NYT: Australia Thought the Virus Was Under Control. It Found a Vulnerable Spot.

From the New York Times:

The authorities have locked down 300,000 people in heavily immigrant areas around Melbourne, reinforcing the coronavirus’s outsized impact on disadvantaged communities….

The rise in infections — Victoria reported 77 new cases Thursday, the most since March — has driven home the outsized impact of the coronavirus on vulnerable communities. In these places, people often must venture out for jobs that put them at risk of contracting the virus, and communication by the authorities in residents’ native languages can be patchy.

As it has elsewhere in the world, the coronavirus found a hole in Australia’s system: It spread in part because of the sharing of a cigarette lighter among security guards working at a hotel where returning international travelers are being quarantined.

It sounds to me like some immigrants are not a blessing. Is “vulnerable communities” a euphemism for low-IQ communities? There aren’t many high IQ security guards. It’s about the lowest paying job around.

So these immigrants can’t speak English? Why would a country like Australia want to admit immigrants who can’t speak English?

In Australia, the coronavirus has taken hold in pockets around Melbourne where government messaging has not always been effective because of language barriers and other problems like distrust of the authorities. Fears of testing for the virus run high, and people may be less able to stay home from casual jobs when ill.

Some of these areas also experience high rates of homelessness and overcrowding, making it difficult for people to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

Why would Australia want to import these people?

The dangers were foreshadowed in May, when a panel of doctors and experts warned the Australian government that it had missed an opportunity to protect migrant communities.

How much can a government protect people who can’t be bothered to learn to read English and to follow health directions?

Mr. Micallef and other community leaders said communication by the state and federal authorities to high-risk groups had fallen short of what would have been necessary to prevent infections. Some said that translated information took too long to reach them, and was not clear.

“You almost need a university degree to try to understand it,” Mohammad Al-Khafaji, the chief executive of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, said of a multipage document on the coronavirus that the government had translated into Arabic.

Definitely the government’s fault here.

She added that while a first wave of racism related to the coronavirus had targeted people of Asian descent, a second wave against migrant and ethnic communities was emerging because of misconceptions that these groups did not heed public health advice.

Leaders in the Islamic community also said they worried that anti-Muslim sentiment had risen after reports that one of Melbourne’s clusters had originated at an Eid celebration last month.

Where are the misconceptions?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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