Started by ozbob, February 29, 2020, 10:14:47 AM
QuoteThe first coronavirus case in Australia with no links to China has been confirmed, marking a new development in the spread of the deadly disease.A 63-year-old woman is currently in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the woman had recently returned from Iran, where there are more than 388 confirmed cases and coronavirus is rapidly spreading.Queensland authorities have now been tasked with tracking down people the woman may have come into contact with.
Quote from: aldonius on February 29, 2020, 10:32:57 AMEasy prediction: if it does go proper pandemic, the US is going to get hit harder than other Western countries.
QuoteA Gold Coast beautician identified as Queensland's sixth coronavirus victim had "brief interactions" with clients at Australia Fair Shopping Centre before she was placed in isolation.The 63-year-old woman returned from Iran on Monday and began working at Hair Plus on Thursday morning from 11am.She saw between 30 and 40 clients for treatments including facials and waxing before she went home sick.Once her symptoms worsened, she went to the Gold Coast University Hospital, where she was taken into isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said the risk that the woman infected anyone else was "incredibly low" because of her swift actions after identifying her "minimal symptoms"."So she is to be commended, and I would ask anyone in Queensland who has returned from overseas within the past 14 days and develops any symptoms to come forward and seek advice immediately," Dr Young said."But to be ultra-cautious, I would like any person who attended that salon on Thursday at Australia Fair ... to come forward and be seen at the Gold Coast University Hospital."Dr Young said there were no concerns for travellers who were on her flight or anyone who made contact with her in the days leading up to Thursday.She said contact tracing was under way for people the woman met on Thursday, when she began to feel unwell."The people we're most concerned about are those people who have had direct contact with an individual who is a confirmed case for more than 15 minutes, or they've been in a room for more than two hours," she said.Dr Young described the woman as a "highly intelligent, very sensible lady" for coming forward as the number of countries with coronavirus spreading increased each day.She urged others to be aware of their symptoms and the countries at risk.Health Minister Steven Miles said Gold Coast Health had established extra fever clinics to help manage demand for testing."The Gold Coast community can be proud of their public health service and confident that itis prepared for any further cases," he said.
QuoteLondon: Italy has recorded its largest one-day spike in coronavirus cases since an outbreak began one week ago as the worsening situation in Europe forces the closure of the world's most-visited museum.Authorities announced the total number of cases in Italy had jumped from 1128 to 1694 - an increase of 50 per cent in just 24 hours. The total includes the 1577 people who are sick with the virus, as well as the 34 who have died and 83 listed as cured.The outbreak is also gathering steam in France, where workers at the Louvre in Paris refused to open the iconic museum on Sunday over fears visitors could infect staff with COVID-19. There are now more than 100 cases in France.Union leader Christian Galani told the AFP news agency staff had met before the doors opened on Sunday and decided the risk was too severe given the French government had the day before announced a ban on indoor gatherings of 5000 or more people."The Louvre is a confined space which welcomes more than 5000 people a day," he said. "There is real concern on the part of staff."A statement on the museum's website said it "cannot open today" and promised to refund tickets.In other developments overnight Australian time:Australia recorded its first coronavirus-related death. The victim, 78-year-old Western Australian tourism giant James Kwan, was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was hit by a major outbreak in JapanA senior World Health Organisation official endorsed 'elbow bumps' and 'footshakes' as a safe alternative to shaking handsUS President Donald Trump said American officials would boost airport screening for passengers from high-risk countriesThe number of cases in the United Kingdom rose by 12 to reach 35 as the British government prepared to release a new plan to tackle the outbreakOf the 1577 people who have the virus in Italy, nearly 800 are in home isolation, 639 in a stable condition in hospital and a further 140 in intensive care.Nearly 1000 of the cases are in the Lombardy region to Italy's north where authorities last week placed a quarantine cordon around nearly a dozen small towns.American Airlines has said it will immediately cease all flights to Milan, the capital of Lombardy, until the end of April, citing a lack of demand.The Australian government has upgraded its travel advice for Italy to urge citizens to reconsider their need to travel to towns isolated by local authorities.The towns are Codogno, Castiglione d'Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo, San Fiorano and Vo' Euganeo. The updated advice says travellers should "exercise a high degree of caution across all of Italy".The Italian government has announced a €3.6 billion ($6.08 billion) stimulus package for businesses affected by a dramatic drop in tourism. Milan, Venice and Rome have been badly affected amid reports that some hotels have experienced an 80 per cent reduction in bookings for March.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the government's COBRA emergency committee on Monday as the number of cases in the United Kingdom rises to from 23 to 35.UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he would not take any potential responses "off the table", including sealing off affected cities as has been done in China."There's clearly a huge economic and social downside to that but we don't take anything off the table at this stage because you've got to make sure that you have all of the tools available if that is what's necessary," Hancock said."I want to minimise the social and economic disruption, and at this stage we still have the hope – although the numbers elsewhere are rising fast – we still have the hope that we might be able to avoid this outcome."He also said a research paper that found 500,000 UK citizens could die from a COVID-19 pandemic was a "reasonable worst-case scenario".The British government is working on a new set of emergency powers in case the virus spreads across the country and will release the proposals early this week.
