COVID-19 response must include vulnerable communities

Burnet Institute

04 May, 2020

Image: Burnet Institute Special Advisor on Nutrition Professor Mike Toole AM

Burnet Institute’s Professor Mike Toole AM has warned a failure to address the needs of some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities risks undermining efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Professor Toole was responding to a call from the Refugee Council of Australia for federal financial support for more than one million temporary visa holders, including migrant workers, international students and asylum seekers living in Australia.

“Strong evidence suggests when people cannot buy food, medicines or pay their rent, they are more likely to move into overcrowded housing which is a risk for COVID-19 infection,” Professor Toole told The Age.

“Similarly with insecure visas, people are much less likely to go to the hospital even if they are unwell.”

Professor Toole said there were lessons for Australia in Singapore’s management of COVID-19.

Early and promising signs that Singapore was containing the spread of the virus were undermined by the country’s failure to address living conditions for migrant workers.

A former Burnet board member and former Head of International Health, Professor Toole is involved in Burnet’s COVID-19 response.

He has more than 40 years’ experience international health including communicable disease control (including HIV), maternal and child health and nutrition, and public health in emergency settings.

Read The Age article in full here.

Find out more about Burnet’s involvement in the global COVID-19 response.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Michael Toole AM

Associate Principal Research Fellow


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