Another day, another border opens to vaccinated travellers. And yet here we are on the other side of the world wondering if our newly opened bubble with New Zealand will burst after hearing news of a positive case in an airport worker.
No one denies how lucky we are, how good we’ve been, but as other countries begin to relax international travel restrictions, experts are warning that our unrealistic desire to lock out COVID entirely will leave Australia isolated from the rest of the world.
Professor Peter Collignon from the Australian National University Medical School has warned that Australia could end up like North Korea where citizens are not allowed to leave if attitudes to the virus don’t change.
“Eventually we're going to have to accept some COVID cases,” Collignon told Mail Online.
“Unless we want borders closed for the next four to five years — that's how long it's going to take for the world to get on top of this.”
Australia is a victim of it’s own success, said Collignon, with Aussies unused to the virus circulating as it does in other countries. So drumming up support for a model that will see COVID accepted will be tough.
“There are some people who want to keep cases to zero and keep the borders closed - it seems the majority.
“But I can't see how that's sustainable - you would turn into a nation like North Korea,' he said.
“You can't ban travel forever, I don't think that's sustainable for social and economic reasons.”
But to travel again and rejoin the rest of the world, Collignon says that we have to accept a similar number of COVID deaths as flu deaths annually.
2017 was a bad yer for the flu, he said. 1,255 people died. There was no furore, no masks, no social distancing.
And the reality is no vaccine is 100% effective and not 100% of our population will agree to be vaccinated.
Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid warned that because of these facts, “we don't have COVID now, but COVID is coming”.
“We cannot keep this virus out of Australia forever unless we become a true island nation with no travel,” he told ABC radio.
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