Now Australians, who basked in their early successes, are wondering how much longer this can go on.
“We can’t leave the country, people can’t come in, and we end up periodically in lockdowns, which cost a friggin’ fortune,” said Powditch.
“People have been accepting that this is a diabolically difficult situation, but once we start watching the rest of the world open up, we’re going to turn to anger over the way things like vaccines have been rolled out here.”
Already there are signs that Australians are getting weary of these sporadic disruptions to their lives. El domingo, large crowds were seen on Bondi Beach, despite the stay-at-home orders. While outdoor exercise is allowed, images from Bondi showed people bathing in the winter sun and sitting on benches with drinks.
A 48-hour lockdown was also imposed in parts of Australia’s Northern Territory, including its capital, Darwin, after four Covid-19 cases were linked to a worker at a gold mine. He is believed to have become infected during an overnight stay at a quarantine hotel in Brisbane. Now painstaking efforts to trace all 900 workers who have left the mine for cities across Australia over recent days are under way, as the country relies heavily on a robust track-and-trace system to keep clusters contained.
Vacilación ante la vacuna
Australia has recorded just 910 deaths in its population of 25 millón, one of the lowest per capita death tolls in the developed world, and cases have remained low as well.
While it beat much of the world in getting its economy back up and running, its tourism sector has taken a massive hit, its universities are struggling without the fees international students usually bring and some Australians, who travel abroad in relatively high numbers, are starting to feel the itch to go on holidays overseas.
Even New Zealand — the only country with which Australians had an open travel corridor — announced a three-day suspension of quarantine-free travel between the nations starting Saturday because of the outbreaks.
Australia has fully vaccinated just over 4% of its population, compared with more than 46% in the US and 47% en el Reino Unido, according to Our World in Data. Its rates are more comparable with Indonesia and India, cuales, like much of the developing world, were left out of the agreements with pharmaceutical companies that secured hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for most of the rich world.
Compounding the problem is hesitancy towards Covid-19 vaccines in Australia
. One survey by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age
, with research firm Resolve Strategic
15% of adults surveyed were
“not at all likely
” y 14% fueron “not very likely
” to take a vaccination in the months ahead
. The survey was taken after an April ruling that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was linked to a very rare blood disorder side effect
, involving blood clots
Australian officials have said they hope to reach herd immunity
— the point at which about
80% of the population is vaccinated
— before reopening its borders
. Prime Minister Morrison earlier said that may not be until mid-2022
. More recently
, he was even unable to commit to a Christmas 2022 reopening.
In a question to the prime minister, journalists on Channel 9’s Today program on Thursday suggested that Morrison and his slow vaccine rollout were responsible for the ongoing lockdowns.
Morrison replied by saying an increase in supply “will really kick in next month in July,” y eso 600,000 Pfizer doses were due in next week.
“The challenge we’ve had, por supuesto, has been with AstraZeneca. quiero decir, the medical advice has restricted its availability to those over 60, and prior to that over 50. Ahora, that was a big shock to the rollout and they are events outside of the government’s control,” él dijo, adding there were new supply arrangements with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.
“Asi que, we’ll keep working towards that goal, by the end of the year, of offering that vaccine to everybody who would want one and there will be an escalating ramp-up as we move through the second half of the year,” él dijo.
Can’t get in, can’t get out
The government has also been criticized for leaving about 36,000 Australians stranded overseas. Caps on arrivals to the country have made booking seats on flights difficult and expensive, and the cost of quarantine is in the thousands of dollars. It’s the responsibility of the person arriving to foot the bill.
It’s just as hard for some living in Australia to get out. If someone from overseas has Australian citizenship or permanent residence, they need a government exemption to leave the country.
The result is not just holidays lost, but lost time with family and friends.
At the last census in
2016, around half the people living in Australia were either born abroad or had at least one parent born overseas
One Brisbane resident from Canada, who is working in a hospital in healthcare, is hoping a speedier vaccine program will mean fewer border controls and, Ojalá, a trip back home.
“I’m originally from Canada and don’t know when I will see my family again. Honestamente, I think at least 2 años,” the healthcare worker wrote in a message to CNN.
“We’re so frustrated! The vaccination process is ridiculous. I’m a healthcare worker in the top list of people and there was so much confusion. We were told to email and that we’d be contacted when our appointment was … then we’re told just to show up because that program was actually not recording anything,” ella dijo.
“It’s still only open to [people aged] 50+ even though spreaders are averaging 20-30 years of age. We’re sick of lockdowns, knowing the vaccine is out there.”
And for some residents with strong ties abroad, there are more serious implications to this global isolation.
Katerina Vavrinec, a 34-year-old from the Czech Republic living in Sydney, said she has sought counseling for mental health issues arising from the separation from her friends and family, and the anxiety that has come with it. She hasn’t been to her home city of Prague for three years.
“Keeping borders shut is going to have a huge impact on people’s mental health,” ella dijo, pointing to the high number of Australians with family ties overseas. “So this is going to have huge impact on the mental health of millions of people.”
Vavrinec is on maternity leave and due to return to work in just over a week, though she’s not sure what that will look like in lockdown. But she’s found a silver lining.
“I’m actually quite happy that we’re in lockdown because I’ve been quite frustrated with the indefinite border closures. So I’m hoping that the lockdown forces people to realize that completely isolating Australia from rest of the world is not going to get us out of this.”