To reducing the rate of Covid-19 infection, Australia has great success in physical distancing measures have had great success.
So what are the scenarios for Australia to choose from, and what might each exit strategy look like?
Aim for zero active cases in Australia:
New Zealand pursues the total elimination goal.
The Victorian government has pursued this strategy by calling early for a full lock-down.
Fewest hospital admissions and deaths.
A more sustainable easing of restrictions in the medium term, allowing more comprehensive resumption of economic and social life.
Does not depend on holding out long enough to develop a vaccine.
Requires maintaining the tightest possible restrictions – including bans on gatherings of two or more and venturing outside for “non-essential” purposes – at least in the short term.
Fewer cases means fewer Australians with some immunity to corona virus.
Strict quarantine needed to prevent people reintroducing corona virus from overseas.
Flatten the curve
To ensure intensive care units are not overwhelmed, people should reduce transmissions through physical distancing. This has been the commonwealth government’s stated aim as restrictions were phased in through March.
Reduce the number of deaths relative to a laissez faire approach.
Allows some aspects of economic and social life to continue in the short term, using physical distancing short of a full lockdown.
Some immunity in the population.
Large-scale events would need to stay banned, including live sport, entertainment, large parties and religious services.
Restrictions may need to be in place longer.
Active cases may cause further flare-ups.
Remove restrictions on the basis the virus will infect a progressively larger share of the population until critical mass (estimated to be 60%) have some immunity to it and the virus struggles to spread further.
However, Hunt said if it required 60% of the population to get the virus, that would be 15 million Australians, making the strategy “unthinkable” if the death rate is even just 1%. Therefore, the federal, state and territory governments through the national cabinet and almost all public health experts are in the opposite side.
Allows the fullest and most immediate lifting of restrictions and resumption of economic and social life.
Higher rate of infection, and higher number of deaths.
Exposes vulnerable populations including older people, immunodeficient and front-line health care workers to the greatest risk.
Mix, match and trial eased restrictions
Progressively lifting restrictions and reimposing them if necessary, allowing experimentation with individual states and territories able to set their own policies, including different restrictions at a regional level.
A flexible approach rather than one size fits all, allowing restrictions to ease in states or regions that have successfully achieved elimination or with fewer cases.
Provides better information about which restrictions work and which can be dispensed with.
A phased approach will see sections of the Australian economy emerge from hibernation sooner.
Greater potential for public confusion with different rules applying by state, city or region.
Could be a stop-start process with restrictions lifted only to be reapplied.
For the latest advice, information and resources, go to Paul Karp - https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/15/pros-and-cons-what-are-the-exit-strategies-for-australias-coronavirus-crisis#maincontent
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