My adopted country, Australia, feels “like Putin’s Russia”, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. In its futile battle for Zero Covid, the “Lucky Country” has become “LockDownUnder”. As Britain returns to near-normal, Australia is staying shut until eight out of 10 are immune. “At the current rate of vaccinations, that won’t be until next year at the earliest.” Three key cities, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, are closed to each other and to outsiders. The economy is “creaking”, and police riot squads and troops roam the streets to maintain order.
Keeping the borders closed has meant fewer than 1,000 Australians have died, compared with more than 130,000 people in Britain. Brilliant enough. But a golden opportunity to get 26 million people jabbed has been squandered. PM Scott Morrison insisted this was “not a race”. His rollout “slowed to a strollout”. Anti-vaxxers smeared AstraZeneca, of which there was plenty. Everyone wanted Pfizer, of which there was none. Thousands of Aussies are marooned overseas, barred from their own country. In a new twist, those who made it back have been told not to leave again. One stranded group has lodged a human-rights complaint with the UN. “It’s the biggest failure of public administration I can recall,” storms ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull. Australia has turned “into a gilded cage”.