Thursday, July 29, 2021

The official student newspaper of Methodist Ladies' College, est. 2020

Coronavirus update, an aged care crisis and Epic Games files lawsuit against Apple and Google: 10/8-16/8

Coronavirus Update  

Since the initiation of Stage 4 restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne on Sunday the 2nd of August, the state has seen a hopeful decline in case numbers. 303 cases were recorded on Saturday- a stark contrast to the 715 new cases 10 days prior. The Victorian Chief Health Officer has spoken of his optimism for a downwards trend and possible easing of restrictions regarding family visitation. Yet vigilance was still reminded with the announcement on Sunday of a further four weeks of state emergency, granting police the power to enforce isolation orders. 

Meanwhile New Zealand, which had already eliminated coronavirus cases in the community for a period of time, saw this week mark the country’s first cases of transmission in 102 days. Thus far, 69 people have been linked to the outbreak. This sparked an announcement on Friday of a 12-day Stage 3 lockdown in Auckland to re-contain the outbreak.   

Around the world, other countries that appeared to have initially successfully contained the virus have also seen upticks in case numbers. Yesterday, South Korea recorded its highest number of cases in five months, perhaps a timely reminder of the virus’ persistent nature as we battle the toll of “lockdown fatigue” and associated rule-breakers. 

Aged care crisis 

It has been a week of damning revelations regarding Australia’s aged care, as evidence was shared amongst the royal commission regarding the nation’s system of management. To date, 70% of Australia’s COVID-19 death toll is attributed to aged-care residents, and more than 1100 health-care workers are infected. 

The commission slammed a lack of preparation and urgency during the height of the pandemic, as well as aged care facilities’ failure to learn from past mistakes; the same struggles of poor communication and slow responses once again emerge in Melbourne, months after reports are published regarding Newmarch and St Basil’s own aged care facility outbreaks. 

In a scathing analysis, none of the problems associated with Australia’s aged care system were deemed to be unforeseeable. In particular, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation secretary Annie Butler, claimed that aged-care workers were allegedly told to use only one glove, or reuse personal protective equipment. Yet these claims were slammed and disputed as “frankly insulting” by deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth. 

In the wake of Victoria’s second coronavirus wave, there are 2,041 active COVID-19 cases linked to 124 different outbreaks in aged care homes across the state. Almost two-thirds of the state’s coronavirus deaths are linked to this sector. At a press conference on Friday, Prime Minster Scott Morrison addressed the failings of the aged care system, deeply apologetic over the shortcomings in the aged care sector. “On the days that the system falls short, on the days that expectations are not met, I’m deeply sorry about that, of course I am. I know that everyone who is involved in the process who is trying to meet those expectations is equally sorry,” Mr Morrison said. But the PM continues to deny allegations regarding the lack of planning and continued inaction to contain outbreaks in aged-cared facilities.  

Yet in addition to the COVID-19 transmission crisis occurring in these facilities, there have also been numerous allegations of mistreatment within these homes. One such story details a resident left with ants crawling in her blood-crusted bandages. Taken from a home in north-west Melbourne, it accompanies details of residents being unable to access fresh food and water for up to 18 hours. This story is perhaps indicative of a broken aged care system, where workers being furloughed or forced into quarantine means there is simply not enough staff to meet demands- plummeting the quality of patient care. 

Epic Games files a lawsuit against Apple and Google 

This week has seen an escalation in Apple’s controversial policies regarding its App Store, which now involves Epic Games’ Fornite and Google.  

So, what sparked this? 

On the 13th of August, Epic Games passed a new update that allowed users to bypass the official payment systems for Apple and Google, paying directly in-app instead. This announcement caused the game to be removed from both the App Store and Google Play Stores, resulting in Epic Games filing a lawsuit against both companies.  

The lawsuit announcement was via a parody of Apple’s iconic 1984 advertisement, labelling Apple as a monopoly that stifled other competition. 

The main reasoning behind this decision was to challenge Apple and Google taking a 30 percent cut from all purchases on their respective app stores. With 250 million players, Fornite has the largest game community in the world. Yet the game as well as future updates, are now inaccessible to any iOS user, though still available on alternative Android stores.  

Epic’s lawsuit against Google accuses the tech giant of abandoning its idealistic roots and emphasises Android’s claim that its open ecosystem is a “broken promise.” 

Similarly, Epic’s lawsuit against Apple claims that the company has become a “behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition and stifle innovation”. This cry that has become increasingly vocal amongst many prominent developers opposing the so-called “Apple Tax”, whilst simultaneously questioning Google’s policies of excess restriction and taking too high commissions for developers to earn profits. Such claims have also raised concerns about anti-competitive behaviour within respective stores, which distort competition in preference of their own company apps. 

Further criticism has come from Spotify and other companies who filed complaints with the European Union’s Competition Commission, focussing on gatekeeping methods and unfair practises. Even Facebook has weighed in on the matter, citing how the “Apple Tax” hinders the development of small businesses.  

It appears that Fortnite is only one of many games to be banned from the App Store, alongside Stadia and Microsoft xCloud. Such restrictions possibly jeopardize the future of gaming within the Apple ecosystem.  

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