Many things about COVID-19 and the subsequent worldwide lockdowns have been unprecedented. Even the frequency of the use of the word itself since March has been unprecedented.
Below is a list of the events in the world that happened for the first time because of the coronavirus lockdown.
JobSeeker is the new name for the unemployment benefit or the dole. It gives the unemployed $1100 a fortnight.
JobKeeper is the name of the new Federal Government subsidy to Australians who have lost their job because of the crippling coronavirus trading restrictions. It gives recipients, before tax, $1500 a fortnight.
About 1.3 million Australians are now receiving Jobseeker, with another 400,000 claims yet to be processed. A further 6.1 million are receiving Jobkeeper.
That means an unprecedented 30 per cent, or 8 million out of a total population of 25 million Australians, are receiving unemployment benefits.
In the red
The largest deficit in Australian history is expected to be announced in the October federal budget.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, made the prediction in Parliament, last Wednesday.
He also expected gross domestic product (GDP) to fall by more than 10 per cent in the June quarter, the biggest fall on record.
Nationalised private hospitals
The Federal Government has effectively nationalised private hospitals for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.
On 31 March, it historically promised to “guarantee the viability of private hospitals” after private hospitals lost most of their business after the Government banned non- essential elective surgery.
Once in a blue moon, like Melbourne’s 2006 Commonwealth Games, some of the country’s homeless were put into motels and hotels for the duration of an event, to clean up the area for tourists.
It has been unprecedented in Australia to do this across so many states, so quickly and for the sole purpose of health reasons.
Albeit for a month and with differing success, Western Australia had its “Hotels with Heart” program with Pan Pacific Hotel and the NSW government announced they were putting thousands of the city’s homeless into two, three, four and five-star hotels.
Victoria’s homeless have been moved into motels.
Despite restrictions and lockdown, there has been continuous media coverage of Australian sport without one single ball, of any variety, being caught, kicked, marked, thrown, or hit. Now, that’s an unprecedented public relations feat.
It has been so long that any country has envied Greece, that such feelings might as well be unprecedented.
With a decade of austerity measures including crippling health cuts, Greece should have been a sitting duck headed for a coronavirus wipeout. Instead, its low mortality and infection rates have been the envy of Europe and the world.
A country of 11 million people, at the start of March it had 565 intensive care unit (ICU) beds. By the end of March, it had doubled its ICU capacity to 910 beds.
Its success has been attributed to acknowledging it’s weaknesses, engaging experts like Sydney-born professor of medicine and infectious diseases, Sotiris Tsiodras, dispelling fake news instantly and going into lockdown before one death was recorded.
For daily updates on European countries and world statistics, go to the European Union (EU) website for European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) www.ecdc.europa.eu/en.
For the first time in history, US oil at the height of the coronavirus on 21 April, was selling for naught and then minus $37 a barrel.
With US tankers and cabins full, oil storage reached its capacity. Suppliers preferred to give it away paying buyers to buy it for $37.
Oil is considered the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to the economy. On that basis, at the moment, the world economy is for the birds.
The president of USA, Donald Trump, during a press conference on 23 April said disinfectant was effective in killing the coronavirus on surfaces.
Unprecedented for a western leader, he turned to his White House Coronavirus Taskforce member, Dr Deborah Brix, and suggested the nation could look at doing a study into injecting disinfectant into COVID-19 patients and administering UV light inside their body.
Disinfectant is a poison. US disinfectant manufacturers immediately issued warnings that under no circumstances should people inject their product.
Expatriates the world over were stranded when countries introduced lockdowns and closed borders.
In India, an unbelievable 13 million citizens living abroad need to be repatriated. Its biggest ever repatriation exercise, named Vande Bharat Mission after the Indian-designed high-speed train Vande Bharat Express, began on May 7. Between May 7 and 13 alone, 14,800 Indians from 12 countries have been repatriated by plane.
Wild white stork chicks hatched in the wild for the first time in 600 years in West Sussex, in South England, on 6 May.
The storks weren’t born in time to deliver British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and fiancee Carrie Symonds’s baby a week earlier on 29 April, but the news was big anyway.
It’s believed the loss of habitat, hunting and persecution contributed to the bird’s decline. The last time the storks hatched in the area was in 1416. For pictures and information go to www.whitestorkproject.org.