ScoMo plays Russian roulette with elderly as schools stay open

Lordy, at the AFR:

The federal government’s decision to keep schools open, is partly to try and develop “herd immunity”. This has risks but also has large potential benefits.

On Sunday, as the nationally tally of confirmed cases of coronavirus reached 298, Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Paul Kelly, said as there was no herd immunity to the new coronavirus in Australia, everyone was susceptible.

…At the same press conference, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said a positive aspect of this virus is that there have been very few reports of symptomatic infection in children.

“What we don’t know is whether children are getting infected but just don’t get symptoms. They can still spread it or they’re not getting infected. The former is probably more likely,” he said.

Others sat that when infected with the virus, children tend to get less severe symptoms probably because their “innate” immune system is active, meaning they are better able to control infections they have not encountered before.

This innate immunity fades with age leaving older people more susceptible to developing severe symptoms.

Keeping schools open means children may infect each other. The theory is that these infections will be very mild and that once infected, the children will be immune.


David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


    • +1. We have pulled our kids (2 1/2 and 5) from daycare and kinder. Have parents and inlaws etc who we need to look out for. We each need to act responsibly as our Govt clearly not sending us any useful direction

  1. So this is the calculus:
    keep your kids home and they can see the grands, or
    sorry grands, no kiddy time

    Told wifey to have a yarn to her parents about their social distancing. They’re Collingwood supporters, so it’s a bit easier for the community hahahahah #amirite?

    • No it wont, as far as I can tell social media is roasting SmoCorona for exposing our kiddies and spreading the virus.

      The question is a fair one: if you are banning events with 500 people why are you not closing schools with 1500 students?

      • Yes, totally conflicted advice, kids at school will have thousands of potential virus contacts eg touching door frame as they honk into class, sharing scissors as they make Easter hats etc wall if at home they might go out to shops or local playground & have minimal contacts. Their explanations are complete BS which is why nobody believes them.

      • The argument has been made that closing the schools will leave the health system short of staff because parents will have to take time off work to care for their children. In that case, why not only allow the children of key workers to go to school, keep them in small groups, and let the teachers supervise them.

  2. If he shuts schools, the nurses will have to stay home and look after them instead of going to work. So he will then have to shut hospitals as well.

    It’s not like the old days, when only spinsters worked as nurses until they managed to get married…. we’ve been running things much harder and faster than that. Hooray female workforce participation/liberation. Capital thanks and and salutes you.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      The opening or closing of schools is part of a significant ideological battle being waged between..…..

      1 – every state health department in the country, almost all medicos, and, until yesterday, every state premier – who want to close schools


      2 – SmoCo’s bunker, and sundry others appointed directly from the bunker – who want to keep the schools open because of the impact it has on ‘working families’ (those where both parents work, which SmoCo’s office thinks tend to vote LNP, especially at the upper range, [both parents professional or earning well])

      I was told by a senior Vic public servant on Saturday school closures would be announced today.  Coronavirus Dan and the other state premiers have been on the front foot all of last week warning about the need to close schools.  Yet today the mainstream media is awash with articles touting the downsides of closing schools, and even Dan is now babbling about ‘conflicting advice’.

      There is a fair bit of spin being worked into things here.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Yes this,…they want to put off, for as long as possible, having to provide direct stimulus/welfare to the plebs.
        Yet Even the most dole bludger hating, 2GB loving, LNP voting, tough love [email protected] boomers will demanding helicopter money soon.
        Once 100s are dying per day and family incomes stop coming in, the demands for financial support will be deafening.
        Them trying to stick to their Neoliberal ideology will destroy them.

      • See gunna’s post above.

        “Nurses” were a shorthand. The longhand is that each teacher keeps ~20 kids occupied each day and therefore ~40 adults (being parents) in other work each day.

        Shutting schools means taking out a lot of workers from all industries. Many of them WILL be nurses.

    • Can’t we follow Belgium – schools”close” but for health workers they have staff to be an effective “day care”. Ok it’s not perfect isolation but it will dramatically reduce numbers even when Aussies game the system and claim they are health care workers. Many would follow “policy” and keep their kids at home so it has to be better than the current scenario? Agree it would be better if Gov also paid some sort of UBI to contract workers or others to stop them soldiering on.

