On 10 October, during his daily press conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said, “The only numbers I’m focused on is [COVID-19] case numbers.”
We knew this already. That’s why Victoria has been subject to the cruel and indefinite lockdown measures that have crippled the economy, caused countless businesses to close for good, and kept school children from seeing their friends for months on end.
What Andrews’ admission does not explain, however, is why there has been no nuance in the policy response to the legitimate public health threat posed by COVID-19. Back in March when very little was known about the new diseas, governments responded by implementing blanket lockdown measures to halt the spread of the virus. The idea was to ‘flatten the curve’ to buy time to ensure that adequate healthcare and contact tracing personnel and infrastructure were in place to deal with community transmission.
Much more is now known about COVID-19, including how it spreads and which population groups are most at risk after contracting it, which treatments are more effective than others, and that over the longer term effective contact tracing systems are far more important than blunt tools such as lockdown measures.
However, the Andrews government has refused to implement a more sophisticated approach to dealing with coronavirus. It has pursued an unrealistic elimination strategy which was never going to be achievable.
Daniel Andrews’ refusal to consider anything other than confirmed case numbers is a concerning admission. No politician or policymaker should ever advocate policies based on a single consideration. Since the beginning of the lockdown in late March, the Institute of Public Affairs has been highlighting the limitations of such an approach by drawing attention to the social, economic, psychological, and mental and psychical health impacts of lockdown measures.
Here are some other numbers we think Dan Andrews should be aware of.
Lockdowns have thrown 696,000 Victorians out of work, according to IPA analysis.
Since March, 135,400 young Victorians (aged 15-19 years old) have lost their job, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
In the June quarter alone private sector wages declined by $1.9 billion while public sector wages increased by $88 million, according to IPA analysis.
Victorian government and public sector debt is approaching $150 billion, or $22,600 per Victorian, according to IPA analysis of Victorian Budget figures.
Between September and October alone, more than 350,000 Victorians sought access to Medicare-funded GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists and counselling treatments, according to The Australian.
Calls to the support lines of Beyond Blue are 77 per cent higher in Victoria than across the rest of the country.
The number of people hospitalised after attempting suicide is currently up 6% on last year. For those aged 17 and under, the number is up 31.3%, according to The Australian.
Of Victoria’s 79 local government areas, 51 currently have no active cases. Only one LGA has more than 20 active cases.
There is not a single patient with COVID-19 in intensive care in all of Victoria.
Daniel Andrews’ reckless elimination strategy has destroyed Victorian jobs, businesses, and livelihoods. Zero COVID-19 cases mean zero hope for Victorians.
It’s time to end the lockdowns and let Victorians live.