Australia is showing the world how to fight coronarviruses with a rapidly declining infection rate and minimal deaths – but part of that success can be attributed to luck.
While the main western countries measure deaths by the thousands – and the total number of tens of thousands – Australia has just killed 50 people.
This comes from a population of over 25 million and nearly three months after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country on January 25.
While no one has yet declared a victory, Australia has managed to smooth the infamous curve, with daily infections peaking at 460 on March 28 and declining most days since.
As of Thursday, there were 6,089 cases of COVID-19, with a death toll of only 51 – and 15 of them can be attributed to an epidemic on the cruise ship Ruby Princess.
Nations including the United States (435,128 cases with 14,795 deaths) and the United Kingdom (60,733 and 7,097) are struggling to contain the virus, but Australia may have already found some of the keys to success.
Germany, which has been praised for its low death rate from COVID-19, now has 113,296 cases and has recorded 2,349 deaths.
Australia is showing the world how to fight coronarviruses with minimal death, slower infection rates and a little luck. Although no one reports a victory, the nation’s highest number of daily infections was 460 on March 28 and it has declined on most days since
The military has been deployed to help enforce Australia’s quarantine rules. All travelers were required to isolate themselves for 14 days. Soldiers are pictured awaiting the arrival of foreign passengers at Sydney Airport on March 30.
Australia performed 319,784 COVID-19 tests, compared to 282,074 in the United Kingdom (approximately 67 million inhabitants) and 2.2 million in the United States (approximately 328 million inhabitants). A cyclist is pictured at the Bondi Driving Test Clinic on April 7
Australian health experts say the infection rate has stabilized due to widespread testing, carrier screening, self-isolation of those at risk and strict rules of social distancing.
Of course, the number of infected patients registered in any country is limited to the number of carriers who have actually been checked for the disease.
With a strong existing public health system, Australia has one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 testing regimes in the world.
So far, Australia has performed 319,784 tests, compared to 282,074 in the United Kingdom (about 67 million people) and 2.2 million in the United States (about 328 million people).
The border closings and Australia’s decision to ignore the World Health Organization’s early insistence that there was no need to restrict travel to and from China also appeared to have protected the country against the worst-case scenario of 150,000 deaths.
How Australia is doing in the coronavirus war
Tests: 282 074
There have been failures, including letting cruise ships dock and disgorging infected passengers, but these losses have been outweighed by victories.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison believes restrictions on COVID-19 may have prevented tens of thousands of infections that would otherwise have occurred.
Chief Physician Brendan Murphy said, “We know the tools we use are working and we can increase and decrease them as needed, and the data now available suggests that they work. “
If the crisis is far from over, there is are signs that it is detecting COVID-19 better than many other countries and is slowing its spread.
Professor Tony Blakely, epidemiologist and specialist in public health medicine at the University of Melbourne, said that Australia had done better than expected.
“I think we have been remarkably successful and some of the headlines look really good,” said Professor Blakely.
“We have actually managed to significantly reduce the workload. Very impressive. Good game.’
Health experts say the key to stabilizing infections in Australia has been widespread testing, tracing carriers, self-isolation of those at risk and strict rules of social distancing. Two police officers are photographed in front of the Sydney Opera House on April 6
New York hospitals were forced to use sheets to wrap the bodies because they had run out of body bags. Dead bodies are pictured being loaded onto a truck outside the Brooklyn Hospital Center on March 31
A 4,000-bed temporary hospital has been set up in London’s ExCel center to treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Medical personnel are pictured unloading a stretcher on April 8
As an island continent that can only be reached by long sea or air travel from most of the world, Australia should have certain natural advantages in the fight against pandemics.
Professor Blakely said that Australia’s lower infection rates compared to countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom may be partly due to the country’s geographic isolation.
Australians “satisfied” with COVID-19 management
According to Roy Morgan’s research, almost two-thirds of Australians (65%) say that the federal government manages COVID-19 well.
Among Australians who agree that the government is handling the crisis well, 21% “strongly agree” while at least 44% “agree”. Only 6% “strongly disagree”.
Fewer Australians – 59% – still believe the worst is yet to come for the pandemic in the next month, compared to the week before.
