Mandatory hotel quarantine for international travellers into Australia continues to prevent the Coronavirus spread locally.
Just 3 new cases recorded in NSW today.
All of the cases were from people who had arrived back in Australia and had been kept in 2 week hotel isolation.
One case had arrived from the United States, the other two had been in Pakistan.
This trend has been happening for some days, with almost all covid cases related to overseas travel and hotel isolation.
Just a few other cases were recorded in the community.
NSW Health Minister said the state was doing well.
“We are still doing quite well here in NSW. We had three additional cases to 8pm last night. That takes us to a total number of cases of 3,086 cases. 8995 people tested. So almost 9000 people were tested, he said.
Stopping the virus at the border
Recently the NSW Government began testing overseas arrivals for covid, regardless if they have symptoms or not.
All people arriving from international travel and taken from the airport to 14-days in a hotel room are informed of mandatory testing. Here’s what the document looks like.
When people arrive from overseas flights into Sydney airport, people are processed at immigration and put on busses for mandatory hotel room isolation.
“Once we landed in Sydney, we had to quarantine in a hotel room for 2 weeks and couldn’t leave the room, the halls were guarded by the police and army,” one traveller said.
The two weeks can be hard, with no fresh air and little freedom to move. Meals and bed clothing are taken to guests and left outside their door.
The rules seem to be working, while countries like the UK were there are still no quarantine measures, Australia’s early travel lockdown have helped save the nation.
The curve of spread has been completely flattened and in some areas of Australia, there have been no cases for weeks.
Flattening the Curve in Australia
Australia just has a few hundred active Covid cases and 101 deaths.
In March 2020, the Australian National cabinet, an emergency collaboration between national leadership and State and Territory leadership, convened to make decisions to tackle the crisis.
One of the first moves was a mandatory isolation period for all overseas travel.
As it appeared the spread of Covid in Australia had come from those returning from Europe and the US, as much as China were the outbreak first started.
Key decision that may have saved Australia
People returning from hot spot areas were already told to stay at home for 14 days, enforced by local police visits.
It was then decided that all overseas arrivals must be isolated with few exceptions, in Australia’s hotels in capital cities.
Here’s the order from NSW Health at the time:
Under public health orders by the Minister for Health and Medical Research, people who arrive in Australia from overseas or by vessel from another port outside of NSW must enter into quarantine for 14 days as directed by NSW Police.
This is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the community and heavy penalties apply to those who don’t comply with the order.
Some people are being quarantined for 14 days in hotels to help contain the pandemic.
Uncomfortable for isolated arrivals.
Although necessary, the two weeks in a hotel room is not the most pleasant experience for some.
One person, Nicola, told Nine network that she was initially excited about spending two weeks at Sydney’s InterContinental.
“The dinner has finally arrived, 3.30pm, which means I waited nine hours,” she said in a video recording.
“I actually started to panic the last half hour and ended up calling the medical line dedicated to corona patients in the hotel and said, ‘this is ridiculous, I think I’m going to faint’.”
Life returning back to normal
After extensive risk mitigation at the borders and lockdown across the Australian community, life is now returning to normal.
There have been no covid cases in South Australia, ACT, Northern Territory for weeks and no active cases there. Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland are not far behind with few cases there now.
Only New South Wales and Victoria are seeing any significant issues. However there seems to now be no or limited spread in NSW now. Only Victoria is still dealing with a community outbreak linked to a meet processing plant.
For now Australia has completely flattened the curve, with many single digit days. Outside of Victoria, almost all cases are now people arriving and being caught after isolation and screening.
Australia is now well on the way to recovery, with less economic damage than anticipated and more people returning back to work.
Interstate and intrastate borders are starting to open up, restaurants, pubs, cafes and entertainment venues.
Professional sports are returning in late May and early June. Domestic tourism is set to offset losses from global tourists. With millions of Australians confined locally, billions of dollars in spending will now take place domestically rather than overseas.
Australia’s success is similar to that of New Zealand, South Korea, Greece and Israel- where early measures likes mandatory arrivals being quarantined were also implemented.
And is in strong contrast to the devastation seen in Brazil, Western Europe, the UK and the United States where such-measures have not been in place.
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Ryan is Contributing Editor