Alert! Quarantine system can’t handle international students return

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s call to open Australia to international students and skilled migrants has been shut down by reality, with minutes of a meeting between government officials and representatives of security firms showing NSW’s hotel quarantine system is at breaking point:

The NSW hotel quarantine scheme has been beset with thousands of incidents, with 169 security guards sacked and at least four overseas arrivals absconding from facilities, confidential government operational updates show.

Minutes of an October 30 meeting between NSW government officials and security company representatives also show a looming crisis in the quarantine program with contractors warning they are unable to reliably extend beyond 820 daily deployments.

As Gladys Berejiklian pushes to expand the quarantine scheme to international students and other migrants, documents show NSW Police predicting that 1200 deployments per day may be needed.

“There could be more than 60,000 commencing students with the potential to travel to NSW for Semester 1, 2021,” the document, partly an operational update given by Department of Premier and Cabinet associate director Shane Brady and obtained by The Australian, notes…

“Key learnings and operational indicators suggest that the current security guard force is limited and extending beyond 820 deployment per day is unreliable,” the ­update reads…

The NSW hotel quarantine scheme has, to the end of October, cost $345m, with other states and territories expected to contribute about 38 per cent of that amount…

I’ll be the first to admit that NSW has done a stellar job in managing the virus. It has taken in 56% of Australia’s international arrivals without a significant hotel quarantine breach. And because of the state’s sound contact tracing system, NSW remained open throughout winter despite gaining a significant number of infections from Victoria’s second wave.

That said, opening Australia to international students and migrants when there are still 36,000 Australians waiting in the queue to return home is an obvious betrayal of the obligations of government. Not only should returning Australians take priority, but NSW’s hotel quarantine system is clearly stretched to the limit and cannot safely accept any more arrivals.

Doing so would place the entire nation at risk of a damaging third virus wave, all so a handful of university vice-chancellors and business CEOs can earn fatter paychecks.

No thanks.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Qantas says only those who are vaccinated can fly on their plane, shouldn’t that be the same for international students?

    On a side note, does that means Qantas will no longer fly to the US?

    • Yeah it’s the funny bit isn’t it. If that’s the case, then I want to see Scummo petition for India and China get the vaccine first so they can come here! Because it sure aint in India’s best interest to put the student that is about to leave for 4 years and be someone else’s problem on the top of the queue.

      • The90kwbeastMEMBER

        Vaccine certificates will be falsified in both those countries in all of 10 seconds. Wouldn’t trust it at all. Anyone coming here should be vaccinated in Australia on arrival.

    • happy valleyMEMBER

      Gold standard Gladys – gold standard at what? I’ve switched off listening to her. DL-S has her pinned as “Gladys The Grub” off memory?

      • Maybe being in charge while the hotel quarantine programme worked because she used the police and not Diversity Security Company. Maybe having an intact, sufficiently resourced contact tracing unit. Maybe not overreacting and letting us live fairly normally despite the cases which came up from Victoria.
        She isn’t perfect but can you address what her failings are with regards the management of COVID in NSW?

        • happy valleyMEMBER

          She had a defining moment with the ruby princess debacle which seems all conveniently forgotten but nonetheless got her a gold standard and she probably learnt something out of that. However, the CMO now getting the Premier’s public servant award of the year makes the whole debacle almost laughable to me? As for Gladys’ performance on other fronts, that’s highly questionable/problematic to me.

    • These vaccines don’t stop you getting COVID they stop you getting sick from COVID. Vaccinated internationals will still spread it.

    • happy valleyMEMBER

      Wonder what the Qantas e-ticket fine print will disclaim about vaccining up in desperation to get on a Qantas flight?

      • You are one of the few voices on this blog critically questioning this COVID hysteria. My hat if off to you mate, please keep it up.

  2. Reckon they’ve all gone out to unis and told them “look, 2021 will be a lot better, we’ll get them back. This pandemic will be over”. Now the reality is really setting in that this virus might need them to change their ways forever. Each time this sh1t comes out, just goes to show how much upside they have factored in. I suspect there will be a lot more volatility in valuations than people have accounted for.