The figures come from a national web survey of 987 Australians over the age of 18 over the weekend.
The number of Australians who fear that they or someone they know will catch the virus has dropped slightly to 73%.
Four out of five Australians were ready to sacrifice some of their human rights if it helped prevent the spread of the disease.
“We had another 10 days to react and prevent this from happening,” he said.
“We worked hard to keep it from happening, but we were also lucky to be at the bottom of the world, we had a little more time to react. “
Asian neighbors who acted quickly against the coronaviruses, including Taiwan (379 cases, five deaths) and Singapore (1,623 and six) fared even better.
“You can also say that our geographic proximity to Asia and see how Singapore, South Korea – China to some extent – have really reacted very well and maybe emulate them a little more than some of the western countries could be a little reason, “says Professor Blakely.
“But most of all I think we had a little more time to respond. “
The first case of COVID-19 infection in Australia – a Chinese citizen who arrived from Guangzhou on January 19 – was reported in Melbourne on January 25.
Six days later, Australia banned the entry of foreign nationals from China and ordered citizens returning from that country to isolate themselves for 14 days.
On February 3, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, always said that there was no need to take measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade.”
Australia’s self-isolation restrictions have been extended to those who return from Iran on February 29, from South Korea on March 5, and from Italy on March 11.
This rule was extended to anyone entering the country on March 15 and the country’s borders were closed to everyone except citizens and residents from March 20.
This graph shows COVID-19 infections since 100 cases were confirmed (top to bottom) in the United States, Spain, United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore
Australia has strict border controls with heavy penalties. Motorists are pictured crossing a level crossing between New South Wales and Queensland on April 2
A policeman is shown talking to a driver at a checkpoint on the border between New South Wales and Queensland. Australians asked to stay at home during pandemic
Social distancing rules began with a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people on March 13. The premises including pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and places of worship were closed to the public from March 23.
A week later, public gatherings were limited to two people. Australians could no longer leave their homes except for work, education, essentials, exercise, and medical or compassionate needs.
Breaking draconian rules carries severe penalties. Last week, a 21-year-old man in Newcastle, north of Sydney, was fined $ 1,000 for eating a kebab on a park bench after exercising.
Although there have been objections to interpretations by state police of what is a valid reason for being away from home, there have been no serious civil disturbances.
According to Roy Morgan’s research released this week, almost two-thirds of Australians (65%) say the federal government is managing COVID-19 well.
Australia’s worst border violation occurred on March 19 when the cruise ship Ruby Princess was cleared to dock in Sydney Harbor and dump nearly 2,700 passengers onto the streets.
About 600 cases of coronavirus have since been linked to the ship, but authorities have been diligent in locating those who may have been infected by its passengers.
Australia has one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 test regimes in the world. Motorists are photographed at the Drive-through clinic in Bondi
Health experts have attributed the stabilization of infections to measures such as strict border restrictions, self-isolation rules and social distancing. The manly beach of Sydney is represented
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Tuesday that the country is flattening the curve that appears in graphs representing daily recorded infections of COVID-19.
Of the country’s highest daily number of infections (460) on March 28, 105 new cases were reported on April 8.
CORONAVIRUS IN AUSTRALIA: 6,105
New South Wales: 2,773
South Australia: 421
Western Australia: 495
Australian Capital Territory: 100
Northern Territory: 28
TOTAL CASES: 6,105
One of the scientists who worked on new modeling released on Tuesday suggested that Australia could have exceeded its peak infection rate.
Professor James McCaw of the Doherty Institute at the University of Melbourne said the government acted early and can now make informed decisions.
Researchers expected a further decline in the number of cases, but if the country returned to normal now “we would witness a rapid and explosive resurgence of epidemic activity,” said Professor McCaw.
“We are in a very fortunate position where we can think of the next steps and the very difficult questions that lie ahead in a position of relative calm as opposed to the crisis. “
“We do not yet have an overwhelmed hospital system, and we may never have one if we continue to base our responses on the best data available. “
Modeling by the Doherty Institute, based on international data, suggests that it is government restrictions that are reducing the spread of the virus.
According to the modeling, if no action was taken, 89% of Australians could get the virus and only 15% of people in need of intensive care beds would get one, causing massive deaths.
