In the same breath of air, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stressed practices to prevent the community spread of COVID-19 whilst also encouraging parents to utilise a $1.3 billion stimulus package which will make childcare free. It’s clear that Mr Morrison has no idea how childcare centres function.
At a time when Australia faces an unprecedented challenge, maintaining our economy is no easy task. Millions of Australians have lost their jobs whilst many of those who have kept them must risk transmission of COVID-19 going to and from work, as well as whilst doing it. Our healthcare care professionals have been praised as the foot soldiers on the front line doing they’re civic duty to prevent the deadly coronavirus spreading.
With Australia currently having declared 24 deaths from the virus, of the 51,000 around the world, it’s fair to say that our health professionals are doing an outstanding job in current conditions.
But with this taken into account, the Morrison government has decided that childcare is an essential service which is preventing healthcare workers from doing their jobs, and subsequently announced free childcare for all Australian families. Our healthcare professionals, of course, will have priority in places however.
That’s great. But what portion of healthcare professionals make up the overall family population? Maybe 20% which would be a very generous figure.
Suddenly, we have created a hotbed for transmission for the virus to spread via the mass gatherings of children in confined spaces, a place where community transmission will thrive as various parents come and go daily in a high-contact environment.
If anything, healthcare workers that must send their children to childcare so that they can perform their professional duties have now been horrifically exposed to the 80% of non-healthcare workers via the movement of their children.
It’s no surprise that shares in G8 Education (ASX: GEM) jumped 28% in the minutes immediately after Morrison announced the stimulus package before the largest ASX-listed childcare business went into a trading halt.
If it’s free, it will be taken up.
With childcare centres having declared drops in their occupancy down to as low as 20%, the community had clearly spoken by pulling their children out of care. Between the risk of community transmission, cost of childcare and risk put upon educators, childcare simply wasn’t a safe proposition in these times. Families spoke with their feet when it came to their toddlers and the same situation is happening in our schools.
The incessant line that children are asymptomatic and not a risk to COVID-19 is utter bullshit. It’s why there is police tape around playgrounds and parent groups that gather in more than 2 are being issued spot fines.
Around the world, the youngest reported death by COVID-19 is a six week old baby in the United States whilst a 12-year-old girl in Belgium and 13-year-old boy in the U.K has also died after contracting the coronavirus.
Yes – the younger you are, the less mild your symptoms would be. But we’re talking about a virus which can survive on surfaces for up to 14 days, and the segment of our population which are the least hygienic.
The decision to introduce free childcare will be met with skepticism amongst smarter parents but unfortunately, the reality of getting free childcare will be too attractive to pass up for many.
The worst thing? It will take up to 5 days before those who contract the virus show symptoms.
Let’s just hope the Morrison government’s decision to promote free childcare can be reviewed before a hyperbolic breakout in COVID-19 arises stemming from a childcare centre.