Melbourne virus spike shows why international students must be kept out

Last week we reported that international students would begin to be flown into Australia from July with Canberra and Adelaide to take the first plane loads. Other jurisdictions are expected to follow course over coming months with international students to be quarantined for two weeks, paid for in part by taxpayers.

MB has vigorously opposed this plan from the start on the following grounds:

  1. It would greatly increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 given widespread quarantine failures experienced to date;
  2. Taxpayers should not have to bear any of the costs; and
  3. It is unfair to bring in international students when Australians are not allowed to travel abroad nor freely travel interstate.

In short, Australians have sacrificed far too much, and endured draconian lockdowns at considerable personal and financial cost to get COVID-19 under control, only to risk that now for the international student trade.

Regarding the first point above on quarantine failures, Melbourne provides a valuable insight. Melbourne has hosted most international arrival quarantine. This quarantine has failed badly, driving the spike in COVID-19 currently being experienced across the city:

Concerns about Victoria’s handling of quarantine following COVID-19 outbreaks linked to two hotels had sparked the move within the federal government to divert repatriation flights away from Melbourne to other Australian cities…

Multiple federal government sources have confirmed concerns about the lack of expert medical personnel advising hotel workers, who have the task of delivering food and escorting guests without appropriate personal protective equipment…

The same private security firm oversees quarantine arrangements at both the Stamford Plaza and Rydges hotels where infected staff members have spread the virus to close contacts and contributed to family outbreaks that forced the Victorian government to reintroduce restrictions…

A senior federal government source said hotel staff had no training in the use of PPE and “would wear the same mask and gloves for hours”, while no medical waste bins were provided in the initial weeks of hotel quarantine…

Health Minister Greg Hunt told the ABC on Tuesday morning that the hotel quarantine system was the nation’s “defence against importing cases from around the world”…

Non-English speaking (NES) migrants also appear to be behind many of the outbreaks:

The six core local government areas affected by the surge in coronavirus cases contain significant numbers of people who speak Englis­h as a second language.

Languages include Arabic, Punjabi, Vietnamese and Chinese and health officials are desperately trying to get the messages through to these groups.

…the culturally and linguistically diverse community meant many people didn’t understand the government’s advice on social distancing.

The risks of further outbreaks will obviously multiply with thousands of NES background international students arriving.

Australia’s international border must remain closed to all but returning citizens and permanent residents. No exceptions.

Leith van Onselen

Comments

    • innocent bystanderMEMBER

      yep.
      cause it will behave like the flu even tho it isn’t like the flu.
      on the other hand other countries in the southern hemisphere (ie winterish) are in big trouble, so maybe it is a combo of winter and being poor(er) – not in cosy Oz homes.

        • innocent bystanderMEMBER

          yep, but the rabbit proof fence is keeping covid at bay … so far.
          oh, maybe that is why Melb is in trouble? Vit D!

          Of the major cities, Perth is the sunniest (3,200 hours annually) and Melbourne is the least sunny (2,200 hours annually).

  1. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    Oh yeah, they don’t ‘understand’ government advice. I mean it’s not like they mostly spend their days watching internet media and talking online to people in their country of origin where the same virus is at play. I guess some people are harder to blame for being lazy or careless than others. Better to find a way to make it someone else’s fault in their case.

    Btw noticed this morning many of the New Australians collecting their food parcels from Anglicare were driving (old) BMWs. Good to see everyone has their priorities straight.

  2. kiwikarynMEMBER

    You only need to look to NZ to realise how easy it is to cock up the border quarantine. Here the Govt has been letting people out of doing quarantine on “compassionate grounds” without even bothering to test them before they leave. We’ve potentially had international travellers wandering around with covid for weeks, all the while reporting no new cases. Of course, as Trump said, if you don’t test you dont get cases.

    • You only need to look to NZ to realise how impossible is to protect a country from such virus with any kind of border quarantine.

      the only way to gt over this virus is to get population build immunity. If we think vaccine will work it may make a sense to suppress the virus until at very high cost (this is political decision not health decision).

      otherwise, if we think vaccine will be late or there will be no vaccine it’s not only meaningless but also damaging to wait

      • kiwikarynMEMBER

        Well, no. If they actually insisted on everyone doing 14 days quarantine, and required a negative test result before being allowed to leave, it would work perfectly. Its the incompetence of Govt bureaucrats who cant be trusted to get something so simple right.

        • 2% of people have incubation period longer than 14 days so on every 100 people who get infected on the way over 2 would slip through the quarantine. even making quarantine 28 days as some countries did in Europe would not work because eventually someone would import the virus in other ways … airplane or ship crews, contaminated frozen food, …

      • DrX are you aware of the immunity retention research? A couple of weeks for most, for the worst hit a couple of months. No lasting immunity. It’s an unnatural and novel virus.

        • And the new mutation in Europe and the US which increases by a factor of 4-5 the infectivity of SARS Cov2 apparently means that any immunity built up from earlier infections is null and void which explains why BJ has reacted the way it has to the latest outbreak there.

          • Yes you are so right, early on Taleb said it could be an extinction level event.
            Zinc inhibits virus replication, Vit C, Vit D and super K to prevent Vit D excess causing calcification of arteries,
            It’s damn irritating, russia is putting out a vaccine, maybe they cracked it, They made a vaccine for Ebola. Mopping up evil.

