Our politicians and their advisors get no kudos for taking risks. They err on the side of caution. The risk of deaths from COVID-19 is immediate and visible. What is not seen is the emotional, health and prosperity costs borne by those who have lost their jobs and their businesses, or are suffering from their lack of interaction with family, friends and workmates.
It is time to return to work and play and socialising.
For the past few weeks, I have been observing the excellent infographic on COVID-19 from the Australian Government Department of Health.
As of 25 May, Australia had recorded 7118 cases, of whom 102 had died and 6,532 had recovered.
Most of the deaths were people over 70 years of age with pre-existing illnesses or immune deficiencies. There were only 484 active cases; of these 5 were in ICU, 31 in hospital, and the remaining 448 quarantined.
Testing has been extensive. By 25 May, Australia had tested 1,244,200 people and 7118 of these were positive. Previously, up to 25 April, Australia had tested 494,257 people and 6,695 were positive.
That means that in the intervening month, 749,943 people were tested and only 423 of these were positive – 0.564%. That is one person in every 1,773 tested.
Because only selected people are being tested – those with a sniffle or those in high risk occupations – we can extrapolate that the incidence in the community generally is even less – probably much, much less.
Most of the confirmed cases were acquired overseas (62.2%) and many others were acquired from contact with these people. Stopping overseas travel and quarantining new arrivals has been very effective. Social distancing and hygiene have also had an impact.
The total number of active cases at 25 May was 484.
Most of them are in quarantine or hospital.
The chances of running into someone who has contracted the virus are decreasingly small unless you are in an aged-care home.
It is time for mandatory regulations to become advisory. We are adult enough to make our own sensible decisions if given sound advice.
And if you get the chance, do read Frederic Bastiat That Which is Seen, And That Which is Unseen.
Addendum 10 July 2020
As a consequence of the Victorian Government's quarantine fiasco this is no longer possible. The virus has now spread into the community. There are 1624 active cases, 1172 in Victoria. Melbourne is in lockdown. Businesses are closed. The economic loss is estimated at $1 billion per week.
 Frederic Bastiat's famous essay That Which is Seen, and That Which is Unseen, was first published in 1850. His work is still in print.