Dr Owain Williams By: Dr Owain Williams
Lecturer in IR and Human Security
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29 Mar 2020 : Things will get worse before they get better

The Higher Ed system is clearly not immune to COVID-19. I see a heart breaking Tweet from someone 3 months into first tenure position. Her college – MacMurray College – has just announced it will close permanently. It will not be the last I am sure. Even before this crisis it was clear that the Australian sector was so heavily exposed, particularly to high numbers of Chinese students. I some universities this runs at something like 30% of intake. It has clearly fuelled expansion, but the questions started dripping out after the lock-down and non-returns after lunar new year. Already then there was a sense of what will happen if they do not come back? Now would you return to countries making a mess of managing the crisis, or where the President and Vice President block G7 agreement because they want to call it a Wuhan Virus or even the Chinese Virus.

Cases in Florida are presently doubling every 3 days. Newscasts (today/yesterday?) show people on the beach in St Kilda, Melbourne. The contrasts are everywhere. In the UK an infected PM warns of tougher measures. He warns also that ‘it will get worse before it gets better’… on that we can agree. In Australia Stage 3 is looming. Such poor messaging. When? Why? What will it entail? How should people prepare? It seems more of a rhetorical tool to serve for we are doing something, honest. A further passenger from the Ruby Princess dies today and there are presently 3978 cases. An ashen Scott Morrison gives a press conference, all swagger and smirk have left his face. It is actually quite a stark performance as a result, not being his usual thin charlatan self is quite disturbing, the penny has evidently dropped. But there is good news with the rate of increase now dropping to 9%. Relief on business and private rents, and public gatherings down to two people all “enforceable” subject to state and territories. A six month timeline for measures is dropped in at the very end. It is clear that Australia is doing better than man, at least for now.

Finally, in a long day of news, we see the National Guard in Rhode Island os policing borders with New York state. The governor of NYS threatens to sue. What utter chaos. Germany is medvaccing patients from Bergamo in a huge move, really fantastic solidarity. Peak in Italy is still expected n coming days, although the spread south is still of concern. India continues to startle me. Just millions of migrant works. Special buses full and unable to cope with numbers. People still walking with no food, and government being panned by desperate people. Just a brutal situation.

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