Alan Jones’ latest virus rant
As Australians are warned to prepare for the "long haul" - with the possibility that extreme measures preventing a widespread coronavirus outbreak could stay in place for 18 months - radio shock jock Alan Jones has suggested that some Aussies' response to the pandemic could be worse than the pandemic itself.
Six Australians have died as a result of the infection, and there are now 596 cases of the virus confirmed across the nation.
But, Mr Jones said on his radio show on Thursday morning, only one of these cases was "on the books" as what the World Health Organisation (WHO) would define as "serious".
"There is another way of looking at this, which may provide some comfort," the 78-year-old, who is broadcasting from his Fitzroy Falls home, said, after listing off a series of statistics relating to the number of worldwide cases, deaths and recovered patients.
"No one's diminishing the significance of it, but we could just go on accurate figures."
While the worldwide cases - a statistic he said he didn't regard "as having a lot of significance" - had increased "slightly", so too had the number of recovered cases.
"They're at 84,314," Mr Jones said, citing the latest statistics at the time of him going to air. "That is - they no longer have a problem."
Mr Jones said that of the 170 countries in the world, 112 were yet to report any deaths.
And, per WHO statistics, he said that the total number of coronavirus cases in Australia per one million people was only 22.
After once again accusing the media of "alarmist" reporting and apocalyptic headlines, Mr Jones said that the information he provided on his show about the coronavirus outbreak was not going to be "elaborated, embellished or exaggerated".
"You know, people don't have an in-built mechanism to handle this sort of stuff," he said, adding that people were "sick of this".
"People are hearing this alarmism every day. It's on the news, it's in the papers, it's on social media. It's almost impossible for them to, on the one hand, be fully informed - they don't the voracity or the truth of what they're being told - and secondly, they can't escape it."
Earlier this week, Mr Jones expressed his concern for his listeners, stating that the media had done a "poor job" at informing, advising and not alarming them.
"The fact that people are fighting over toilet paper indicates the deep sense of alarm," he said.
"Unless I'm moving in different circles, the almost universal reaction I am getting is that we have gone mad."
Mr Jones said this morning that while supermarkets had tried to do the right thing by opening early for the elderly and the disabled, the question was no longer what the shops were doing but what Australians were doing, following news that police had been forced to stand guard in grocery stores to stop violence between stockpiling shoppers.
"What are we doing?" Mr Jones asked. "How has our behaviour reached this point? Are we a worse society than we were 20 years ago? I think we are."
The Sky News host came under fire this week for reportedly claiming the concern around the coronavirus is "nothing more than hysteria".
Listeners accused him of "downplaying a serious threat", while commentator Mike Carlton labelled his comments "dangerous" and "reckless" and writer Brett Debritz suggested it was "time for Channel 9 to shut him down".
But, Mr Jones told Sky News on Wednesday night, he "never said the pandemic is hysteria", saying that he has "persistently stuck to the facts" updated every day by the WHO.
"I have sought to dismantle the hysteria by sticking to the facts as know them today," he said.
Mr Jones' latest comments come after the Federal Government announced on Wednesday that it was stepping up measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
After telling Australians to "stop hoarding", Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that a national cabinet of state and federal leaders had agreed on Tuesday night to an indefinite ban on indoor groups of 100 people or more, with exemptions for schools, public transport, universities, prisons, courts, supermarkets and worksites.
"Stop hoarding," Mr Morrison said. "I can't be more blunt about it. Stop it. It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis.
"That is not who we are as people. It is not necessary. It is not something that people should be doing."
A global do-not-travel order, and strict new rules for visiting aged care homes have also been put in place, and a national human biosecurity emergency under the Biosecurity Act has been declared.
Originally published as Alan Jones' latest virus rant