When we’ll be confined to our homes
AUSTRALIA'S top medicos advising the National Cabinet have revealed the "trigger point" for tougher restrictions, and when Italian-style home lockdowns will be considered.
The trigger for community lockdowns will be when there are substantial spikes in the coronavirus being spread locally in specific areas, not being imported from overseas, which can be predicted to overwhelm the capacity of the health service in the region.
The Australia Health Protection Principal Committee gave the advice to the National Cabinet this week, urging them to keep school closures and full community lockdown in reserve for now, "with close daily reviews".
It also reveals lockdowns would likely be considered for specific areas, rather than being nationwide.
Queensland remains far from that point for now, with the majority of the confirmed cases which have been investigated having come from people returned from overseas.
In a statement the AHPPC, which includes Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy and chief health officers from each state, said they had previously been working towards a trigger point of when more than half the cases were locally transmitted.
"Recent international evidence suggests that action needs to be taken earlier than that point, given the lag in epidemiology," the statement said.
It is keeping an eye on "rapid growth" in Sydney, Melbourne and the Brisbane/Gold Coast regions, with more modelling being done to determine when the various health systems will be put under strain.
QUT public health emeritus professor Gerry Fitzgerald, a former Queensland chief health officer and former AHPPC member, said without substantial community transmission it was too soon for a full lockdown.
"The chances of walking down Queen Street at the moment and running into someone with Covid is very small," he said.
"If we get to substantial community based transmission that's when we'd have to do that as well."
He said the measures taken were about limiting the disease's chance to spread, with the experience out of China showing that "aggressive" steps had the best chance for success at stamping it out.
Data released from the AHPPC also showed some positive news comparing Australia after it reached 1000 confirmed cases with other countries when the reached that milestones.
Australia had seven deaths at that point, compared to more than 40 in China, 29 in Italy, 35 in the US and more than 20 in the UK when they hit that milestone.
Originally published as When we'll be confined to our homes