients as the number started to grow. Italy went into a nationwide lockdown 3 weeks ago and is now still in lockdown. People are only allowed to go out only if they have a permit otherwise police can make an arrest. Even though Italy tried to act as quickly as possible when the numbers started to grow, Italy is having a difficult time with shortages of hospital beds and ventilators. Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte stated, “The health emergency, as we foresaw is turning into a full economic emergency, but I want to say to all of you that the state is here, the state is present.” And “The government will take extraordinary measures that will allow us to stand up again and restart as soon as possible”
Why do I mention these nations’ official responses? Because they are so different, and not at all reflective of the responses of the people. Around the world, people are helping each other in any way they can- singing from balconies, hosting online classes. Hopefully the global community can support every country in the same way that our populations have banded together.