Australia has been making headlines across the globe as the Delta variant exploits “covid paradise”, but not all the headlines are good.
Australia has been rattled by numerous publications across the globe but a front page from CNN is making all the headlines.
The infectious Delta variant is exploiting “covid paradise Australia”, according to onlookers across the globe as they watch the country struggling to contain its latest outbreak.
With much of Australia thrust into lockdown and fears spread over the infectious variant spreading across borders and shutting down states, CNN dubbed it: “Australia’s covid complacency”.
The UK and US are among those watching the once nation’s once highly-regarded battle with the pandemic deteriorate by the day.
As the Prime Minister announced sweeping changes to Australia’s Covid-19 fight, the BBC described Australia was in a “new phase” of the pandemic.
In a late-night message to millions of anxious Australians, Scott Morrison said he felt Australians’ fatigue and frustration as he faces increasing scrutiny over the latest Covid debacle.
Dr Andrew Miller, spokesperson of WA branch of the Australian Medical Association, told the BBC the changes were “a bit late”, despite the publication asking why WA locked down with “only three cases”.
In a piece for the publication, correspondent Phil Mercer explained: “Many Australians would have been thinking certainly in the last few months that perhaps the worst was over”.
“Australia was in an enviable position compared to many other countries and when you look at the statistics they do back up the feeling that Australia has relatively well”, he said, citing Australia’s small number of covid cases (just over 30,000) since the pandemic began.
In an editorial for the publication, BBC News Sydney’s Frances Mao echoed concerns of the “new normal” facing the country.
“One expert told me it’s a “perfect storm” for “what is now easily the most dominant variant in the world,” she wrote.
One BBC radio host said Brits assumed “people have been living life pretty much normally”.
“We’ve been looking rather enviously with every one enjoying themselves in that part of the world but maybe borders aren’t enough to keep the virus under control.”
‘First multi-region epidemic in Australia in months’
Meanwhile CNN has blamed the federal government for “failing to secure enough vaccine doses to prevent the regular ‘circuit breaker’ lockdowns that come every time a handful of cases emerge”.
“Now Australians, who basked in their early successes, are wondering how much longer this can go on,” the publication’s Angela Dewan wrote.
Mercer told the BBC: “Australia’s problem now is a sense of complacency and a slow vaccine rollout.”
Journalist Razia Iqbal told WA’s Dr Miller she was “surprised” to read about Australia’s low vaccine rate. Fewer than five per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated.
“It is pretty surprising to read that statistic,” she said.
World-renowned epidemiologist, Harvard-based Eric Feigl-Ding said the slow vaccination rate was “bad news” for Australia, describing us as “supply bottlenecked”.
“Australia is quite behind in 2 dose vaccinations,” he posted on Twitter overnight.
“Also, one dose protection is very weak against the Delta variant. Two doses needed. Hence Australia is significantly behind.
“It’s nice to say vaccines work, but not easy to hear it if you live in Australia where it’s hard to get access to.
“One dose is simply not enough. 18-30 per cent is pretty darn low efficacy for the Delta variant infection.”
He warned the that the Delta variant is two times more transmissible and that “Australia is desperately trying to avoid a future fate of UK … where hospitalisation and deaths rapidly rising.”
‘Australia ‘victim of its own success’
Ivan Watson, a CNN correspondent based in Hong Kong, said Australia is a “victim of its own success” shortly after WA announced a lockdown in Perth and Peel.
In an interview overnight, he told the First Move program, one of the key problems is that Australia’s vaccination rate is almost last among developed countries”.
“Even though they’ve been so good at keeping back the virus until now, the population is still very, very vulnerable,” he explained to American viewers.
Australia’s case numbers are still relatively small when you look at the global picture — but experts have also blamed Australians for belonging too “complacent” with the virus at a time when the rest of the world was struggling.
“Hindering officials’ efforts to contain the virus’s spread: a sense of complacency that has crept into many communities after going months with effectively zero transmission of the virus,” The Washington Post wrote in an editorial titled: Australia faces nationwide outbreak as ‘gilded cage’ is tested by variant.
‘Walking into clouds of infectious particles’
Australians have been warned against the highly infectious Delta strain with one epidemiologist describing positive cases are “walking into a cloud of infectious particles”.
Mary-Louise McLaws, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of New South Wales and an Adviser to the World Health Organisation, described the spike in numbers was “enormous” and said the Delta strain is mutating like never seen before.
Normally you need at least a few minutes to inhale enough because we’ve seen mostly you acquire covid from large droplets.”
“However, the more sadly this pandemic continues the more we’re learning that in the different phases of the disease you are more likely to exhale smaller particles than larger particles.
“So perhaps what we’re seeing is people walking in shopping malls indoors — where there’s not a lot of air flow change for a highly infectious disease — and they’re exhaling small particles that don’t fall to the ground fast and so you’re walking into a cloud of infectious particles.”
Professor McLaws theorised that it’s not the “fleeting moment of crossing paths” but more “a fleeting moment of crossing a plume of infectious aerosolised particles”.