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      Agree. I think ‘forever’ (aka long-term) is a concept that is quite foreign to our movers and shakers. The idea that there is some long-term impact from this is like a cognitive blind spot for these people, they can’t even begin to imagine how to ‘do business’ without just doing more of the same. That said, I also think the more desperate they get the more they will push to do things that cause enough outbreaks across the country that we are forced to ‘give in’ and go American style… which incidentally, will allow them to re-open the floodgates of cheap labour (whatever guise or name it comes under) back up.

  3. 300000 immigrants at $3000 quarantine per head can be quite nice income stream.
    All hotels would be fully booked for the next 6 months

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      This. No matter how much propaganda and smearing of people asking questions as ‘anti vaxxers’ they push, the reality is there is no way any vaccine can be tested properly in the space of 6 months or a year. Basic research (pre-covid, when there was no interest in pretending a safe vaccine was possible this fast) tells this clearly. It doesn’t matter how much they spend, time is required to check for longer term consequences in the human body. Lobbyists with an interest in going back to business-as-usual (at any cost to the rest of us) and their media lackeys are not acceptable evidence of this vaccine being effective nor safe.

      • I can just see it. Eventually after giving it a thorough promotion someone will tell Scotty that the public’s opposition is spreading to all vaccines and a long term health crisis. He won’t have seen this coming or heard the noise over his own voice but from one day to the next he’ll drop support for a vaccine.

  4. Local quarantine has been generally successful because local and returning Australians for the most part understand and care about doing the right thing. Replace that with slum dwelling mysogenistic unwashed sub continent scammers and see how quickly things get out of control as they have no sense of loyalty to this community.

    • Yeah those failures show NSW has been favored by lady luck so far, but as we all know, eventually your luck runs out cos lady luck is fickle indeed (kinda like Chinese consumers)

  5. “I’ll be the first to admit that NSW has done a stellar job in managing the virus”

    I’ll second that, Lol 🙂

    I can only imagine the apoplectic nature of the comments had this proposal come from Dan, not Gladys.

    • I still think we are just lucky in NSW as guards were caught sleeping here too. But I could be wrong too as so far NSW strategy worked. Clearly NSW contact tracing must be working really good as when we had a spike, authorities managed to get things under control fast. For that Gladys deserves credit.
      I think we all collectively did good job during initial lockdowns and that helped a lot.

      • Yep, a bit of luck in it. Or bad luck in Vic’s case. SA now with similar quarantine issues. I’m pretty amazed at how well we all did too.

        Let’s hope the vaccines work as quarantine as a long term strategy seems pretty dicey the way it’s run.

    • Why wouldn’t they be apoplectic?. Dan is the guy who burnt down your house and then gets credit for making you rebuild it. It would be akin to him suggesting he now come around for a big open pit BBQ in the back yard as a house warming party.

  6. What I really don’t get is this:

    This is a treatment suggested from a highly respected Australian scientist that seems to work in many overseas countries now (not UK, US and Aus) and would have obviated the lock downs and perhaps the vast expenditure on Vaccines.

    So why the blanket silence from the MSM? Perhaps the latter point is the key to understanding this mystery – vast profits to the pharmaceutical companies, then vast profits to stock markets heralding the vaccine…..

      • I’m guessing you jumped in with that fatuous remark rather than bothering to listen/read the links.

        Turns out the countries that used Ivermectin have significantly lower death rates than eg the UK, US and France.

        Eg: deaths per million in Greece, which imported 5 tonnes of Chloroquine and made 24 million doses of HCQ in 30 hours, are 1/7th that of the US, France and UK (87/million as opposed to the US’s 750/ million)

        Egypt, also with a fraction of the deaths per million of the US, France and UK (62 versus over 750) has used Barody’s Ivermectin treatment, and trials there have shown extraordinary efficacy:-

        Out of 100 patients with mild-moderate Covid: 99 improved; 1 progressed; 1 died

        Out of 100 patients with severe Covid (hospitalised): 94 improved, 4 progressed, 2 died.

        The trials showed Ivermectin to be significantly more effective than HCQ, also that within six days the virus was cleared from the system with few side effects. It was also effective as a prophylactic among health care workers, again with few side effects.