QuoteUp to 100 people a day are being tested for the coronavirus in Queensland amid fears the COVID-19 outbreak may have already started and its economic impact will prove long-lasting.Even before an Australian outbreak is confirmed, the travel restrictions have taken a toll on the economy, with Queensland particularly exposed due to its reliance on overseas tourists and students.Health officials are discussing the situation every day and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will host a Cabinet health subcommittee meeting this afternoon.In an effort to support small and medium businesses, Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad today offered six-month payroll tax deferrals, backdated to February 1 when the first restrictions were imposed."We don't know how long the coronavirus will affect our economy," Trad said, repeating Treasury's warnings of a $1.7 billion hit to Queensland this financial year alone."That's why government needs to step up, and we need to support Queensland businesses, and we need to support Queensland workers."However, Trad warned of a "ripple effect" if China's domestic response to the crisis slashed Australian exports, with falling coal prices already reducing the state's anticipated royalty take. Key financial indicators, and the government's budget position, are deteriorating."These are very unpredictable times," Trad said, ahead of delivering an election-year Budget on April 28.With the Australian stock market falling, and the Reserve Bank expected to cut interest rates tomorrow, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under increasing pressure to commit to an economic stimulus package. Worse-affected countries, such as Japan, have rolled out stimulus measures, but Morrison last week said he would carefully target any spending and not "splash it around".Over the weekend, Queensland Health leapt into action after a Gold Coast beautician, who had recently returned from Iran, reported symptoms confirmed to be COVID-19.Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said none of the woman's clients were considered to be at serious risk, nor her fellow airline passengers, but authorities had assessed several clients and also other staff as a precaution.Across the state, up to 100 people are being tested every day for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19."Could I please ask every single person in Queensland who has returned from overseas and who has become unwell – with any symptom at all – to immediately seek medical advice," Dr Young said."That's the way that we will be able to continue to contain this virus so we don't get community transmission of the virus."There have so far been 29 cases in Australia, and one man has died after falling ill on the cruise ship Diamond Princess. The Commonwealth has imposed travel restrictions, most recently on Iran, however there are concerns the coronavirus will continue to spread through countries – and even communities – without warning.In a $20 million budget measure, Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles has moved to bring forward more elective surgery, in anticipation of a COVID-19 outbreak causing a blowout in waiting times.Any outbreak, coinciding with the normal flu season, would put significant pressure on the health system. Young has urged people at risk to have their flu shot.
QuoteThe Australian has revealed that Chinese travel agents are marketing bespoke "14-day, 13-night" packages to third-country transit destinations to help Chinese students enrolled at Australian universities get around the federal government's coronavirus ban for as little as $2700 each. An estimated 65,000 Chinese students are struggling to return to Australia, putting in danger up to $2 billion in deferred fees.
