The Prime Minister has made his Easter message clear: stay home.
Speaking on Tuesday, Scott Morrison released the official modelling produced by the Doherty Institute and used by the government to guide its decisionmaking through the coronavirus pandemic.
“The lesson is simple. We must continue to do what we have been doing. There is quite a journey ahead, so we must continue to adapt,” he said.
“This Easter weekend will be incredibly important. Stay at home. Failure to do so this weekend would completely undo everything we have achieved so far together and potentially worse.”
Morrison noted however, as he released the official modelling, that the “theoretical” projections came with some significant limitations.
“The modelling does not predict what will happen in Australia. It does not tell you how many Australians will contract the virus or how many Australians will succumb to that virus,” he said, noting the numbers being used were from overseas.
In it, the government maps out different outbreak scenarios that could emerge but emphasised none constitute a prediction. If Australia was to do nothing, under its worst-case scenario, the coronavirus would alone demand 35,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds a day — a “horrendous” situation that would more than exhaust the national healthcare system, according to chief medical officer Brendan Murphy.
However, in the scenario most closely resembling Australia’s, in which social-distancing, self-isolation and quarantine measures are followed, “you can very clearly see a drop from the peak,” Murphy said. “We know we could meet the ICU bed capacity.”
As of Tuesday, there were 5,844 confirmed cases in Australia, and 42 deaths, according to the Australian Government’s Department of Health. Murphy said the current flattening of the curve was working, and Australia was in a good position globally.
“We still have less than a hundred people in ICU and less than a hundred on ventilators, which is quite a low rate of serious disease,” he said.
However, Murphy maintained his biggest concern was community transmission, particularly in Sydney where there were cases of people walking around without knowing they have had the coronavirus. Murphy said it was paramount that the public health system ensures “we have enough test to test broadly”.
“More than 500 people have acquired the virus from someone in the community who doesn’t know they’ve had it,” Murphy said. “That is why we cannot relax what we are doing.”
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