      • Right, so if you are one of the unlucky ones that can help the country, your kids get to go and contract a virus with other nurses’ kids.. But if you are anyone else that is effectively useless in this scenario, hooray! You get to keep your kids safe and spend time with family.

        • As opposed to now where the “unlucky” kids get to hang out with many times more other kids? Agree it is not great but isn’t it better to have say 70 kids at school rather than 1,000 – even if you were one of the 70 your odds are better and maybe it would give you time to prepare/sort things out if you are lucky enough to have a spouse who can WFH, family, etc who can help.

    • Reverse Transcriptase

      Actually, tons of female Drs too (F > M in med school numbers for last 15 years). But, yes bloke can stay or other female half if SSM/DATY.

      More generally, as noted by several, insane house prices and FVCKED up financialised lives we are forced to live courtesy of unmitigated credit and immigration mean both parents usually occupied up to 14 hours a day.

      I do hope a better life emerges from the ashes of all of this.

      • My thoughts 100%.

        This has shone a light on a wide breadth of dis functional aspects of society. I wouldn’t hold my breath though for change, I think you’ll see double down double down.

        The supposed health guy sitting there like a an obedient lap dog on insiders yesterday, always catching a sideward glance to make sure he wasn’t saying anything to upset his handlers ,that Hunt chap. that says it all really

    • A smaller number of children will need care, than are required to go to school.

      For those essential workers that have no other options (for example, many 8 year olds have 12 year old siblings who could be charged with them in a pinch), creches can be opened. Others whose presence isn’t essential on site can work from home and mind their kids there. This is the work NYC is doing right now. Figuring out how many emergency creches are needed, etc., because THEY are closing schools.

      If NYC can do it, surely Sydney can do it.

  3. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    We got an email from my kids school telling them not to go to the usual Monday morning assembly and instead go straight to their classrooms.

    The wife and I are thinking of pulling our kids out of school this week.
    Nanny and poppy still want to come over for the daughters 12th birthday family dinner this week.
    Don’t know if we should tell them not to come.

    • Mum suggested she not fly from Melb to our eldest’s 5th birthday end April. I said good idea, as she’s in a risk group anyway, with underlying issues.

      I’ve cancelled flying down to brother’s 40th end May, he should probably cancel it anyway being a firie and wife/friends in health sector.

      Be interesting to see how this plays out at regional tourist places at holiday time that are easy driving distance (think: 1 tank fuel) from major areas: Noosa, Fraser Coast, Port Douglas, Byron, etcetc

    • My other half’s birthday this weekend, family gathering booked. One set of oldies pulled the pin on account of health complications and another family pulled out having all fallen ill – the mum has been tested for C-19 after one of her work colleagues was confirmed. Just canned the whole event It’s sh*t but what can you do. Both my parents have almost zero chance of surviving if they get it given health complications – I’m sure they must be terrified, deep down, despite appearing upbeat.

      • My mum, rather bizarrely, is telling me I am panicking (not the case), and also pulling the “not the flu” canard whilst simulatenously doing some mad prepping and sending me links to non evidence based homeopathic charlatanry-herb stuff to ward it all off. (Drinking hot water every 30 mins to watch the virus into the gut?!).

        Hard to reconcile!

        • That’s actually quite funny.

          On a similar note, I have a relative (not blood) who thinks that drinking chilled water gives you cancer. So, when she comes round and wants a glass of water, I have to boil the kettle and mix tap and kettle water in a glass so that she has warm water to drink. Fcken oath.

    • We’ve pulled our 6yo out of school – they will be closed by the end of the week anyway.
      Switzerland had 250 cases and a week later 1,300 – schools now closed.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      We pulled the boy out. Only two weeks before holidays so nothing to worry about except a child’s boredom. Been discussing Rosa Parks and Mary Reibey. Googling and discussing things we both didn’t know. It’s fun.

  4. “Keeping schools open means children may infect each other. The theory is that these infections will be very mild and that once infected, the children will be immune.”
    What an awesome plan, because clearly children can only “infect each other” and will not infect anyone over the age of 18.
    No one could really be this stupid and be in a position of power could they? It has to be spin to sell no closures for economic reasons.

    • Mum: “oh when you were kids, when we heard someone’s kid had chicken pox we rushed you around there and made sure you caught it!”

