Drop in new coronavirus cases – but safeguards increase

Matt Woodley

30/03/2020 3:02:51 PM

With authorities most concerned about community transmission, public gatherings are limited to two people and over-70s are advised to stay home.

Alone on the street
A number of vulnerable groups have been told to limit leaving home ‘to the maximum extent practicable’. (Image: AAP)

The new restrictions, which will be enforced by state and territory governments, have been introduced despite early signs that indicate health authorities are having some success at reducing the rate of new infections.
At the time of publication on 30 March, 17 people had died and more than 4000 cases had been detected in Australia.
At least 55 of these cases are being treated in intensive care units (ICUs), but Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there are early signs public health measures are ‘flattening the curve’, with the infection rate dropping from 25% to the low teens.
‘These results are telling us what we are doing is working,’ he told the ABC on Monday.
‘This is now why we have to go ... to these agonising and even tougher restrictions.’
However, Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Brett Sutton has warned Australia could see ‘100,000 cases in a few weeks’ time’ if social distancing measures are not followed or otherwise strictly enforced.
‘We’re still looking at a 10% increase per day nationally. That’s an improvement, but it’s still a doubling every week,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to go down that pathway. We have to improve to a point where that curve is entirely flat.
‘If we’re not doing the right thing, that increase could be 25–30% per day. That will lead to 100,000 cases in a few weeks’ time.’
Australian Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said Dr Sutton’s reference to 100,000 cases was based on a scenario in which health authorities had ‘lost all mitigation control’, but agreed more needs to be done to reduce coronavirus’ spread.
‘What he’s saying is if we have a big community outbreak and we lost control, then you would get very rapid doubling,’ he said. ‘Now, we have no intention of getting in that situation, which is why we’re enforcing these measures.
‘But at the moment, it is still a precarious position.
‘It’s really important that every Australian does the right thing. Because for these interventions to take effect, the science shows that you need more than 90% of the population to be doing it all the time.
‘We have had a somewhat slowing of the growth in the epidemiology curve, but it’s not enough. We have to slow it further … and we have to stop the thing that’s worrying us most, which is community transmission.’
Aside from limiting gatherings to two people, state and territory leaders have also agreed playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms in public places will be closed from midnight on Monday 30 March.
People over 70, people over 60 with chronic illness, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50 with chronic illness have been told to stay at home ‘to the maximum extent practicable’.
People flouting social distancing, isolation or quarantine orders face fines of $1000 or more in most states, and around 350 Australian Defence Force personnel are supporting state and territory authorities to enforce quarantine compliance.
It will be up to the individual states and territories whether it is strictly enforced by police, and the Northern Territory has already announced it will not yet be enforcing the ban on more than two people.
The RACGP has more information on coronavirus available on its website.
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Dr Dileep Singh   31/03/2020 11:33:56 PM

The reduction in cases is a false alarm . Looking overseas scenario this is highly infectious disease and only can be controlled by full lockdown ,whether you do in beginning or when it gets spread. The only difference is taking action late causes more loss loosing more lives ,panic, getting more doctors and nurses infected and prolonged recession