Quote from: Gazza on March 09, 2020, 10:25:53 AMWhat a time to have an medical scientist onboard here
QuoteAustralians with flu-like symptoms are being told by state leaders to get tested for the novel coronavirus in an escalation of health advice that threatens to inundate the medical system.The comments comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt encourages unwell healthcare workers and others who may have had contact with virus carriers or been in a high risk area to get themselves tested.An 82-year-old Sydney man was confirmed on Sunday as the third Australian to die with COVID-19. The number of cases nationwide stands at 77, including two Australian Defence Force members who tested positive for the virus on Sunday.NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Victorian Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams on Sunday urged anyone who had a cough, runny nose or sore throat to stay home and get themselves assessed. More than 10,000 tests for the coronavirus have been administered so far.Ms Berejklian told sick Australians to be "brave and come forward" to be tested for the virus.The federal Department of Health said its advice for healthcare workers was consistent and documents are updated at daily meetings."We agree with [Victorian Chief Health Officer] Dr Brett Sutton that if you are unwell, you should stay home, and if you have an 'inkling that you might have COVID-19' you should get tested," it said in a statement.Globally, the virus is spreading. Italy on Sunday locked down more than 16 million people across the Lombardy region, including in the capital, Milan.The unprecedented step follows China's quarantine of up to 60 million people in Hubei, where the number of daily infections has slowed significantly and draconian restrictions are slowly being lifted.Worldwide, at least 3500 people have died and more than 106,000 have been infected.Federal health authorities have advised that only people who had travelled overseas or had contact with a suspected case of coronavirus and felt unwell should get tested.Mr Hunt said on Sunday that the government would rather people over-test than under-test."So, if anybody has been exposed, then the position is very clear: that if they believe they've been in contact, if they believe they've been exposed, to self-isolate."But what we've been saying is: it's the same principle that if you have flu symptoms or flu-like symptoms, then in the ordinary course of events you wouldn't be presenting. And if in doubt, get yourself tested.Updated health advice for AustraliansThe symptoms of coronavirus include:FeverCoughShortness of breath; andBreathing difficultiesIf you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080."And that's the important message - we would rather, even though it can be a little bit of a stress on the system, we would rather people over-test, rather than under-test."Mr Hunt's office later clarified that the Minister was referring to over-testing for people that may have been exposed to the virus, not just those who had flu-like symptoms.The Australian Medical Association has told health authorities to make the advice "very clear as soon as possible" as it prepares to roll out a network for GPs to consult patients online amid claims they are under-equipped for a major outbreak.Figures from the Department of Health show up to 298,000 Australians caught the flu between January and October last year.AMA president Dr Tony Bartone said all medical bodies had to "start acting as one if we're to deal with this threat" and demanded an apology from the Victorian government after it criticised a doctor for treating patients while he was unaware he had the coronavirus."The [comments] are a concern to the frontline medical profession, who have thought about nothing but the wellbeing of the community, putting themselves in the frontline, day after day, during this evolving crisis," he said.The escalation comes as Parliament prepares to face the threat of the virus. Two Defence members tested positive on Sunday. At least one travelled on flights [QF1509 and VA651] from Sydney to Canberra on February 28 and MPs and staff are now having their contacts traced to see if any may have contracted the disease.Mr Hunt said most people would ultimately know somebody affected by the virus as the government prepares for up to $1 billion in funding to treat up to 200,000 patients.Australia's government is staring down the increasing possibility of a negative quarter and will sacrifice its election promise of a surplus to pump more than $3 billion into the economy.The measures, to be announced by Thursday, will include investment allowances for businesses and incentives to keep workers in jobs as Labor calls for the rate of unemployment benefits to be lifted and for more than 3 million casual workers to be eligible for Newstart if they are forced into quarantine.Health authorities in Hobart on Sunday said a man infected with coronavirus ignored instructions to self-isolate because he did not want to miss his casual shifts at Hobart's Grand Chancellor Hotel.In Sydney, 69 students and staff members at Epping Boy's High in the city's north have been told to isolate themselves after a student tested positive for the virus on Friday, the ABC has reported.Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter will lead a national round table in Sydney on Tuesday where measures to help the casual workforce will be discussed.Labor's health spokesman, Chris Bowen, said the opposition would vote through billions of dollars in coronavirus stimulus."I know as soon as the government issues a stimulus package, Anthony Albanese will have a shadow cabinet meeting and facilitate any sensible packages through," he said.
