Coronavirus curve continues to flatten – but complacency remains a concern

Matt Woodley

13/04/2020 1:36:05 PM

National cabinet could announce changes to social distancing measures by the end of the month, though any relaxation would reportedly be supplemented with advanced surveillance and tracking methods.

Man wearing mask
Australians have helped reduce infection rates by largely adhering to strict social distancing measures. (Image: AAP)

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy made the comments in the wake of new government figures that show an ongoing reduction in daily case numbers since a peak of nearly 500 new infections on 28 March.
There were only 33 new coronavirus cases nationwide on Sunday 12 April, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 6325 at the time of publication on 13 April.
Politicians and health officials have warned the low figure is in part due to lower rates of testing over the Easter long weekend, but Professor Murphy nonetheless indicated the national cabinet will begin reviewing current social distancing measures.
‘The scale of measures at the moment is something we clearly do have to review,’ Professor Murphy told ABC Radio National.
‘We need to look at all of the data, look at our preparedness, and the national cabinet will be making a lot of decisions about what, if anything, can be relaxed in the coming weeks.’
However, despite evidence social distancing measures are having an effect, Professor Murphy used the example of coronavirus-related hospital closures in Tasmania to warn that complacency is still Australia’s biggest threat.
‘The thing that worries us most at the moment is complacency,’ he said.
‘Every single community transmission that’s undetected can infect a lot of people, and that’s why it is so important that we do maintain measures for the time being.’
Any loosening of social distancing requirements would reportedly be supplemented with advanced coronavirus surveillance and tracking methods.
With cases elsewhere around the world approaching two million – leading to more than 114,000 deaths – Professor Murphy also reiterated the posed by danger international travel, along with the potential for a second or third wave of cases.
‘While this pandemic is across many other countries, we’re going to need some form of border measures,’ he said.
‘[Easing travel restrictions] would be a decision for the national cabinet and government until we get a vaccine or this virus moves through the community.’
About 500 South Australian hospital staff have already been asked to participate in a medical research trial investigating the effectiveness of the BCG vaccine against coronavirus, but chief health officers have consistently maintained a vaccine is 12–18 months away.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has also cautioned it would be ‘very dangerous’ for governments to relax restrictions without the approval of public health experts, and said Australia should learn from second wave experiences in Singapore and Japan.
‘The Australian people are prepared for restrictions for as long as it takes, to be honest, because we have got to take the medical advice,’ Mr Frydenberg said on the ABC’s Insiders.
‘Complacency is a problem, and everyone needs to understand that this is a very fluid and difficult situation.
‘When you look around the rest of the world, the United States, Europe, parts of Asia, even closer to home, we don’t want to have those experiences and so far our medical experts and those on the frontline are the real heroes of the crisis.’
The RACGP has more information on coronavirus available on its website.
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Dr Ian Mark Light   14/04/2020 8:49:45 AM

Australian Health and Government has acted with considerable acuity in this crises and have recognised their will have to be more “respiratory clinics “ with rapid testing to create Warning reports of what organisms are circulating when the URTI -LRTI season arrives .
Hopefully the social distancing will mean less respiratory infections but some exercise fresh air and sunshine ought be rational .

Dr Tatiana Cimpoesu   16/04/2020 9:18:15 PM

The one very important thing is clarity regarding preventative measures! The government message should be "keep safe distance and avoid any type of crowds", not just "stay indoors".. Outdoor is less of a risk for spreading any viruses and fresh air and sunshine are important for our physical and mental health. As long as we are not in close proximity to others. Shopping centres on the other hand, are conglomerates of different microbes shared by people breathing the same airspace for hours!