Friday, December 02, 2022

High vaccination rates, new freedoms: how Australia became a role model for vaccination

IAt City Gym in downtown Sydney, the townspeople have been strengthening their muscles since 1978. Sydney’s gay scene once found refuge in a fitness club. Then Hollywood stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger also trained here. On the ground floor, muscular men and women lift weights to this day, on the upper floors they pant on treadmills, next to them some of them hit sandbags in a boxing studio. Strict rules of cleanliness are still a reminder of the danger of corona. At the entrance, a staff checks the immunization status of members, checks in with the Corona app and measures body temperature with an electronic hand-held thermometer.

Looks like it’s not just body builders who need to do something. Over the past two years, treadmills have been immobile for more than six months, and punching bags have become motionless from the ceiling. The club had to close twice for at least three months, says Billy Kokinis, who has been running the studio for more than four years. The 50-year-old Australian sits at a beer table in front of his fitness club. “It was a big blow to have such an abrupt closure. As if the rug was being pulled out from under your feet.” Shortly after the club reopened in mid-October, 15 people at the club also contracted the virus. did.

Billy Kokinis, 55, Runs Sydney's City Gym Fitness Club And Has Endured Two Lockdowns And A Coronavirus Outbreak In The Studio.

Billy Kokinis, 55, runs Sydney’s City Gym fitness club and has endured two lockdowns and a coronavirus outbreak in the studio.

Image: Till Fenders

But that is now the history of the pandemic. While the number of infections has skyrocketed in Central Europe, Australia is making progress as it opens up. In mid-October, Sydney celebrated its “Independence Day”. Not only gyms, but bars and restaurants have also reopened – at least for those who have been fully vaccinated. Life is blooming on the streets again. This is because of the extremely high vaccination rates that many Australian states have now achieved. In New South Wales, about 92 percent of residents over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated, and about 95 percent have received at least one dose. In the neighboring state of Victoria, more than 88 percent have been fully vaccinated, with the capital region Canberra also 97 percent. Nationally, about 92 percent have been vaccinated at least once and 85.5 percent twice.

When did zero covid come to be understood?

These are figures that no one would have dared to even dream about just a few months ago. They were obtained even without vaccination and were much faster than originally expected. Alexandra Martiniuk, an epidemiologist at the University of Sydney, says a “sigh of relief” is now blowing across the country. Down Under had repeatedly pushed back the virus by closing internal and external borders, strict quarantine requirements and temporary curfews. Thanks to the zero COVID strategy, fewer than 500 cases were reported daily during the first two waves of 2020, even at the peak. Australia became a model for advocates of a zero-Covid strategy in Germany.

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