QuoteDoctors with mild coughs or runny noses are struggling to get tested for coronavirus, leaving them with no choice but to self-isolate and stay away from their increasingly burdened hospitals and practices.Several public hospital medicos told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that they can't find a health service that would test them for the virus because they didn't meet the criteria.Sydney GP Kerryn Phelps has called for medical practitioners to be fast-tracked for coronavirus testing, after a fellow GP was told she would have to wait five days to be tested after developing cold symptoms. It can take another five days to receive the pathology results.Doctors have been repeatedly told by federal and state government health authorities not to go to work if they have any symptoms that could be signs of COVID-19.But when many have tried to get tested to protect their patients they were fobbed off because they didn't meet the threshold for testing because they had not recently travelled overseas and were not close contacts of confirmed cases."My hospital can't afford to have us all out of work for the rest of the week as I call around trying to get tested, then if I do manage to – which is looking highly unlikely at this stage – wait however many days for the results to come back," one doctor told the Herald and The Age on condition of anonymity.Healthcare workers are bracing for a deluge of people seeking coronavirus testing that have been spurred on by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt's directive: "if in doubt, get tested".RPA has moved its coronavirus clinics to a larger area to cater for the influx of patients and the government's health advice hotline Healthdirect was knocked offline several times on Monday morning due to spikes in calls.A Department of Health spokesman said the Commonwealth would soon be expanding the 1800 020 080 national COVID-19 hotline to a 24-hour service to help "support general practices manage the flow of cases".But Mr Hunt's comments were contradicted by Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, who on Monday recommended testing only for returned travellers with symptoms (a cough, runny nose and fever), or those who had been in contact with a confirmed case.GPs say they're still getting mixed messages, with public health units telling them to test anyone who has a sore throat or runny nose, including other doctors."Australia should run out of doctors working quite soon," one GP quipped after receiving the advice.Dr Phelps said a GP colleague had sought out testing to avoid putting patients at risk or being attacked like a Victorian GP ridiculed for unknowingly treating 70 patients before he was diagnosed with COVID-19.She phoned a private lab but was told there was a waiting list for testing. She was advised to drive to a hospital to pick up a testing kit, and then had to drive to another hospital to drop it off at a laboratory with coronavirus testing capability.Dr Phelps said the wait was unacceptable."We have to be able to keep healthcare workers at the frontline to look after patients," Professor Phelps said.Melbourne GP Mukesh Haikerwal has taken to swabbing patients for coronavirus in their cars.Dr Haikerwal – former federal president of the Australian Medical Association – said his busy clinic was down to its last five face masks and doctors weren't getting enough equipment or clear guidance.NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said it was crucial that healthcare workers do not go to work if they are unwell "and we are going to need to support them better with access to testing".Dr Chant said plans were being prepared to prioritise healthcare workers so they can be rapidly excluded for COVID-19 and get back to the task of caring for vulnerable patients.AMA president Tony Bartone said: "Without us, the system will not function in terms of keeping the pressure off the emergency department and the public hospitals."If you take time off there are no GPs to pull in at a moment's notice and patients require ongoing care, especially those with chronic conditions and the elderly in the community."We are not suggesting that we put people at risk but we've got to be very, very clear. If we are to be expected not to work through a sniffle, not to work through that, make it very clear and we'll comply."
