‘Australia is more relaxed’: Ex-pat compares COVID-19 responses

A TASMANIAN couple who have recently returned from Malaysia have described the stark differences between that country and Australia's approach to containing coronavirus.

Nigel Whitehead and his wife Lyn arrived in Hobart on Monday night and are in home quarantine at their daughter's property in Kingston, isolated from the rest of the family.

As overseas travellers, they have already completed two weeks of hotel quarantine in Sydney.

The retired couple spend much of the year travelling, coming back to Tasmania for summers and living in Malaysia between trips to other overseas destinations, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic they will now spend at least the next 12 months in Tasmania.

Mr Whitehead said they travelled to Malaysia before the emergence of the pandemic, and when the country went into lockdown, it was strictly enforced and the streets were completely deserted.

Nigel Whitehead and wife Lyn.
Nigel Whitehead and wife Lyn.


"There was no-one on the streets and you weren't allowed out for any reason other than for medical emergencies or to buy food,'' he said.

"You were only allowed one person in the car and you had to go to the nearest place you could to go shopping, and they enforced it with road stops."

With comparable populations, Australia has recorded 14,935 cases of coronavirus and 161 deaths and Malaysia 8904 cases and 124 deaths.

Mr Whitehead said in Malaysia, temperature checks were routinely done at shopping centres, shops and airports.


"Australia is certainly a lot more relaxed about it. I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not,'' he said.

"The second wave in Victoria suggests perhaps it's not.

"The things Malaysia were doing as a matter of course would have served Australia well."

Mr Whitehead said they did not have their temperature taken at any Australian airports, which he found unusual.

He said they felt safe in Malaysia and confident in that country's health system, but nonetheless were happy to be back in Tasmania.

Mr Whitehead said he and his wife would be helping to look after their first grandchild, as their daughter and her husband both work at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Source - World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins, other media

Mr Whitehead and his wife are among more than 800 people in Tasmania quarantining at home after travel.

Meanwhile, more than 600 are in hotel quarantine at nine hotels across the state, Premier Peter Gutwein said.

Meanwhile, Labor has called for arrivals into quarantine at the Travelodge Hotel in Hobart's CBD to be cordoned off from members of the public in the busy area.

Labor MP for Clark Ella Haddad said the hotel was next door to the CBD's biggest commercial office block on Collins St and that the government needed to do more to protect the public and the 2500 workers in the building as arrivals were being processed.





Originally published as 'Australia is certainly a lot more relaxed': Ex-pat compares COVID-19 responses