The Phoney War …

COVID-19 reached Australia in late January since then according to this morning’s figures from the Federal Government there have been

7,185 people infected

103 deaths

6,606 people have recovered

By world standards we have scooted through virtually unscathed – almost 6 million cases and 367,000 deaths elsewhere. The Victorian State Government was recently declaiming loudly that at least 30,000 deaths have been avoided.

All of this achieved by a rapid and vigorous response that is now being eased.

On 1st September 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war. And then nothing discenible happened for eight or nine months. The period became known as the Phoney War. Many of London’s children were evacuated to safe places in the English countryside. These included my mother, her sister and their two brothers. My mother found herself reasonably comfortable on the country estate of one of England’s aristocrats. The boys were housed elsewhere in fairly primitive conditions and were being treated as unpaid farm labour. My Grandmother went for a visit, was appalled, rounded up the kids and took them back to London … just in time for the Blitz.

Australia has declared war on this virus. It has shut its borders, external and internal, shut down its economy, thrown a huge number of people out of work, sent a major proportion of its businesses to the wall and abrogated the freedoms of movement and assembly. In short it has mobilised its armies and spent its treasure. The enemy has bided its time.

Victoria has been especially zealous. The people have barricaded themselves behind a wall of toilet paper, the government has banned golf, hiking and fishing, the police have been throwing fines around like confetti, going as far as pinging a stand up paddle boarder in splendid isolation on Port Phillip Bay. In the ACT the police haven’t found it necessary to issue a fine and the police in NSW have issued far fewer. I have been wondering how long it would be before Victoria Police began shooting us for our own protection.

But we won the war, right?

Well, no. We are in exactly the same peril as when we started. We have a naive population, no herd immunity and the virus is still present in the community. The phoney war may soon be over.

For those struggling to pay the rent or fend off bankruptcy it must be sobering to know that without the lockdown most of them would have recovered from a mild illness by now and be back at work.

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