May 2020

The Nation Reviewed

Another month of plague

By Nick Feik
Voices from the coronavirus outbreak

“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations.”

— UN secretary-general António Guterres, Mar 19

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“Medical TV dramas such as Grey’s Anatomy are donating equipment including masks, gowns and gloves to emergency workers tackling the coronavirus pandemic. The shows are emptying their prop rooms of materials that are in increasingly short supply.”

— AFP, Mar 21

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“I’m getting news that some would like to throw graduation parties. We will send in the police. With flamethrowers.”

— Vincenzo De Luca, president of the Campania region, Italy, Mar 21

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“For the next wee while, things will look worse before they look better … [But] everything you will all give up for the next few weeks, all of the lost contact with others, all of the isolation, and difficult time entertaining children – it will literally save lives. Thousands of lives.”

— New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Mar 23

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“If I had my opportunity to have my two bob’s worth, with the benefit of what we now know, about those … people, I’d have said, yeah, maybe we should hold them on the ship.”

— NSW health minister Brad Hazzard (Mar 23) implies regret that 2700 passengers from the Ruby Princess were allowed to disembark at Sydney Harbour. More than 660 COVID-19 infections and at least 18 deaths have since been associated with its passengers.

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“This has been by far the worst day for working people in Australia for generations … We need UK style wage subsidies now!”

— ACTU secretary Sally McManus, Mar 23

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“My prayer knees are getting a good workout.”

— Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Mar 23

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“The line was already about three blocks long … When I ring the phone number, I get an automated service.”

— Justin McMaugh, 44, speaks to Guardian Australia outside Centrelink in Campsie, NSW, Mar 24

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“My bad, not realising the sheer scale of the decision on Sunday night by national leaders, that literally saw hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, people unemployed overnight.”

— Government services minister Stuart Robert speaking on 2GB, Mar 24

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“We do not want people coming to Queensland to have a holiday break.”

— Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Mar 24

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“It would be irresponsible at this point not to get ready to make tragic decisions about who lives and who dies.”

— Dr Matthew Wynia, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado, The New York Times, Mar 24

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“The whole concept of death is terrible.”

— US president Donald Trump, press conference, Mar 24

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“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has wished Prince Charles a speedy recovery following news that the 71-year-old heir to the British throne has contracted coronavirus.”

— Reuters, Mar 25

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“Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected bringing in a UK-style wages subsidy scheme in response to the coronavirus crisis, saying it would be slow to build and difficult to pull off.”

The Canberra Times, Mar 25

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“It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing.”

— Donald Trump, press conference, Mar 26

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“US surpasses China for highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world.”

Guardian Australia, Mar 26

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“Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday sent his best wishes to his British counterpart Boris Johnson and Prince Charles after they both tested positive for COVID-19.”

The Express Tribune, Pakistan, Mar 28

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“The virus is here. We’re going to have to face it – but face it like a fucking man … We’re all going to die one day.”

— Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, Mar 29

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“It is never the time for rash and ill-considered decisions.”

— Scott Morrison, revealing the government’s $130 billion wage subsidy scheme. Nine Media, Mar 30

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“This is already shaping up as the deepest dive on record for the global economy for over 100 years.”

— Kenneth S. Rogoff, Harvard economist, The New York Times, Apr 1

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“Online retailer Net-a-Porter has reported a spike in sales of track pants (up 42 per cent on last year).”

— Nine Media, April 1

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“Not one single person has been infected with the novel coronavirus in our country so far.”

— Pak Myong Su, Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Department, North Korea, AFP, Apr 2

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“This really might be the end of parliamentary democracy in Hungary.”

— Dalibor Rohac of the American Enterprise Institute, after the Hungarian parliament gives President Viktor Orbán’s government unfettered emergency powers to rule by decree until further notice, ABC, Apr 2

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“Did you know I was number one on Facebook? I just found out I’m number one on Facebook.”

— Donald Trump, press conference, Apr 2

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“What we are concerned about is that calls to our domestic violence hotline are down, calls to our intake are down, and we don’t think that that’s because less people need our help.”

— Susan Pearlstein, family law unit, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Guardian Australia, Apr 3

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“We weren’t in contact with any person, we weren’t stopping anywhere, we weren’t planning on visiting any destination. We were just learning to drive in those conditions and we were pulled over by the police.”

— Sharee Reynolds, after her 17-year-old daughter, Hunter, was fined $1652 by Victoria Police, 3AW, Apr 6

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“There’s zero reason for someone to stay in an Airbnb. It’s illegal to have any guests whatsoever.”

— Spokesperson for NSW minister for better regulation and innovation Kevin Anderson, Apr 6

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“I have to say we’re all very worried about the provision of personal protective equipment. I’ve seen department directors going to Bunnings.”

— Stephen Parnis, former vice president of the Australian Medical Association, ABC Q&A, Apr 7

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“Centrelink debt recovery staff have been instructed to keep raising debts against people who have died and to undertake a range of debt recovery activities.”

— ABC 7.30, Apr 9

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“The United States has reached a grim landmark: More than one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks … 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid.”

— Associated Press, Apr 9

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“The Wall Street Journal always ‘forgets’ to mention that the ratings for the White House Press Briefings are ‘through the roof’ (Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale, according to @nytimes) & is only way for me to escape the Fake News & get my views across. WSJ is Fake News!”

— Donald Trump, Twitter, Apr 9

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“If our workers don’t die from coronavirus, they’d die of starvation.”

— Business owner Vijay Mahtaney, after garment factories in Bangladesh, India and Jordan were shut down, forcing thousands out of work, and major US and UK retailers demanded discounts, payment extensions and cancellations on existing orders, Apr 10

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“This week, in only 4 days, we had the biggest Stock Market increase since 1974. We have a great chance for the really big bounce when the Invisible Enemy is gone!”

— Donald Trump, Twitter, Apr 10

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“The United States now has now overtaken Italy to have the highest death toll from coronavirus in the world.”

— BBC, Apr 12

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“There is no place I would rather be than Australia at the moment.”

— Australian chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, Apr 12

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of The Monthly.

@nickfeik

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