Chief Physician Brendan Murphy (photo) says, “We know the tools we use are working and we can scale them up and down as needed, and the data now available suggests they work.”
Australian federal police are pictured speaking to travelers arriving at Brisbane Airport on April 3. Only residents or those with a permit are allowed to enter the state while fighting COVID-19
With social distancing measures and strict quarantine of the sick, the proportion of people infected would be 12% and only 5% would need medical care, which means that the health system could cope.
Professor Murphy said that Australia has reduced its infection rate even faster than modeling has suggested.
“We are in no way in trouble at the moment, but we are in a relatively strong position to keep up the pressure and plan our next approach,” said Professor Murphy.
“We cannot let go of what we have done. Complacency is our greatest risk.
Professor Blakely said it was unclear which measures to reduce coronavirus infection worked best.
“We don’t know,” he said. “Because countries have put all of these interventions together, it’s not like we have randomized trials of what happened.
“However, I think we can make some careful expert inferences here and it just reduces the number of contacts each person has with the other, which has greatly reduced the ability of the virus to transmit. “
Professor Tony Blakely said that more research is needed to assess the relative benefits of reducing human contact in the workplace, in schools, on public transport and elsewhere.
Kiwi PM declares a coronavirus victory
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern thanked the nation for joining the fight against COVID-19. “You are breaking the chain of transmission,” she said.
By Alisha Rouse for Daily Mail Australia and Australian Associated Press
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the foreclosure of his country a success after a staggering drop in daily business to just 29 Thursday.
“We are taking a turning point and your engagement means that our plan is working,” said Ardern.
The number of infections has declined for the fourth day in a row, providing the best evidence to date that New Zealand has stopped the spread of the deadly disease.
The country has suffered only one death from respiratory disease, with only 992 confirmed cases. Only one New Zealand died.
A fortnight ago, the New Zealand government put in place a company-wide lockdown with particularly strict restrictions on businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Evidence from the first half of the lockout suggests that Ardern believed her country was winning the fight.
“Halfway through, I don’t hesitate to say that what the New Zealanders have done in the past two weeks is huge,” she said.
“Faced with the greatest threat to human health that we have known for more than a century, the Kiwis have discreetly and collectively established a national defense wall.
“You are breaking the chain of transmission. And you did it for each other.
As of Friday, every newcomer to New Zealand will have to quarantine for a fortnight – as a measure in Australia.
There will also be roadblocks across the country to stop the Easter holidays.
“As we head for Easter, I say thank you to you and your bubble,” said Ardern.
“We have what we need to win this marathon. “You stayed calm, you were strong, you saved lives and now we have to continue. “
Professor Blakely said that more research is needed to assess the relative benefits of reducing human contact in the workplace, in schools, on public transport and elsewhere.
“We need to have an idea of the relative impact of each of them, even if it is not perfect, because that will determine who we will get out of this situation. “
Professor Blakely was still concerned that Australia had a higher rate of ICU admissions with 87 cases, compared to two in New Zealand, which has just under 5 million inhabitants.
“It means to me that New Zealand has to find these asymptomatic and mild cases much more successfully than we do and we have to have some undiagnosed disease,” he said.
Morrison warned that the country should “stay the course” because it was too early to say whether the restrictions were causing the number of cases to drop quickly enough.
“We have so far avoided the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of cases that could otherwise have occurred at this point,” said Morrison.
Australia’s beaches have been closed due to the coronavirus crisis. A woman is pictured walking to Surfers Paradise on April 7 before the beach closes for the long Easter weekend
Australia has so far recorded more than 6,000 cases of coronavirus and only 51 deaths
“And indeed, the many other deaths that could also have occurred at this point.
“It happened far beyond our expectations in how we were able to reduce this daily growth rate, and certainly ahead of what any theoretical model could have expected.
“So far we’ve avoided the horror scenarios we’ve seen abroad, whether initially in Wuhan, China, or New York in the United States, or Italy, or Spain, or even in the UK.
“They don’t have the opportunity in all of these places that we have here and now.
“The combination of our health and economic responses gives us the opportunity to plan our way through and out of these crises. “
Morrison said the modeling and relatively slow growth rate of the coranvirus in Australia “proves the theory of flattening the curve.”
