As Australia opens schools, the model Singapore shuts ’em

Victoria is reopening schools, ay News:

Term two in Victoria will start next Wednesday but Premier Daniel Andrews is urging parents to keep their children at home if possible.

“School is going to look very different in term two – if you can learn from home, you must learn from home,” Mr Andrews said.

“If you can’t learn from home, then schools will be open, and we will run the same courses. We don’t want kids disadvantaged because of circumstances beyond their own control.”

Mr Andrews says schools will always be open for children of essential workers – from shelf stackers at Coles and Woolies to nurses and police.

“We’ve got about a million students enrolled in government and non-government schools,” he said. “We cannot have a million students moving around the Victorian community every day. All that will do is spread the virus and undermine the really significant progress that we’ve made.”

So don’t re-open them then. Cripes.

Of course, it took bloody weeks of campaigning to close them, as the SloMo Government insisted on following what Singapore had done. Well, guess what? Via Bloomie:

Singapore defended its decision not to close its schools earlier as the Southeast Asian country gets ready to implement “circuit breaker” measures this week to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

It was the “correct” decision to leave them open as young people don’t seem to be as affected by the virus as adults, while there is no evidence they are vectors of transmission, the city-state’s education minister Ong Ye Kung said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

From tomorrow, Singapore will shutter its schools as the city-state moves to full home-based learning. It was one of a handful of countries that had resisted doing so, citing early research that children are not as affected as adults, even when more than 160 countries had already shut their schools.

Herein lies the problem of the “hammer and dance”:

If you don’t deliver sufficient hammer then the dance must go on and on and on. Especially so for Australia as we enter Winter when we risk a hefty case spike and reversion to total shutdown.

Singapore has only 20% of our case number right now and it has opted to intensify the hammer instead. Sensible.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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Comments

      • Given the lack of knowledge about the virus, I’d say we don’t know how much of a dance is required to get the much discussed R0 under 1.0. Is handwashing, masks, social distancing and targeted testing enough? It might be, we don’t know.

      • I was always for reasonable measures that are almost as effective as hard lockdowns but don’t cost even a fraction

  1. Not just the schools, everything is shut for a month here in SG as of today, to bring down the rate of infection. Could be a Sisyphean task, only time will tell…

  2. haimona12MEMBER

    So many seem to have forgotten that exactly 2 weeks ago Vic and NSW put the hammer down, due to lack of action from Ozgov. We are now seeing the benefits in the form of a reduction in the rate of growth in cases. But have we used this time to gear up for the dance? Doesn’t seem like it. A 3 day delay in putting in the hammer results in a 2-3 week extension in the duration of the hammer phase and delay to the dance phase. The economic and social cost of the dance is still big compared with BAU but much less than the hammer. So the economic cost of the Ozgov’s delay in using the hammer is massive. It doesn’t look economically prudent to me. OZgov has so far refused to release the scientific modelling and hence the economic rationale and statutory basis for its decision making.

  3. Interesting proposal at the mandarin.com.au which suggests it would be better to quarantine the over 65s. What the current strategy aims to do is match the number of cases requiring ICU treatment with the resources available – flattening the curve. But as it’s mostly over 65s who need the ICU beds, quarantine THEM at home. Give them $2000 to buy some exercise equipment, make sure they can have food delivered. People under 65 who are sharing a house with oldies can get $1500 per week to either stay or move out. After this is in place – 4 weeks – everyone else goes back to normal. The virus will work its way through the population – some will need ICU but not more than the system can cope with. The over 65s will be let out once there is ‘herd immunity’ in the community, or a vaccine is available, or a cure invented.

      • Younger people with health issues that may need ICU treatment are not a very large number of those needing those ICU resources – the great majority are the over 65s. The health system can cope with those younger people. The proposal lets the economy function as normal while the over 65s are home-quarantined, and the rest of the population gets and recovers from the virus. Then, once we have ‘herd immunity’ or a cure/vaccine, the old people, mostly pensioners or self-funded, are released. Because of the herd immunity they won’t all get the virus immediately – their curve will be flattened. You could even release them in stages, by age, to flatten the curve some more.

  4. “A long-term strategy to ease ­social-isolation restrictions and expose Australians to COVID-19 in manageable doses, without overwhelming the public health system, is being considered by the country’s chief health officials and some NSW government ministers.

    As infection rates continue to fall across the country, The Australian has learned suppression strategies may eventually be eased — if only slightly, and in a staggered form — as part of an ­effort to expose healthy Australians to the disease to lift immunity rates.

    A senior NSW health official told The Australian that controlling the spread of contagion ­remained an absolute priority to prevent hospitals and intensive care units being overrun by ­patients, particularly during the Easter holiday period.

    But eventually increasing ­levels of community immunity through exposure to the virus could provide an answer for ­society to return to a state of ­normalcy, particularly given the uncertainty about when or if a vaccine can be developed for COVID-19. “People have to get sick for this to pass,” said a senior government MP.”

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/coronavirus-plan-to-let-covid19-infect-us-slowly/news-story/7a459ae042dfe3316ba42055dc4e5b99

    I nominate we start with this “senior government MP” and his/her family. We should trial the herd immunity experiment on the political class.