SARAH Hoyt’s little COVID-19 round-up at Instapundit makes the point that we really know very little about who is currently infected and that’s partly because most carriers will not experience any symptoms at all – or, at least, none that strike them as serious. Instead of panicking – which I’m not convinced most of us are (despite media click-pushing the story that we are) – we should be concentrating on care for the most vulnerable. That means the already health-compromised and the elderly. As Hoyt says: “Locking the barn door after the horse has fled AND driving down the economy is NOT actually going to help anyone.” She’s not quite right, though, in presenting this as one side of an either/or vis-a-vis containment and isolation. I think the latter can still have consequential efficacy (granted, less so in a country of her native America’s size).
A story that struck me as symptomatic, as it were, of how challenging epidemiological crisis management can be in the modern West was the one reported this week about a good-will excursion of pre-schoolers to an aged-care home. After seventeen children from Banksia Cottage in Macquarie Park visited residents of BaptistCare, all had to be tested for coronavirus when a 95-year-old woman at the facility died of the illness that week after catching it from an infected nurse. Children minded by strangers visiting the elderly minded by strangers. We outsource “child care” and “aged care” and then use the very young to make up a shortfall of joy in the lives of the very old. We tell ourselves it’s a mutually uplifting practice. It’s also a neat trick. Containment and isolation, indeed. What I can’t be sure of is whether traditional stay-at-home cultures are better suited to protecting the weak from COVID-19. If China were more like Australia, would their infected population be double what it is – or are our elderly lucky to be in semi-medical facilities 24-7?