        The trial didn’t include the mix of doxycyline, zinc and silenium of Professor Thomas Barody’s treatment plan, which significantly improves the outcome further.

        So I would simply ask again why has Australia and the MSM not investigated it? I’m not saying it’s proven without doubt, but why the silence? It seems from the evidence so far it should be investigated further, and that until a vaccine arrives, could maybe have prevented many deaths and much suffering.

        The Ivermectin treatment is readily available from any Australian GP. I have a script from mine who recommended it in the event the virus returns to OZ.

        So no, RobotSensei, not interested in your unicorn. Sticking with my GP script thanks.

        • Very well said and very good question too.
          A while ago (April, I think). I read an article wherein a Australian Lab tested Ivermectin In-Vitro against covid-19 causing virus. It found good success with single does in 48 Hrs.
          After this I did quick web research on Ivermectin. This medication came in to Medical use in 1981. This means this has been around for a long time. This medication is used for parasitic infections (like head lice). Mostly this is single does (and in some cases a second dose after several days) medicine, This comes in 6 and 12 mg. From quick web search, I found, Max price of a pack of two tablets, 12 mg, in India, online, to be INR 85 (AUD 1.60 Approx).

          I am an Australian. Came to India for visit on 28th Feb (supposed to return on 25th March). I am currently stuck in India due to international flight restrictions.

          • @m_l_narasimhan Yes, I’d read that too regarding Ivermectin used in vitro. I wonder have you heard if it is being used at all in India for Covid-19 treatment, which also has a low death rate per million compared to many other countries? Or do you have any answers as to why Indian death rates are so low compared to other countries with better access to medical resources?

            Wishing you a safe and speedy return home soon, cheers.

        • @drt15, I will answer it in two parts.

          First part is an interesting article I found,

          Second Part,

          From the beginning, my suspicion has been that the death rate in India will be very low, due to Indians, by nature, having high immunity level, especially for microbial diseases.
          There are many reasons (Historical, Natural, Nutritional, Demographical and pollution) for general immunity among Indians. I will not go deeper into these aspects.

          I think this can be applied, to an extant, to many developing nations This can also be applied to developed nations which have been in turmoil for at least a decade or more (Greece for example).

          Faced with consistent Adversity (in various forms), yet surviving, a populace, over a period of time, will grow natural resilience/immunity to various aspects of life. I think this is natural.

  7. My VC says this anti-international student sentiment is just due to xenophobia and the “Trump effect”.

      • Yep, I’ve stopped going to the stupid “VC updates” because it just gave me elevated blood pressure and I ended up feeling demotivated and discouraged. This is quite an achievement considering how much I enjoy my work.

  8. Shades of MessinaMEMBER

    Flights can and should be opened up to low risk countries like Tawian and Singapore where the virus has pretty much been eliminated. Minimal student flow from both those in any case.

    Won’t make a difference to propping up the sector but it’s a useful test case.

    • Everywhere considered ‘low risk’ will be challenged this northern hemisphere winter. Sth Korea and Japan are starting to have problems and there are new outbreaks in China.

      Now is the time to seal up tight.

      • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

        Singapore has no winter and Taiwan has not had a case for 200+ days.

        Why are we happy to use the scientific data as a reason to lockdown/tighten borders but ignore it going the other way.

        NZ had had non-quarantine flights to Australia for nearly a month now with zero issues and they have higher case loads than both Tawian and Singapore. Is it because they are in “Asia” ?!.