QuoteRegardless of whether we classify the new coronavirus as a pandemic, it is a serious issue. In less than two months, it has spread over several continents. Pandemic means sustained and continuous transmission of the disease, simultaneously in more than three different geographical regions. Pandemic does not refer to the lethality of a virus but to its transmissibility and geographical extension.We certainly have is pandemic of fear. The entire planet's media is gripped by coronavirus. It is right that there is deep concern and mass planning for worst-case scenarios. And, of course, the repercussions move from the global health sphere into business and politics.But it is also right that we must not panic. It would be wrong to say there is good news coming out of COVID-19, but there are causes for optimism; reasons to think there may be ways to contain and defeat the virus. And lessons to learn for the future. ... > More
QuoteAGED care homes will be fortified to protect vulnerable seniors under a $2.4 billion, multi-pronged, health injection aimed at bracing Australia for its predicted coronavirus peak outbreak from May.The Morrison Government will today unveil its health response to the looming crisis, including 100 new fever pop-up clinics, free doctor consults by video and phone for isolated patients and a $30 million national coronavirus awareness campaign.Cabinet also ticked off new measures to prepare the aged care workforce and seniors which will be announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison today. The Government's economic response – including wage subsidies, tax breaks for businesses and grants – will be unveiled tomorrow.A major public health campaign will be launched within days, including a coronavirus app. The pop-up clinics will be able to handle 75 patients a day for six months.The significant health spending is separate to the multi-billion economic stimulus flagged by the government, which is expected to include support for small business."Our medical experts have been preparing for an event like this for years and this is the next step up in Australia's plan," Mr Morrison said.Fears are gripping the aged care sector about the impact an outbreak could have on nursing home residents and home care – plus the workforce – with the death rates for people in their 70s at 8 per cent. For those aged over 80, it is more than 20 per cent.A significant proportion of workers in the aged care sector are casuals. As well as boosting medical supplies such as face masks, it is understood extra cash could help increase the number of hours worked by some staff.The new health measures come as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia reached 103, including three cases confirmed in Queensland last night.Medical experts predict the peak period for infections in Australia will run from May to July. But the nation's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy flagged that the 14-day self-isolation period was under review and could be reduced, which he said would "significantly help" if possible.Prof Murphy also signalled yesterday that mass gatherings could be cancelled if there were a heightened number of person-to-person transmissions."If we had more sustained community transmission then we wouldn't hesitate to make recommendations about schools and the like,'' he said.Mr Murphy said it was not recommended that people with cold and flu-like symptoms be tested unless they were a returned traveller or had been in contact with someone who had the illness.Mr Morrison warned there would be both labour shortages and job losses, urging big business to be "team Australia" and keep workers on throughout the crisis.Industrial Relation Minister Christian Porter has called for a peace deal between employers and unions, saying now is "a very bad time for industrial action", warning it would have a "very, very large and negative effect".The 100 pop-up fever clinics established as part of the government's $2.4 billion health package will be used to test people who are concerned they may have the virus.It will prevent them from clogging up emergency rooms, freeing hospitals to deal with more severe cases. The clinics will be staffed by GPs and nurses, with the exact locations now being discussed with medical bodies.Thirty-one primary health networks will get $300,000 to help identify and set-up the pop up clinic sites and distribute protective equipment.From Friday, free telehealth services will be made available to try and limit the spread of the virus, at a cost of $100 million. It will be for people isolated at a doctor's orders, those aged over 70, indigenous Australians aged over 50, pregnant women, parents with babies and immunocompromised people.Health Minister Greg Hunt said the package would shore up the health system's capacity while minimising the spread of the disease. "We are ensuring people can access essential care in a way that reduces their potential exposure to infection," Mr Hunt said.Mr Hunt said a phone app would be developed as part of an awareness campaign, as well as radio, television and other mediums.The measures come as Australia's first drive-through coronavirus testing station opened yesterday. The Adelaide service, the second of its type to launch in the world, will test up to six patients an hour for the virus on weekdays after they get a GP referral.
