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Posted March 10 into House keeping by John Birmingham

I've been back in the country for a couple of weeks and working on a long post – "What I did on my holidays". Turns out mostly what I did was avoid catching the coronavirus. I was actually in Milan about a week before everything blew up. The city was crowded, busy, pumping. Even though the weather was cold, grey and drizzly. It's odd to imagine the streets empty and most of the businesses shuttered just a short time later.

And now of course the whole country is in lockdown. I imagine it won't be long before the rest of Europe is the same. And here too.

I've been pondering my current audiobook series – the Zero Day books – and wondering whether I should ramp up the background plague. Probably. On the other hand I'm also going to talk to Jason Lambright about doing a quick pandemic series. Something based on the reality of COVID 19, but fictional.

In the meantime I'm waiting for the hammer to fall. I have jujitsu tonight, and I don't think it'll be long before the health authorities shut us down. Gyms too. And bars, and restaurants, and public gatherings and the rest of it. A lot of businesses are going to go under in the next 3 to 6 months, and they're going to take a lot of people with them.

I think the virus will spread just as widely here as everywhere else, but it probably at a slower rate. Australia has an incredibly powerful Quarantine Act which hands a lot of the decision-making in these sorts of crises to medical professionals. Politicians get cut out of the loop. The Chief Medical Officers of the states and territories and the Commonwealth are teleconferencing a couple of times a week. Possibly every day. Managing the medical issues. It's up to the government to look after the economy.

(Spoiler: The economy is probably doomed.)

But the power given to the medicos means that all things being equal, the rate of infection will be slower here than it is in many other places, meaning that the health system can hopefully absorb the ever increasing number of patients.

For now, I'm just trying to get in as many gym visits as I can. I, er, put on a little bit of pastry and pasta weight while I was away.

11 Responses to ‘Back home’

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted March 11
I have heard during a pandemic that one of the first things we run out of is books, so I urge everyone to go out and stock up on books perhaps an uncompleted trilogy about the end of the world might be a good idea.

At the media press-conferences, I wish they would just let the Medico's speak rather than having politicians mugs popping up and trying to parse the advice of the Chief Health Officers.

Though it has been worth it to see the expression on the medicos faces at the pressers when Donald Trump says something and they realise they will need to speak up afterwards and explain how wrong what he just said was.

Naut puts forth...

Posted March 11
And books can double as toilet paper if things get really desperate.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 11
How about a Kindle?

Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted March 12
Not sure I want to wipe my arse with a kindle....

Speaking of uncompleted about a girl and a bloke travelling through time....or a superpowered anti hero fighting demons...perhaps an epic space opera with splodeyness etc.? No pressure of course!

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted March 11
I think this mob here in Oz have an ideological blind spot on the main issue - both in terms of how to avoid and how to mitigate- of a recession. They will do anything to avoid doing what Labor did in 2008, giving cash money directly to people through the welfare and tax systems. So they will call it economic stimulus and hand it to businesses.

I reckon that this will result in businesses banking it, handing it to shareholders and/or ensuring that their senior managers continue to be well remunerated. I strongly doubt that it will result in the maintenance of many jobs- which is the purpose of a stimulus package. Recessions hurt ordinary people- those who earn wages and salaries. Many of the people who lose their jobs in a recession will never be able to return to their preferred industry.

I also strongly doubt that the a lot of people in the current Government realise that some victims of a recession will never work again.

This might be slightly off topic, but I've wanted to get this off my chest for the past week or so.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted March 11
I think its a pretty good call. The millions of people forced into casual and gig work with no sick pay or leave benefits the last ten years has created a massive vulnerability in both economic and epidemiological terms. They can't afford to stop working for weeks at a time and their inability to take time off creates a huge population of potential carriers.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted March 16
i have a mate in the music industry - doing BOH work. Pretty much that whole area is screwed. He said gigs were put on for free during the whole bushfire crisis to help raise money and it was all done with no complaints (because they are human) but he is waiting to see what happens to that industry after this (he suspects SFA). He said he still has his van and can adapt to short term jobs if he is able but there are a lot of people that are going to have to queue up at centrelink.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted March 11
i need to panic buy a haircut - in serious need of one and i want to get in before they all shut down too. While i'm there i'll get a couple. : )

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insomniac mutters...

Posted March 11
So you've been to Korea and now you've been to Italy. Is there a pattern emerging? Are you the superspreader?

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Quokka reckons...

Posted March 18
We've both had colds this week. The nasty type with aches, fevers, chills, which actually had me reaching for the panadol. We never get sick - my GP of 30 years used to roll his eyes when I rocked in for a maintenance check & say 'Get the hell out of my clinic and let me treat the sick people'. We did the sea & tree change a few years ago so my new GP probably thought the same thing when we walked in today, and all he could detect was lungs at 98% oxygenation and two mildly inflamed sore throats. The thing is, the man of the house works in health and they refused to test him unless he had the symptoms that the really sick people are getting, or unless we'd had contact with some from OS who is CV-19+. I know that the government are short on testing kits but they announced that they are expecting 97,000 this week. So my bugbear is this. I am horribly healthy. The virus is unpredictable but I have no risk factors and it's reasonable to assume that forty years worth of yoga and lentil dahl have put me in the category that may well only show mild symptoms of the kind you'd expect from seasonal flu. I have a health science degree and I had to do a unit on understanding data. Maths has never been my strong point but I know enough to understand that if you are only testing the sector of the community who fall into the high risk category - and have been in touch with someone from overseas - then this is what you call 'skewing' the results. It smacks of manipulating the data. One of my besties lives in Singapore - she says she can't exit the building without someone taking her temperature. She's back in the country and is stunned at how slack the response is, here. The thing is, if we'd been tested today, we'd have a result soon and we'd know if we had a negative result, to continue to be cautious. If we had a positive result we'd know to stay TF at home until given the all clear - and then we'd be out contributing to the economy again. Because I don't know - and won't know - I'm looking at the next six months of practicing caution and not doing stuff and not spending, and this won't be good for the local economy. It just seems like a no-brainer to test widely, as Singapore does. I've heard that only 1% of their tests return a CV-19+. But what that means is that the people have certainty and they have confidence in the government. My GP wouldn't meet my eyes today when he explained the government had set strict guidelines for who could be tested. He said that if it was up to him, he'd offer us both the test so that we had peace of mind. Probably we do have the bog standard bugs that circulate at this time of year, but if we can't test at the same level as Singapore, then the response isn't good enough.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted March 18
It probably won't help, but there is a shocking cold going around. Everyone in our house but me has had it.

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