Advocates of zero-Covid have a lot to answer for. New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden has just announced that the three-day lockdown imposed earlier this week in response to one coronavirus case – you read that correctly – is being extended for a week, following a rise in positive test results to a whopping 31. Meanwhile, Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier of New South Wales, announced that Sydney would remain in lockdown until the end of September. In certain parts of the city, a 9pm to 5am curfew will be imposed and outside exercise restricted to one hour a day. New Zealand has seen only 26 Covid deaths in a population of five million, while Australia has chalked up 974 in a population of over 25 million – yet the insane zero-Covid policy means just one positive case can prompt a lockdown, as we saw in New Zealand earlier this week. MailOnline has more.
Ardern, who is trying to sustain a zero-Covid strategy through strict border controls and lockdowns, initially announced the national shutdown would last three days but on Friday had to succumb to the inevitable and extend it to at least a week.
Vast swathes of Australia are also under zero-Covid lockdowns and residents of Sydney were told they will have to stay home until at least October under strict lockdown rules that will not be lifted until at least 70% of the population are fully vaccinated.
When it hits that vaccination target, the restrictions will be lifted under a “freedom roadmap” similar to the one implemented in the U.K. months ago.
New Zealand initially brought in its lockdown over one case but Ardern said that officials were still trying to assess the scale of the outbreak, which emerged in Auckland this week and has now spread to Wellington.
“We just don’t quite know the full scale of this Delta outbreak. All in all, this tells us we need to continue to be cautious,” she said.
Worth reading in full.
Daily Sceptic contributor Ramesh Thakur, Emeritus Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, has an excellent piece about Australia’s descent into an authoritarian dystopia in the Japan Times. Here’s an extract:
Australia has morphed from being the envy of the world last year for its incredible pandemic management to international incredulity at the brutality of its authoritarian measures to “crush and kill the virus”.
In America, popular conservative TV host Tucker Carlson calls Australia a “COVID dictatorship”. With unconscious irony, the video clip was removed from YouTube. His colleague Laura Ingraham was incredulous at learning that soldiers and police helicopters were patrolling Sydney’s streets and skies to enforce the lockdown.
The premier of Australia’s largest state said on Aug. 14th, at a time when the Taliban were making lightning advances across Afghanistan, that this current pandemic is “literally a war”. The U.K. Telegraph said in an editorial, “How has it come to the point that Australia needs to call up the military to eradicate a virus that is now endemic in the world?”
Beijing is enjoying a moment of schadenfreude. In an article in Global Times, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, Lu Xue recalled comments from Foreign Minister Marise Payne that were critical of China’s aggressive pandemic management. “Some countries,” she said in June 2020, “are using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy to promote their own more authoritarian models.” Lu added, “Now, quite ironically, it turns out that Canberra plans to send its military personnel to help enforce social lockdown.”
The authoritarian streak has seen various instances of what some people would call inhumane treatment. At a time of zero active cases in Canberra, a woman was denied permission to fly to Queensland to see her dying father. A mother from across the border in New South Wales lost her baby last year after being unable to get timely treatment in Brisbane because of the time it would have taken to fill out the paperwork to cross the state line and enter the hospital to receive emergency care.
A fully vaccinated Sydney grandmother was also recently denied a permit to go to Melbourne to help care for her grandchildren while her daughter battles advanced breast cancer. And in a country town in February, a pregnant woman posting on Facebook to support a peaceful protest against Victoria’s lockdown was handcuffed and arrested in her house in the early morning hours, still in her pajamas.
Worth reading in full.