QuoteDoctors with mild coughs or runny noses are calling in sick after repeatedly being told by health authorities not to go into work if they have any symptoms that could be signs of COVID-19, increasing pressure on emergency hospital rooms that are already being pushed to the brink.Victorian Royal Australian College of General Practitioners chair Dr Cameron Loy said he knew of almost a dozen doctors this week who had called in sick with mild ailments in response to comments made by Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos over the weekend.Ms Mikakos left doctors fuming when she criticised Melbourne GP Chris Higgins saying she was "flabbergasted" he went to work after returning from a trip to the US with minor cold-like symptoms.Dr Higgins did not meet the Victorian government's own criteria for testing, but decided to test himself. He treated about 70 patients before he tested positive to coronavirus."For every day that a general practitioner is not at work that is 25 to 30 patients [who] are not being seen," Dr Loy said. "If we are predicting some of the numbers that are being projected at the height of this coronavirus outbreak then we need as much of the workforce on the ground as possible."Dr Loy said some doctors had faced delays in getting tested for coronavirus, leaving them with no choice but to self-isolate from their increasingly burdened hospitals and practices.He said doctors were left "unsettled and angered" by Ms Mikakos' comments and "mixed messages" from each Australian state in relation to when they should be getting tested."They're getting a sniffle or mild cold and they're not coming into work and this is having a flow-on effect on the whole healthcare system," Dr Loy said."We simply cannot be in a position where we have differing state advice. For example, if Dr Higgins had landed in Brisbane and was working there he would have been tested. Whereas in the Victorian guidelines, it didn't really fit there so he took it upon himself to do the test. We need guidelines that go across the nation."Long queues snaked their way outside public hospitals on Tuesday, including the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where crowds of people who suspected they had contracted coronavirus waited to be tested in fever clinics, despite federal government pleas to limit testing to high risk cases.The surge in demand for testing has prompted the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand to call for urgent improvements in COVID-19 screening and testing options to ease pressures on hospitals.Australasian College for Emergency Medicine members are reporting a surge in the number of presentations related to COVID-19, including otherwise healthy patients phoning or presenting at hospital emergency departments seeking coronavirus testing."It is imperative that the right patients go to the right place and emergency departments cannot be used as default screening clinics," said the college's president John Bonning said."Screening must take place away from EDs, and hospital systems must also be prepared for an increase in coronavirus cases."Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait on Tuesday called for hospital doctors and GPs on the frontline of the public health emergency to be allowed to use their own clinical discretion to request a coronavirus test for themselves and have their results fast-tracked.It can take up to 72 hours for results of a coronavirus test to be returned.Associate Professor Rait said mixed messages around testing for GPs was fuelling anxiety in the workforce with doctors wanting to protect their patients."If doctors request a test because they believe they have been exposed to the virus they should be able to get it," Associate Professor Rait said."If a doctor has any personal concerns then he or she should be prioritised to get those results back within 24 hours to maintain the workforce on the frontline."Ms Mikakos said on Monday she was sorry for the distress felt by Dr Higgins, but would not apologise for publicising details of businesses or health centres as part of the contact tracing process.Authorities called for calm on Tuesday as the number of coronavirus cases in Australia climbed past 100.
QuoteA Gold Coast university campus has been closed, schools are on alert and major events will come under greater scrutiny as health authorities seek to prevent the transmission of coronavirus within Queensland.To date, there has been no confirmed case of locally acquired COVID-19 in Queensland, despite some cases interstate, with 18 people found to have acquired the disease while travelling.However, authorities have ordered hundreds of people to self-isolate and are poised to shut down institutions and cancel major events in an effort to contain the disease.Southern Cross University today closed its Gold Coast and Lismore campuses as a precaution. A staff member had attended workshops at both campuses last week before travelling to The Philippines where he was this week diagnosed with COVID-19.About 45 people came into contact or proximity with the man during his time on campus, while the university will today embark on a major cleaning and disinfection effort."Our priority at all times is the wellbeing of our staff, students and visitors so we apologise for this short disruption but it is the right thing to do," said Southern Cross University's Allan Morris.Two University of Queensland students have also been diagnosed with COVID-19, and one attended the St Lucia campus while contagious. There have yet to be any closures as a result however Queensland Health is conducting contact tracing.Education Queensland, meanwhile, has banned state schools from sending students or staff on overseas trips, other than to New Zealand. Individual schools have also urged parents to keep any unwell students at home, and plan for possible closures, when subjects would be taught remotely.Tonight, the Federal Government will extend its travel bans to Italy. Overseas, major sporting events have been postponed or held without spectators as a precaution, however in Australia that has yet to occur. Hobart's Dark Mofo festival has been pre-emptively cancelled, while the outcome of the Melbourne Grand Prix this weekend may set a precedent.The Queensland tourism downturn caused by the cancellation of international flights has also been compounded by a reduction in business travel, as private companies take precautions, and fewer conferences are being scheduled. The sector is the worst hit by travel restrictions and the cancellation of mass gatherings.
