Its more than 35,000km (21,750 miles) of coastline was always going to be Australia’s strongest advantage in keeping coronavirus at bay, but even so, the speed with which it was used was breathtaking.
Without warning on Thursday 19 March, the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced: “Australia is closing its borders to all-non citizens”. The ban was effective from 9pm the next day.
Australia and neighbouring New Zealand, almost unique among anglophone countries, have so far been successful in largely suppressing the spread of Covid-19 within their countries, and in particular, keeping deaths low.
Australia, with a population of 25 million, has had just over 6,000 infections, and 50 deaths. New Zealand, a country of 5 million people, which closed its borders the day before Australia, has had 1,200 infections and so far only one death from Covid-19.