In late January 2020, the smoke was still clearing from the intense bushfires that had ravaged the country. The east coast had been battered by intense hailstorms and flash flooding. And an obscure and as-yet unnamed disease came to Australia.
The first case of Novel Coronavirus in Australia (nCoV-19) was reported in Victoria on 25 January 2020, with an additional three cases confirmed in New South Wales later that day. The name for the disease caused by nCoV-19, coronavirus disease (COVID-19), was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 February 2020. The first person to die from COVID-19 in Australia was a man from Western Australia who died in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital on 1 March 2020.
We could only imagine what the next three years would be like
As a result of Covid 19, prices in Australian securities markets declined sharply, while volatility in equity markets increased substantially for a time. However, the period of volatility was brief, particularly when compared with the disruption experienced during the global financial crisis of 2007–2009.
Throughout much of February 2020, securities markets were relatively unaffected as market participants were cautiously optimistic about the expected economic effects of the virus. However, with rising case numbers both here and abroad, it became apparent that the virus was highly transmissible and that economic activity would be severely disrupted by measures necessary to contain it. On 11 March, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
On 16 March, the ASX 200 fell by 9.7 per cent – the largest one-day fall in over 30 years. By 23 March, the ASX 200 was 35 per cent below its 20 February peak. By this time, prices were very volatile and changing in either direction by an average of nearly 4.5 per cent each day. Meanwhile, the average share of securities that were bought and sold each day more than doubled.
August 7, 2020 was one of the most dramatic days of the pandemic in Australia. All non-essential businesses in Melbourne were closed as full lockdown kicked off in the city. Meanwhile, thousands of people streamed across the border from NSW to Queensland after a border closure was announced. The closure was announced following the diagnosis of 12 COVID-19 cases in NSW. People returning to the ACT from Victoria were told they could not drive through NSW to get home, and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer warned there was no guarantee a COVID-19 vaccine would ever be developed.
As Australia was exiting coronavirus conditions, the virus was spreading rampantly in the United States. But change was in the air. Donald Trump had lost the election two weeks earlier, partly on the back of America’s botched handling of the pandemic. Days earlier, Pfizer had announced its COVID-19 vaccine was 90 per cent effective.
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced she would no longer be holding daily press conferences on the pandemic.
On December 20, 2021, Omicron was beginning to spread rapidly around the country. The Omicron surge overwhelmed PCR testing capacity around the country.
By March 30, 2022, tens of thousands of Australians were catching COVID-19 every day.
But by then, the public mood had shifted away from concern over the disease. Instead, the eyes of the nation were on northern NSW, which was being overwhelmed with flooding.
In South Australia, the government announced that unvaccinated teachers would be allowed to return to classrooms.
The impact of testing-daily to weekly
In the 1000 days since the first Covid case was recorded, 15,487 Australians have died from the disease, and more than 10 million cases have been reported.
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