Thousands of doctors call for lockdown

Doug Hendrie

18/03/2020 4:37:04 PM

But the RACGP and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer say the coronavirus response must be sustainable.

Man walking in Sydney, deserted.
The petition calls on the government to institute more drastic measures, but some experts say that isn't sustainable.

Thousands of doctors across Australia have signed open letters and petitions calling for more drastic lockdown measures to reduce the chance of an Italy-style coronavirus catastrophe.
Two separate petitions are circulating, calling on the Federal Government to act more quickly to get on top of the coronavirus crisis by taking actions like closing schools.  
But RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon has questioned claims that public health measures are being introduced too slowly, pointing to the recent flow of stronger measures such as reducing group gatherings and mandatory self-quarantine measures for new arrivals into Australia.
‘We believe we should be following the advice of medical leaders and the Government. We need a central health policy and we should be following that advice,’ Dr Nespolon said on ABC Radio National.
His comments come as Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said that a short-term shutdown of society would ‘not achieve anything’.
‘A short-term two-to-four week shutdown of society is not recommended by any of our experts,’ he said.
‘As the Prime Minister said, it could be six months or more that we have to practice these new ways of interacting. So therefore, our measures have to be sustainable.’
The RACGP’s position is backed by the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which has also thrown its weight behind the Government’s staggered approach to public health measures.
‘The AMA do not believe that the actions proposed in the letter are necessary yet,’ it said in a statement to the ABC.
‘Professor Brendan Murphy ... will provide advice on these matters at the appropriate time, based on the best available medical evidence.’
More than 2000 people have signed Perth GP Dr Hemant Garg’s letter to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, which calls for an immediate closure of schools, pubs, places of worship, gyms, cinemas, etc.
‘This would allow a steady declaration of cases of coronavirus to present to hospitals and fever clinics as their symptomatic phase develops,’ his letter states.
More than 5000 people have signed intensive care specialist Dr Greg Kelly’s letter, which argues that Australia’s demographics are more similar to Italy than China, with a higher proportion of older people.
Italy’s death rate has been double that of China’s, at almost 8% versus 4%, according to the latest figures. That may be in part due to Italy’s older population.
Dr Kelly argues that Australia could see rapid growth in cases within weeks, potentially overwhelming the health system.
The letter calls on Australia to follow China, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan, which have been very effective in reducing or ending the epidemic though hardline social distancing and contact-tracing methods.
While experts have described Australia’s initial response as slow and characterised by mixed messages, public health measures are now being implemented in rapid fashion, with recent calls for overseas Australians to return home if possible, and for all Australians to avoid travel overseas.
New restrictions on visiting aged care homes have been also introduced in a bid to prevent the virus from gaining access to the most vulnerable group in society.
The RACGP has more information on coronavirus available on its website.
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Dr Thomas Kevin Dooley   19/03/2020 7:52:01 AM

Lock down not necessary . The figures where there has been a higher number of tests ( do not show number of negative tests) indicate the same group is vulnerable to influenza the same with Coronavirus. So Isolate them ,protect them . To be truthful I am in that group , I had Influenza A in 2019, Pneumonia hospitalised , so very vulnerable. I would be selfish to expect the WHOLE COUNTRY to be sacrificed to protect me .
The suicide rate will increase, the MENTAL illness will increase , the country will go into recession , maybe the world depression. To save the what, the vulnerable.
The same people pushing lockdown want Euthanasia of the vulnerable.
Abortion .
The Climate change advocates say the world population is to high, is this nature doing a lowering at the right end.

Dr Fiona Maclean Pringle   19/03/2020 10:28:26 AM

As our borders are now almost effectively closed to incoming cases, with the mandatory 2 weeks home isolation, isn't it a good idea to have a short term lockdown with increased testing and intensive contact tracing. New Zealand is aming for a COVID-19-free country. Australia can be self sufficient for the 6 months or so to get through the winter and the worst of this. Is it too late for us to aim to be a COVID-19-free country too? After all cases are confined and traced, maybe we could take "the foot off the brake" a little, reopen schools and universities and keep up intensive testing and tracing. Our economy might show some recovery too.

Dr Ian Mark Light   19/03/2020 1:46:19 PM

There can be a limit to class rooms with more classrooms built with 10 to a class open windows shortened classes .and open air classrooms on days without rain .
Have to look at teleteaching setting up which will keep people busy and engaged .

Dr Dileep Singh   19/03/2020 8:04:29 PM

lockdown for 3 weeks You already delayed sealing borders by 3 weeks and had lot of tourists in who were carrying infection so number exploded Now if lockdown does not happen then yu can’t control explosion as we all know that self isolation doesn’t work. Even citizen coming now will bring infection so they should go through monitored quarantine . This is testing time and will be hard to control as politician delayed response by 2-3 weeks and will do same again

Dr Joseph Horvat   19/03/2020 8:43:01 PM

This my colleagues is the true pandemic no-one is real and it is here....It will wipe out many Australian's of all walks of life and change us forever. Australia is going down the same path as Italy has, as our people and our governments always want to balance people's civil liberties in favor of civil responsibilities. China, South Korea and Singapore have controlled their epidemic due to a total shutdown of people's free movement in their cities - civil responsibility over civil freedom/rights. In Australia, people continue to walk in public places with coughs, colds, fever and the like and are circulating viruses and soon to be COVID to others in our population... Total shutdown for 3 weeks to stifle transmission is what we need...then as winter hits - if we hit another 500 cases - do that again....only that will stop the pandemic .