  9. I think you’re letting your own preference for a lower population cloud your thinking wrt Quarantine options.
    If the majority of these students are young and free to travel than why not look at quarantine options that would enable them to be isolated, from the rest of us yet at the same time enjoy Australia.
    Imagine if we had 2 week long Quarantine Bus/camping tours of the outback. All students could be tested when they arrived and tested mid way through and tested at the end . they’d spend two weeks touring somewhere remote like Cape York or the Kimberlies learn something about Australia and in the process put some cash in the pockets of regional Australians.
    There would be practically zero risk to the rest of us and who knows the students might even enjoy the trip.
    There are so many solutions if we just open our eyes but silly me, that wouldn’t suit your agenda…

    • Somehow I don’t think the indigenous people of those regions with complex health issues and compromised immune systems will want likely asymptomatic foreign virus carriers coming to visit. They kinda survived a horror sh1tshow like that a coupler of hundred years ago and rightly still remember thegrief and cultural devastation it caused. Should they risk all again for absolutely no benefit to themselves for some Indian and Nepalese students? I think not

      • From what I’ve seen of bus tours in remote parts of Australia the locals (Indigenous or other) don’t usually want to interact with tour groups. I’m pretty sure there’s enough room for each to have their own end of town especially if they knew that this was a “quarantine tour”

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      There’s a lot of resistance to sending people ‘outback’ because if they do get sick, they’ll upload pictures of themselves and their compatriots struggling to breathe and dying since there’s basically no medical assistance (of any consequence) nearby. It’s a little more complex than an alcohol-free and more v1brant version of a Contiki tour.

      • Please! Sure Covid19 can hit quickly 3 days to 4 days but in that case the tour operator is going to know that something is wrong and will have the capabilities in place to extract these infected individuals and restart the clock on the quarantine period for the rest.
        It’s not that difficult a problem especially if you have sufficient scale and we are talking about up to 100K students arriving over a 1 to 2 month period.

        • Yes, who wouldn’t want to do a medivac of a critically unwell, infectious patient from regional Australia in a small confined airplane cabin because we wanted to restart uni. Sign me up!

      • Yep much better idea to keep highly infectious individuals in the center of our largest cities where the population density is highest. that’s absolutely F’ing brilliant that plan….I can’t imagine anything ever going wrong with a plan like that

    • our indigenous communities don’t have the heridatary immune systems that white australians do, this is why those states with the highest numbers of these communities (QLD, WA, NT) went to hard lock-down so fast for for so long.

      And you’re proposing to take groups of travellers with a very high probability of infection, and bus them directly into our very most vulnerable populations. why not get them to staff some soup kitchens in nursing homes while they’re here ?

      At least you’re living up to your current moniker, only Rumsfield would either be that stupid or that evil.

      • You say this as if we are seeing very high numbers of infected individuals within our current Quarantine system.
        Hate to break it to you the infection rates are very low due largely to various presorting procedures.
        The infection rates for the second week are almost zero . So we could try a Hotel for one week and remote camping for week two with almost zero chance of student infections.
        As I said there are lots of options, if you’re actually interested in solving this problem.

        • I think you nailed it in your last sentence. It is not a problem for most of us that there are no overseas students arriving for the immediate future.

  10. As internal borders open up, I would expect some of those inner city hotels to leave the program and go back to chasing business and domestic tourist travelers, unless the government pays a more competitive rate. Potential here to decrease the number of places available in quarantine, as well as push quarantine to more suburban locations. Not that this is a good outcome

  11. That said, opening Australia to international students and migrants when there are still 36,000 Australians waiting in the queue to return home is an obvious betrayal of the obligations of government. Not only should returning Australians take priority, but NSW’s hotel quarantine system is clearly stretched to the limit and cannot safely accept any more arrivals.

    You mean like houses in Australia should be for Australian residents only? Or trade deals should benefit the local population not mega corporations that don’t pay much tax here? Or how we support local manufacturing by buying Australian made or contracting Australian companies to build I don’t know, trains, submarines? You know all that patriotic stuff our Government does?

    • Reus's largeMEMBER

      You can rightly assume that if there is a choice between money and doing the right thing by your fellow Australians then any pollie is going to choose money every time!

  12. These money uber alles types must hate being mugged by reality at every twist & turn. Not happy Gladys!

    Any bets on what they’ll drive her into pushing next?

  13. Chinese students are unlikely to return in any significant number and few other international students can afford the fees. Regardless of whether students can come to Australia the milk and honey days for university VCs are over, sadly ditto for many uni staff.

  14. Lucky Gladys isn’t called Diligence or Prudence or she might’ve checked this stuff out before firing her mouth off & reducing her credibility.
    Look over there….?