North Korea leads the way

The rapid expansion of police state powers across Australia has provided a rare occasion of bringing Crikey broadly into agreement with an editorial in The Australian. However necessary we may believe these powers to be, we must be vigilant that this simulacra of totalitarianism doesn't morph into the real thing.

For a glimpse at how the real thing deals with a crisis of this sort we can look to North Korea. The hermit kingdom acted early and claims to not have a single case of coronavirus -- but then they also claim supreme leader Kim Jong-Un can control the weather, so many experts have their doubts.

But, as The New York Times reports, a lack of testing ​equipment ​​may mean the state would genuinely not detect a single case​ in the likely case that outbreak did occur. This is particularly worrying for a country whose health system has been ravaged by years of international sanctions.