Australia faces a frightening choice between reducing locking measures and causing a surge in COVID-19 cases – or risking economic disaster by maintaining existing boundaries in efforts to save lives.
That is the opinion of some infectious disease and economic experts who are calling for coronavirus restrictions will be lifted to allow places such as beaches, school restaurants and cafes to reopen.
But some of Australia’s top scientists disagree, and say limiting relaxation too early can be disastrous and potentially cause health system failure.
The debate arose when Australia appeared to succeed in leveling the infection curve, with only 33 cases confirmed on Sunday – the lowest since March 12.
There were 6,325 cases in the country on Monday morning, with 59 deaths.
A security guard stands outside the quiet St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney where there is no Easter service held for people to be present on April 12. Danish political scientist Dr Bjorn Lomborg said Australia could benefit from following the relaxed pace of Swedish social long-distance steps.
Photo: NSW police ask people to move while patrolling over the long Easter weekend at Bondi Beach in Sydney on Sunday
Danish political scientist and economist Dr Bjorn Lomborg said the economic impact of locking measures in Australia is not worth the pain given because the ‘second wave’ of infection is likely to emerge in the coming months.
“The reality is, if we just want to stop the coronavirus in its tracks, we have to kill the community almost entirely, and in the long run, it’s not a sustainable solution,” he told 60 minutes.
HOW DOES THE IMMUNITY FOR COVID-19 WORK?
Scientists do not yet know how immunity to new strains of coronavirus work.
But if it is similar to other coronaviruses, once a person has recovered, he can be immune for anywhere between 18 months and two years.
This means that the recovered patient can return outside.
But if someone has a health problem or is elderly, they are still vulnerable until the vaccine is produced.
“We need to have a conversation, how much should we handle from the corona, versus how much should we avoid completely destroying the economy?
“At some point, we actually need to say” this is enough. If we go further, we will damage the economy more than a few extra people we will save “”. ”
Dr Lomborg, president of a think tank called the Copenhagen Consensus Center, compared coronavirus responses in Australia with reducing speed limits on the road.
“If you want to save everyone who died in traffic, you have to bring it to five kilometers per hour,” he said.
“Nobody will die. But of course, the point is, you don’t want to do that because that also has huge social consequences. ‘
Dr Lomborg said Sweden’s middle steps to stem the spread of the corona virus had to be emulated by Australia to avoid an economic disaster.
Sweden allows domestic flights to continue, while restaurants and schools remain open.
By slowly spreading the virus through communities, Scandinavian state health officials hope to achieve group immunity.
Flock immunity occurs when enough people are immune to the corona virus through disease exposure, or through vaccines.
But Sweden is now considering imposing tighter restrictions on citizens and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Sunday the country’s coronavirus measures were “not good enough”.
Dr Lomborg (pictured) says Australia faces a balancing act that is difficult to weigh in saving lives from the corona virus by facing an economic disaster
Australia’s daily infection rates have dropped significantly since strict travel restrictions and social distance measures have been put in place
People sit outside in the sun in central Stockholm in Sweden on Saturdays. The leading Danish political scientist has encouraged Australia to emulate Sweden’s middle steps to stem the spread of the corona virus
Professor Emma McBryde’s disease modeler and Australian National University microbiologist Professor Collignon suggest low risk demographics such as children can be used to spread the virus slowly and increase immunity.
They say the evidence shows children are less susceptible to the virus.
“If we do everything we can to ensure that no one dies from the corona virus, people will start to die because of other things,” Professor McBryde said.
“Children can be the key to getting out of locking.”
Professor Collignon added: ‘All the evidence available throughout the world are children under the age of 15 who rarely get it [the virus] and rarely experience complications. ‘
The Coast Guard tries to eliminate surfers in the water during the long Easter weekend at Bronte Beach in Sydney on Sunday
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said last month – when Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to close schools – that children appeared to be less vulnerable to COVID-19.
The Australian Government, though still firm in the belief that the herd of immunity is not the path the country must go.
“If we try herd immunity, we will end up with a large number of people who are very unhealthy and a large number of people will die so we will not approach herd immunity in Australia,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told ABC News Radio on Sunday. .
