Australia dodges worst-case virus scenario

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Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Strict social distancing measures have prevented Australia’s intensive care units from being overwhelmed by up to 35,000 coronavirus-stricken patients.

Doherty Institute modelling provided to federal and state leaders and released publicly on Tuesday looked at a worst-case scenario based on international experience.

It showed if no action had been taken to stop the spread of the disease, around 23 million people, or 89 per cent of the population, could have been infected.

Under that scenario, the health system would have crumbled and just 15 per cent of people who needed intensive care would have been able to access it.

The modelling prompted the strong social measures now in place across the country, with gatherings, travel and economic activity curtailed.

It showed the strain on the system could be massively reduced if Australia turned to quarantine and social distancing.

As a result of those measures, the infection curve is trending in the right direction and authorities are cautiously confident the health system will cope under the strain of the coronavirus.

Now the modelling effort will turn to Australian data in coming weeks, as health chiefs mull when restrictions may be relaxed.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed the data released so far does not equate to a prediction.

“The modelling work is theoretical,” he said on Tuesday.

“It is not based on Australian case data and does not model Australian responses.

‘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.”

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