Harvard professor: ‘Aussies crushed it’
As Bondi Beach reopens and Australia slowly returns to a life resembling pre-COVID-19 social conditions, the envy is palpable.
Australia's handling of the pandemic has placed it in rare company among nations who can genuinely look ahead with some optimism.
The death toll from the virus in Australia is 84 and new infections have slowed dramatically - NSW had just five new cases of coronavirus overnight.
The story is much different in other developed nations including the United States and Britain where death tolls have soared past 50,000 and 20,000 respectively.
Harvard Professor David Sinclair shared a side-by-side comparison on social media overnight that tells two remarkably different stories.
Next to images of an empty Bondi Beach and an overcrowded Newport Beach in California, he wrote: "California & Australia have similar populations but only Australia crushed #COVID-19. New cases = 1000 vs 9 per day. While the pundits argue about the cause, see if you notice a difference between Newport & Bondi. It's a clue."
California & Australia have similar populations but only Australia crushed #COVID19. New cases = 1000 vs 9 per day. While the pundits argue about the cause, see if you notice a difference between Newport & Bondi. It's a clue. pic.twitter.com/TNHbFpiqJu— David Sinclair, PhD (@davidasinclair) April 27, 2020
He also shared a timeline showing how Australia combated the virus, citing closed borders, a test that worked and strict social distancing rules.
"I miss the days when we were the role model for how to get things done," he wrote on Twitter.
Here's the timeline of how the Aussies did it. They closed borders early, developed a national #COVID19 test that worked 1st time & temporarily banned gatherings >2 people. I miss the days when we were the role model for how to get things done. https://t.co/psiz6BAxtG pic.twitter.com/ghHjIwUlnF— David Sinclair, PhD (@davidasinclair) April 27, 2020
The Newport example is striking. Pictures from the popular Orange County beach earlier this week show why Americans like Prof Sinclair are concerned.
California Governor Gavin Newsom overnight admonished locals who flocked to beached in their thousands during warm weather over the weekend.
He warned their behaviour could reverse progress made already.
"We can't see images like we saw, particularly on Saturday, in Newport Beach and elsewhere," Mr Newsom told reporters.
"The virus doesn't take the weekend off because it's a beautiful sunny day around our coasts," he added.
The images from Newport Beach and neighbouring Huntington Beach have prompted a backlash, with many comparing them to photos in April of beachgoers in Florida that sparked the #FloridaMorons hashtag.
Mr Newsom said that while the most populous state in the country is weeks away from starting to gradually lift stay-at-home orders, the beach scenes from the weekend could push back that goal.
US President Donald Trump said Monday that deaths in the United States from the coronavirus could reach as high as 70,000, after putting the number at 60,000 several times earlier this month.
But he also tried to deflect the blame, instead levelling it at China.
"We're doing very serious investigations ... We are not happy with China," Trump said. "We believe it could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped quickly and it wouldn't have spread all over the world."
The Trump administration worked to draw up new guidelines for how restaurants, schools, churches and businesses can safely reopen on Monday.
The administration also unveiled a "blueprint" for states to scale up their virus testing in the coming week. Still, there were doubts from public health experts that the new testing targets were sufficient.
Back home, Australia's success comes with a caveat. As Premiers Gladys Berejiklian and Annastacia Palaszczuk this week eased in NSW and Queensland (sorry, Victoria), they warned cooperation was the key to success..
"If we do see mass gatherings, I will not hesitate to clamp back down," Ms Palaszczuk said.
But other states, including Victoria, are not ready to ease restrictions.
Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Tuesday he wants 100,000 people to be tested for COVID-19 in the next two weeks before a decision is made on easing the state's restrictions.
That figure is double the number of tests carried out in Victoria since January.
"This is the biggest public health testing program that our state has ever seen and it will give us the data that will underpin the options that we will have in just a couple of weeks' time," he said on Monday.
- with wires
Originally published as Harvard professor: 'Aussies crushed it'