It’s true that misfortune or bad news often comes in clusters. January 2020, from an Australian perspective, has been quite an awful month. The bushfires have been widespread and caused more damage than ever. The images have probably given, only a tiny idea of how rough it must be for those, directly impacted. The world has seen, day after day, images of devastation of natural habitat; homes and communities burnt to the ground; and the resulting smoke engulfing almost every city in Australia. This smoke has largely added to the summer heat, making most of the days unpleasant and make no mistake: we have all found that difficult. Especially when we are so accustomed to clear blue skies with clean air and the world-famous outdoor lifestyle.
While Australia is still fighting the bushfire battle, the month of January broke the news of the widespread of the new Coronavirus in China. Up until now it’s been largely contained within China but given the mobility of the world’s population these days, it’s hardly surprising that it has spread to many other countries, Australia included, prompting the Australian government to introduce new temporary travel restrictions between the two countries. We at ECA have also introduced a two-week exclusion for any student, staff or other visitors who have returned from mainland China. This will help ensure the safety of all.
When combined – bushfires and a health crisis - it can seem like the world is coming to an end. Or that the Australian dream for international students has turned sour. In reality, life is nearly unchanged for all but the most unfortunate. Most of us are out and about in the city, going to work, university, school and enjoying life; much as we did in the times of stronger global environmental and health conditions.
Despite the unfortunate situations, international students in Australia still enjoy an extraordinarily safe environment in any of the major cities. And the expectations are that, the bushfire season may be coming to an end soon. Or at least the worst has passed.
As for the Coronavirus, it’s impossible to say for now – as it’s such a fast-moving event. However, given the swift precautionary measures and actions followed in China, and well adopted, increasingly in other parts of the world; it is likely that we will also see a return to normality soon.
In terms of statistical probability, there is almost no real chance of any serious impact from these events. Nonetheless, ECA continues to closely monitor the situation and encourage sensible precautions as suggested by the federal Department of Health like observing good personal hygiene, follow respiratory etiquette, wear a mask if needed, seek medical attention promptly etc.
Across our four Sydney campuses as well as Melbourne and Brisbane campuses, we can report that our students are going about their studies and Australian life just as they did before.
Global news and incidents can lead to anxiety and panic; however, we want to ensure that we are cautious but always calm and suggest our students & staff to avoid adding to xenophobia outbreaks.
We wish to convey to our students that as this is a constantly changing situation which is being closely monitored, we will continue to provide updated information and support.