Corona news, March 2020

Covid-19 has brought a lot of things to a grinding halt. The ACT’s first case was notified on 12 March 2020. Since then choirs, gyms, and Bunnings sausage sizzles, as well as public events (Seniors’ Week; International Workers’ Memorial Day, the School Strike for Climate rally), have been cancelled one by one. Vintage Reds shut down after its February meeting.

On 17 March there were 379 known cases in Australia at 7 a.m.; by 4 p.m., it was up to 413. Australians bought up big on toilet paper and baked beans, while in the US they bought more guns. We were urged to plant vegetables, and we did: broad beans, peas, cabbage.

By mid-March the Corona hot-line was sometimes backed up with a 5-hour wait. A friend said, this is our generation’s chance to step up and be heroic. But it’s her daughter who is heroic, a nurse working in a Melbourne hospital.

By the end of March Qantas and Virgin had closed down all international flights in and out of Australia. Qantas stood down 20,000 workers, without pay. (I had to check: its CEO Alan Joyce was on $459,000 a week.) In Melbourne, Myers department store, which during the 1930s Depression put on more workers and ran a food hall to feed them, had laid off 10,000 people.

Our Covid cases in the ACT were up, 22 of them from the Ruby Princess which had contributed a total of 440, 10% of all Australian cases. We had had a death in the ACT by this stage, and 78 cases. The ACTU calculated that a million people had lost their jobs.