QuoteAustralia could dramatically reduce its death rate from coronavirus if the government acted now to "completely" close borders, cancel mass events and shut down schools and universities, the Grattan Institute says.Countries that have adopted radical "social distancing" measures, such as Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, have slowed the spread of the disease within their borders, while countries with less rigorous policies — including Italy and the US — had experienced exponential growth in case numbers and deaths.The Grattan Institute's chief executive, John Daley, told The Australian aggressive efforts in some countries to contain the spread of COVID-19 came at a significant economic cost — but appeared to have been largely successful. "Australia has choices and there will be consequences," Mr Daley said.The Grattan Institute's tough assessment came as the number of cases diagnosed in Australia, according to state health department figures released at 6pm on Wednesday, jumped to 137, having passed 100 cases only 24 hours earlier, according to the federal government's national tally.Other countries have reached a crossroads with the spread of the virus at the point of reporting 100 cases, with those taking dramatic measures such as border and school closures appearing to show a slowing in case tally rates and deaths.Japan, Singapore and South Korea appeared to have had some success while the toll in Italy has climbed to alarming levels, forcing a belated shutdown and prompting the Morrison government to announce a travel ban for foreign nationals from Italy from 6pm on Wednesday.China reached 100 coronavirus deaths just nine days after it passed 100 cases of infection, while Italy took 10 days to reach that mark. By comparison, Japan has recorded only 12 deaths, 19 days after it hit 100 cases of infection, while South Korea is up to 61 deaths, 20 days after its 100th infection.Mr Daley said: "One option is that we can introduce very significant social distancing now and also potentially close the airports to foreign travellers."The consequence of that would be you would probably see the number of cases in Australia drop to zero."The second option is that you keep doing what we are doing at the moment. At some point it is likely that we will start to see significantly more person-to-person transmission in Australia."If you have relatively non-stringent measures like Italy, you would start to see the number of cases go up pretty quickly and there would be a significant number of deaths of people over the age of 60."A doctor who heads a string of GP clinics, Muhammad Mohsin, called for an immediate four-week shutdown of all public events, schools, childcare centres and universities, as well as mass working-from-home measures."I believe the only way to stop the spread of the virus is to shut down all schools, universities, businesses and public places for four weeks," Dr Mohsin said."We urgently need to get people working from home, learning from home, and watching sport and other events from home."This is the only way we can avoid a complete and utter epidemic in Australia. Otherwise, the virus will spread and it will devastate our country and our economy. We must do it before winter arrives. This is absolutely critical."Health experts said international travel bans to Australia, imposed on visitors from countries with the largest numbers of coronavirus infections, were having "substantial" impact. The official advice to major events to date has been that there have been insufficient people-to-people transfers of the virus to justify a shutdown but this is constantly under review.They said the health system could still face huge strains over the next month with the risk of widespread local transmission of the virus from undetected cases, with people showing no symptoms unwittingly infecting others.Head of biosecurity at UNSW Raina MacIntyre said difficulties remained in controlling the virus's spread without more testing to assist case projections.Out of 137 confirmed cases in Australia, including three deaths — as of 6pm on Wednesday — Sydney remained the city with the highest number. Based on current estimates of a doubling of cases every six days, the Australian total could increase to more than 3200 in a month, with 15 per cent of those infected falling seriously ill and a death rate of 3.6 per cent.
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