      Super awesome

      Note: didn’t work, got it at 21 and it was literally the worst thing I’ve ever experienced

      • I think your mum was half right in that you want to have c pox as a kid cos its horrific as an adult.

        But the strategy requires that all the adults in question HAVE ALREADY HAD IT when they were kids themselves, so doesn’t matter if their kids get it.

        • bolstroodMEMBER

          Same for Mumps.
          When my older brother caught them when we were kids me and my younger bro were put in his bed with him to ensure we caught them.
          But… this is different

      • I guess it depends on what you mean by immune. some diseases like measles/chicken pox and the like you tend to develop long term immunity to. Others you only get short term resistance, ie cold/flu. Possibly some you don’t get any at all? I am not a Doctor.

        • darklydrawlMEMBER

          Thanks. That is my understanding too (not a doctor either). I haven’t read anything yet that says you get immunity. Seems like a risky move to rely on assuming we do get immune. Mind you, everything these idiots have done as been a risky move. Sigh….

          • Reverse Transcriptase

            This article (if link permitted by MB) as of 5 March is pretty threadbare on COVID19 immunity, but references the SARS1 and MERS experience where long term (years) potential immune function was demonstrated. I say ‘potential’, as a viable mechanism was identified, but evidence of efficacy was not referenced in this article.


            CD4+ and CD8+ memory T cells can persist for four years in a part of SARS-CoV recovered individuals and can perform T cell proliferation, DTH response and production of IFN-γ [. Six years after SARS-CoV infection, specific T-cell memory responses to the SARS-CoV S peptide library could still be identified in 14 of 23 recovered SARS patients

            To avoid confusion:
            SARS-CoV = 2003 SARS
            SARS2-COVID19 = current virus

          • Chinese study showed 65% of people had neutralizing antibody and they were counting people who hadn’t even recovered. As a microbiologist I would expect 95% immunity from infection. The antivirals complicate things though, which is why it redevelopeds in some people after the drugs wear off.

          • bolstroodMEMBER

            The Corona virus is of the same family of virus’s as the common cold and flu, so I doubt the immunity thingy.
            I am not a medical person.

      • there is almost no virus that causes acute cytolytic infection where body doesn’t develop some immunity (permanent, long term or temporary)
        this corona is likely to give temporary immunity similar to other coronaviruses
        that said, even temporary immunity would be good because it would limit number of people who can get infected and spread virus at any time and. Also, that temporary immunity could be enough until vaccines get developed.

        Main point here is that we don’t know enough to say which approach is better. When chinese government got hit, quarantine was the only sensible approach because they didn’t have any idea about mortality, etc
        At the end, in a year or few we may discover that this or that approach could have been better.

        • The only flaw to this logic, is by the time a significant number of the population is immune, it doesn’t really matter anymore because a significant number of the population already has it, and can spread it to the remainder who aren’t immune.

        • Coronavirus has low mutation rate. A single point mutation every 2nd infection on average. Its only in bats where multiple strains circulate that genetic recombination occurs, just like Influnza and waterbirds. Fortunately diseases rarely jumps from bats to humans, unlike flu which spreads to domestic poultry.

      • In contrast, I’ve read that somewhere in Asia (Japan? Taiwan?) they’re seeing re-infections.

        So if anything, there may be evidence to the complete contrary. It’s likely more like a cold (you can even get those multiple times a season) than like chicken pox.

  5. The hysteria here is off the charts.
    I wish they would mention with these corona deaths, all the other illnesses the person also had that likely also contributed.
    This will be over in 6 mths, and people will still be getting up having hot showers etc, and getting on with life one way or another.

        • darklydrawlMEMBER

          Because the end result is it is not just the elderly. In Iran and Italy they have been (unexpectely) swamped with previously healthy 40 year olds. This has resulted in the ER / ICU teams have to make some war time like triage calls on who has the best chance to survive (and will be treated with the limited resources) and whom will fend for themselves (good luck with that).

          There is also the secondary impact on folks who just get regular unwell and/or trauma (say car crash victims). These folks are also triaged and if you’re messed up pretty bad from a motor vehicle accident they may have little choice but to let you die. You won’t be an offical Covid victim, but you are dead as a result none the less.

          Please don’t be complacent – this is the real deal and many folks are going to die.

          • The numbers of severe cases that require O2 in the 20-60 group is significant. Its just that they are unlikely to suffer the comorbidities that kill you, like heart disease.

        • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

          Once the hospitals become overloaded who do you think is going to be looking after elderly family members?
          I had to quit my well paying job as a Forman when my dads emphysema got really bad as they wouldn’t give me any more time off.
          Our countries death rate is about to be quadrupled (at least) so even if it is “only old people” the economy is going to be fked.
          And a lot of people who don’t die are still going to be fked up worse than they have ever been for weeks if not months.
          Your way of the mark pal.

    • I was going to mention typical flu season + normal A&E/trauma/etc + this and flattening of the curve and lack of ICU beds and 200% hospital loading but then I realised I didn’t need to

    • Someone ElseMEMBER

      Google video of babies dying from whooping cough. I have an ex who is PTSD’d off the charts because if a small outbreak. Threw in paediatrics to become a gp because of it.

      Watching the slow, laboured, torturous, death of someone, especially a loved one, is not easy for most people to just get over.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      It’ll be over in 6 months if we keep it contained. Going the Boris Johnson ‘let’s get everyone infected’ herd immunity mentality, it’ll be 600k deaths in Australia.

  6. MaryleboneMEMBER

    All schools closed as of tomorrow. Term 1 finishes today. Australia-wide. Mate works at Dept of Education seen a letter from Greg Hunt being circulated.

      • MaryleboneMEMBER

        The letter just mentions primary and secondary aged students.

        Been sent to all department leaders, but rumour now that it might be a fake! Career-limiting move I’d say to be the person moving it about. Mental.

        • darklydrawlMEMBER

          Keep us posted. This is huge news if true – albeit not unexpected. It is only a matter of time after all.

          If it is fake, I wouldn’t like to be the one explaining that to my boss.

          • MaryleboneMEMBER

            Greg Hunt just confirmed on Twitter that it is a fake. (Maybe Angus Taylor forged it…).

            Closures can’t be far away though.

          • darklydrawlMEMBER

            Thanks Marylebone. As you say. It will happen. Which is why they should just bloody do it. But you know…. Dithering is the Aussie way these days.

    • Anyone who hasn’t stocked up better get up the shops. Once this announcement comes out your shopping experience may be downgraded from Planet of the Apes to Mad Max.

      • The Hobbit proudly sits on its couch, behind which is a stash of 90 bottles of water, juice, and soft drinks; 12 tins of baked beans; 100 tins of beetroot/corn/beans/peas, 70 individual snack bags of salty treats, 24 packaged noodle or rice dinners, 60 tins of flavoured tuna, 4 bags of pasta, and four 1kg bags of rice. I’m just worried about Gollum considering any of it “My Precious” and trying to nab it. Soap and cleaning supplies are under the bed.

        I’m ready to be in for four months, if that’s what it takes. My usual emergency stash for decades has been a 2-month supply. I’ve doubled the stockpile for this.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      This is what I was told.

      That SmoCo would make an address circa lunchtime. That CoronaDan Andrews (for Victoria) would close schools this eve for indeterminate period, and kids would take home books and Ipads etc

  7. My kids home today.
    What’s the excuse for not closing universities? Do university students need baby sitting too?
    The lack of logic coming from our leaders and reproduced in media is appalling. Speak to the Italians!

  8. Politicians seem to think that by uttering the “herd immunity” incantation all will be well.

    Unfortunately, this is not Harry Potter and politicians are, of course, still idiots.

  9. Isn’t it interesting that something as predictable as a virus Pandemic (100% going to happen sooner or later ) requires us to develop ad-hoc policies. Surely there are medical experts that have though of all these contingency issues and developed a plan which is possible to carry out.
    Instead we see plans proposed that don’t appear to have been given one moments thought, I guess we are all used to seeing this with our Political processes I guess I just hoped that our Medical/Health processes would be just a little more robust but it looks like I was wrong.

    • Like the guy in the Joe Rogan interview who rightly said that we invest large amounts of resources in other endeavours to be prepared (think fire fighting, military) ahead of times when it is needed, but for public health there is no willingness, despite the potential for greater levels of catastrophe.

  10. Honestly, if you were a doc or nurse, wouldn’t you just not turn up? Especially if you dont have debt… you know, free country. Not like we are communist and can tell people to do something, need to pay fair wage for whats in demand.
    I’d need a maaaassive pay rise to acquire the PTSD that they are about to.

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