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Australia's battle with Covid

Professor Adrian Esterman, Chair of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of South Australia, looks at the current situation.

Australia is always touted as the “Lucky Country”, and to a large extent that is true. It has remained pretty much unscathed with respect to COVID-19, with just over 30,000 cases and just over 900 deaths. As I pointed out in my article 12 months ago, this was largely due to the quick closure of borders early last year and very good compliance with social distancing and hygiene regulations by the Australian public. Contact tracing in each state has also been exceptional. However, two problems are now rearing their ugly heads – hotel quarantine and the vaccination roll-out.

Hotel quarantine

When the epidemic first started last year and our borders were closed, we had two problems – a lot of empty hotels and thousands of Australians who were currently overseas and desperately wanted to return. So, a decision was made to quarantine them in the near-empty hotels. At the time, it was quite a good solution, and we did not know then how readily the virus can be passed on by aerosol.  However, all recent outbreaks, including the current one in Victoria, have been caused by leaks from the quarantine hotels.

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