“This confirms, based on this data, that by taking the actions we take, you can make a difference,” he said. “And indeed, that is what we live in Australia. We are on the right path. “
“We have saved precious time, but we cannot be complacent.”
COVID-19 RESPONSE FROM AUSTRALIA: FROM DISCOVERY TO BLOCKING
World-renowned Bondi Beach is closed due to coronavirus restrictions on March 21
The World Health Organization confirmed on January 12 that a new coronavirus is behind a cluster of respiratory illnesses in Wuhan, China’s Wuhan province.
These diseases were first brought to the attention of WHO on December 31.
Eleven days after WHO confirmed the new coronavirus strain, Australia began tracking arrivals on three weekly flights to the country from Wuhan.
Initially, the passengers received an information sheet and were asked to report to the biosecurity officials if they had a fever or if they suspected they might have the disease.
The first case of COVID-19 infection in Australia – a Chinese citizen who arrived from Guangzhou on January 19 – was reported in Melbourne on January 25.
Three other patients who returned from Wuhan tested positive in Sydney the same day.
New Wuhan-related cases were reported the following days before the federal government announced on January 31 that foreign nationals returning from China would be required to spend 14 days in another country before being allowed to enter Australia.
Australia banned the entry of foreign nationals from China on February 1 and ordered citizens to return from there to isolate themselves for 14 days.
As the virus spread further into China, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on February 27 that he was activating an emergency response plan for COVID-19.
Two days later, the government extended its existing quarantine rules to people arriving from Iran.
Travel bans were imposed on South Korea on March 5 and Italy on March 11.
The first two cases of community transmission in Australia – both in New South Wales – were reported on March 2. Until then, all cases had been imported from another country.
A human biosecurity emergency was declared on March 18.
A national cabinet comprising the prime ministers and chief ministers of all states and territories was formed on March 13, the first time such a body had been formed since the Second World War.
At its first meeting, the National Cabinet announced that rallies of more than 500 people would be canceled, but schools, universities, workplaces, public transportation and airports were not included.
Two days later, Morrison announced that starting at midnight, anyone arriving in Australia should self-isolate for 14 days. Cruise ships were prevented from docking in the country for 30 days.
Unfortunately, exceptions have been made for several ships already returning to port.
Le 18 mars, le bateau de croisière Ovation of the Seas a accosté à Sydney et environ 3 500 passagers ont débarqué. Au 1er avril, 79 passagers avaient été testés positifs au COVID-19.
Le 19 mars, M. Morrison a annoncé que l’Australie fermerait ses frontières à toutes les personnes qui n’étaient ni citoyens ni résidents à partir de 21 heures le lendemain.
Ce jour-là, le Ruby Princess a déchargé 2 700 passagers à Sydney. À ce jour, plus de 600 cas de coronavirus et 15 décès sont liés à ce navire.
Une règle de distanciation sociale de 4 mètres carrés par personne dans tout espace clos a été imposée le 21 mars et le lendemain, NSW et Victoria ont introduit une fermeture obligatoire des services non essentiels.
Des changements plus importants ont été révélés le 22 mars lorsque M. Morrison a fermé des pubs, des clubs, des bars, des cinémas, des casinos et des lieux de culte.
Les cafés et restaurants pourraient rester ouverts, mais limités aux seuls plats à emporter et livraison.
M. Morrison a déclaré à ce moment-là qu’il souhaitait que les écoles restent ouvertes mais que les parents pouvaient garder les enfants à la maison s’ils le souhaitaient.
Le Premier ministre est allé plus loin quand, à partir du 31 mars, il a limité les rassemblements publics à deux personnes. Il a également exhorté les Australiens de plus de 70 ans, les personnes atteintes de maladies chroniques de plus de 60 ans et les Aborigènes de plus de 50 ans à rester à la maison.
Il a déclaré que seulement quatre raisons étaient désormais acceptables pour les Australiens de quitter leurs maisons: faire les courses pour les produits essentiels; pour des besoins médicaux ou de compassion; exercice conformément à la restriction de rassemblement public de deux personnes; et à des fins professionnelles ou éducatives.