  3. So our pool and gym reopened on Monday on the outskirts of Melb. The amount of cleaning we are doing is insane. As a lifeguard I have 15 mins to disinfect all high frequency touch points after each session (45 mins or 60 mins) before the next lot of people who have booked come in. The amount of cleaning product our centre is going through is nuts. One person who isn’t on the cleaning staff went through 1.25l of spray and wipe disinfectant on day 1. I’m the only staff member wearing a mask as far as I am aware. I haven’t seen anyone entering the centre wearing a mask. I hate wearing them but it is the only way I can return to work from a mental health perspective. Plus if I wear a mask I am not stressing about catching the virus (with the current low patronage numbers) and that means I can actually focus on the pool and making sure no one is drowning, having a heart attach/stoke/fainting etc. Everyone seems pretty happy to be back in the pool though which is great to see. We have not yet reached capacity, which is 20 people in each of the two pool areas we have reopened. We only have 2 life guards on when we would usually have 5 as a minimum once all areas opened up, so there is not as much work as usual available. It is good to see special needs people, the elderly and people with rehab needs using the hydrotherapy facilities again, and also great yesterday to see some parents with their kids making sure they were continuing with their swimming.

    Edit: should be in reply to Grammus above

  4. Display NameMEMBER

    “The risks of further outbreaks will obviously multiply with thousands of NES international students arriving.”

    How do we have Non English speaking students in Unis where all tuition is in English ?

    • Certain universities run tuorials in Mandarin when all the students are Chinese. This is especially the case in business courses that are 80%+ Chinese international students.

  5. Why does it matter? There is no indicator which demonstrates whether things are getting better or worse in the real world. Whether international students come in and nothing happens, or they come in and the virus spreads out of control, or anything else, there is no data point which will show that the fact impacts upon anything else. If anything does worsen, rest assured, it will soon be back to normal. Everything has been taken care of. So don’t worry and don’t complain.

  6. I’ve pretty much given up. Our leaders in politics, the law and industry are corrupt psychos, nutters, sexual degenerates etc who want to fcuk us all over so that they can line their pockets, get their genitals stroked or whatever. Our “democracy” means that we can’t change this, so we just need to accept it for what it is and try to figure out ways to keep our heads above water given the circumstances.

    Personally, I’d like to bolt to another country but I just can’t see too many options that are better. The corruption seems universal.

      • Yeah. The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy espoused the idea that anybody who wants political power should never be allowed to have it, because the simple fact of wanting it indicates that you are a dangerous psycho. I totally agree, and the succession of weird loonies who have been destroying our country for us (Scomo, Abbott, Turnbull, Rudd et al) indicates the truth of it.

        I so wish we could have greater direct democracy because the current system is clearly set up to disempower the people while providing a meaningless illusion of control. Our “representatives” represent nothing but their own interests in lining their pockets.

        • UpperWestsideMEMBER

          Lets just limit the % lawyers in Govt as a way to skew to people with real world skills.

          Oh and … having some actual skills in something other than the law

  7. So you have to speak English as a first language to understand the spread of the virus? No wonder the other states have an issue with Victoria. You reap what you sow….

  8. To me, most of the infections/risks originate in some form from government “special conditions”. Witness hotels/workers, Kerry Stokes, “pilot” international students, AFL etc. Of course, the spin will be to deflect away from this to focus on Joe Citizen.

  9. Excellent. this virus is completely exposing all the gaps in our system that are so cherished by the rent-seekers, the “vibrancy is great” and your usual lazy a$$ “near enough is good enough” lot. What do they all have in common? All done to privatise the gains and inflict losses on the rest of us.
    Guess what decades of “vibrancy is great” gets you? A whole swathe of the community that cannot speak English and therefore makes getting a public health message out that much harder, shutting your entire economy down. Racist? Just logistics, now pay for the private gains earned by shutting the economy down.
    Guess what decades of “near enough is good enough” attitude with all aspects of management gets you? An inability to deal with a virus that needs a very strict discipline in eradicating it.
    Guess what decades of rent seeking gets you when the virus demands you actually earn money instead of land banking on a dog box? You are left with holding the dog-turd bag of debt.
    I am growing fonder and fonder of this virus as time passes, off course “it may kill you or people you love” aside..

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        I know what yous mean. The most innovative and successful organisations are always the ones stacked top to bottom with compliant yes-men with nary and independent thought amongst them, let alone the initiative to speak up about it.

        The nail that stands up is the nail that must be hammered down !

        • No, I’m not talking about singularity of thought, I’m talking about some basic ability to assimilate in another country. You can have everyone speak a language but have different opinions.
          The real issue here is, if the speed of immigration was actually slower, you would have a natural assimilation because the population would need to make an effort to integrate with the country they arrive at. E.g. if you were the only English speaking person in a 100km radius, you’ll make an effort to learn the local language. Now, get several hundred thousand English people in a year, and why would you bother?

          • I am GrootMEMBER

            Spot on. Cries of racism and xenophobia are largely a diversion tactic. As you allude to, the problem is not so much the immigration itself as the rate of that immigration. Ironically, it is this that that often fosters a degree of animosity towards the immigrants themselves rather than any inherent sense of racial superiority.

            What is labelled racism often isn’t, and it seems to me that most uses of the word these days betray a misunderstanding of what it actually is.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            I guarantee you can find people who were born here, even for generations, with views and beliefs are at least as “diverse” as those held by immigrants. And vice versa.

            Switzerland is a country with four official languages, plus near universal English, *and* a substantial immigrant presence. The locals don’t struggle with their Swiss identity.

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