CORONAVIRUS CASE IN AUSTRALIA: 6.325
New South Wales: 2,854
South Australia: 429
Western Australia: 517
Australian Capital Territory: 102
Northern Territory: 28
TOTAL CASE: 6.325
But Professor Collignon has questioned the scientific benefits of confining Australians in their homes – rather than encouraging them to take more fresh air outside.
“If you are out in the sun – and the sun itself is a sterilizing agent – I would think if you obeyed your two-meter rule, you would be safer there than inside,” he said.
“As long as you keep your social distance and minimize the people who are closely related to you, I can’t see how it will transmit many infections.”
Experts have warned that Australian social measures that distance would mean far fewer people are immune to the deadly insect.
Strict rules that are enforced could prove to be a double-edged sword, with relaxation of locking restrictions that could potentially create a large surge in cases, scientists predict.
Overseas, in countries like the U.S. – where nearly half a million people have been infected – locking can end in only a few months, or even weeks.
This is because large swathes of the population will be attacked by viruses and die or recover, making them invulnerable.
But in Australia, not enough people are exposed to COVID-19 – meaning that it can still be fatal for parents and those who have pre-existing medical conditions.
Restrictions have seen the closure of parks, beaches, public BBQ (pictured on April 7 at Mollymook on NSW’s south coast)
Photo: Children playing at a childcare center in Helensburgh south of Sydney on April 3. “Children can be the key to getting out of locking,” said disease modeler Professor McBryde
This situation has the potential to create dangerous new social stratification in Australia, with healthy people being allowed out and elderly to be trapped in their homes until vaccines are produced.
Paul Komesaroff, Professor of Medicine at Monash University, told the Australian Daily Mail that the Federal Government’s ‘responsible’ approach to the pandemic might be a mixed blessing.
“In Britain and the United States – because political leaders are irresponsible – they have lost the opportunity to impose restrictions early and a large number of people have the disease,” he explained.
‘But that means the peaks are very, very sharp, and maybe that time for them is shorter than for us. The irony. ‘
Others, however, argue that locking restrictions are not far enough.
Professor Raina MacIntyre, head of Biosecurity at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, wrote a joint paper with three other scientists outlining the benefits of a short and sharp locking for Australia.
Scientists say Australia’s gradual approach to locking the country, adding new restrictions on a rolling basis, is not enough.
Australia has significantly fewer confirmed COVID-19 cases than other countries
A silent epidemic may grow, driven by mild or asymptomatic infections from people who do not meet our testing criteria, ‘write the scientists.
Travel restrictions have become the most successful element of Australia’s approach, but increasing social distance and failure to close schools gradually means that it is not enough.
“This will make us deal with COVID-19 longer, with new infection droplets that continue to feed the epidemic,” they wrote on the UNSW website.
“What is needed is a short and sharp lockout for two to three incubation periods (four to six weeks), combined with increased testing capacity and expansion of testing criteria.”
“This strategy, similar to the South Korean approach, will reduce the size of the epidemic substantially, save the health system and give us a more manageable baseline for protecting Australia until vaccines are available.”
They also said the steps did not have to last six months to 12 months – but only four to six weeks.
“China has shown the feasibility of a short lock followed by a gradual lifting of restrictions,” they said.
Short and sharp lockouts from four to six weeks will enable Australia to control the epidemic quickly and get these numbers to a controlled baseline.
After that, economic recovery can begin with gradual lifting of restrictions.
“The slow droplet approach, especially if schools remain open, can lead to ongoing epidemic growth, potential health system failures, and a much longer path to recovery,” they wrote.
Free kindergarten for 22,000 children: Queensland government promises to spend $ 17 million to keep 465 education centers across the state open
More than 20,000 children will have free access to community kindergartens throughout Queensland until June.
The Queensland government will spend $ 17 million on this program so that 465 centers across the state remain open for a period of 2, 2020.
“This is good news for the 22,000 children who attend community kindergartens,” Education Minister Grace Grace told the media on Sunday.
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk spoke during a press conference at the Parliament House in Brisbane, Australia, April 8
“What this announcement means is that parents can now maintain and continue their registration at the community kindergarten, because it will be free for the second semester,” he said.
He said that meant around 2,700 workers employed in community kindergarten centers would have jobs.
The move was welcomed by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission Dr Lee-Anne Perry who said it was important for young students to have continuity and stability.
Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said statements about the school for the second semester will be made on Tuesday.
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