Virus may never be ‘completely eradicated’
The federal government is bullish its strict social distancing measures is helping to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus through reducing the spread of the pandemic across Australia.
But the heath minister has warned the virus may never be completely eradicated. And an infectious diseases expert has said the virus could rear up again and measures, such as closing pubs, might need to stay in place until spring.
The population retreating indoors and gathering sizes being restricted has helped halve the growth rate of new infections, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Friday afternoon.
Just 13 days ago, he said, it was forecast that there could now have been more than 10,500 national confirmed cases - but that number is currently under 5500.
"We've been able to get the growth in the virus down a bit, but it still needs to go further," Mr Morrison said.
"That is a tribute to the work that has been done by Australians in getting around and supporting the very sensible measures that have been put in place all around the country by the state and territory governments.
The rate of daily growth has fallen to about seven per cent after being as high as 30 per cent last week but the Prime Minister implored Australians to adhere to the many and various measures.
"We must continue to do this," he said. "Doesn't matter what the temperature is. If it's a warm day, don't go on masses down to the beach.
"(This) isn't just the government asking you to do this, it's your fellow Australians asking you to do this because by complying with those arrangements, and supporting those arrangements, you're supporting your fellow Australians."
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government's initial modelling will now need to be reassessed because of the growth rate dropping "far further and far quicker" than expected, according to The Australian.
But he said there was still a long way to go.
"The expectation is the viral period is approximately six months,'' the minister said.
"Nobody is saying it will be completely eradicated but it will be at low levels and you'll be on constant watch.''
Australian National University infectious diseases physician and microbiologist Professor Peter Collignon said the recent results addressed the key goal to "flatten the curve".
"We've not only flattened it, we've turned it around," he told news.com.au.
"It's going downwards which is really good because the demand for hospital services is dependent on how many new cases you get.
"And the whole point of flattening the curve was to keep the demand constant rather than through the roof."
But Prof Collignon said to interpret this "good news" as Australia breaking the back of the pandemic was inaccurate.
"We've got winter coming, and winter is when viruses transmit more often," he said.
"That's why all the things we've had in place - the closing of clubs, pubs etc for social distancing - we're going to have to continue until at least September."
VICTORIA DOUBLES DOWN ON ACTIVITIES BAN
The Victorian state government has doubled down on bans on outdoor activities, banning "all recreational activities beyond basic exercise".
Amid confusion over bans on outdoor recreational pursuits including fishing and golf, both of which are permitted in NSW, Victoria's chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said people must stay at home.
"Unfortunately, this means no fishing, no hunting, no boating, no camping, and no golf," Professor Sutton said.
"Hang up your rods, leave the tinnie in the driveway, and clean your clubs at home.
"We ask Victorians to stop looking for loopholes. Just do the right thing. The advice is clear; by staying at home you're saving lives.
"These restrictions are tough, but they are there for a reason.
"If we don't do this, Victorians will die. No round of golf or gym session with your mate is worth that cost."
Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly reminded Victorians "if you can stay at home, you must stay at home."
His "stage three" restrictions, in force since Monday, ban people from leaving home except for food and supplies, medical care and care giving, exercise, and work or education.
Individuals risk on-the-spot fines of $1652 or a maximum penalty of $20,000 if prosecuted in court.
Originally published as Virus may never be 'completely eradicated'