Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy have revealed the modelling behind the government’s response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, including how it is preparing its health system and intensive care units.
Speaking at a press conference in Canberra following the latest National Cabinet meeting on April 7, Murphy said the “highly technical” modelling work shows social distancing and hygiene measures are “flattening the curve” of the virus. He warned that “we cannot be complacent, we must hold the line.”
Describing the first model as a “highly artificial, very unlikely” scenario in which nearly 90 per cent of the population, 23 million people, were infected at the same time, without any measures to flatten the curve, Murphy said the demand for intensive care would peak at 35,000 beds a day.
“This is where you let the virus spread, you do nothing, and treat people as they seek medical attention,” he said. “This is a horrendous scenario. You would see a daily demand for ICU beds of 30,000-plus. If you had this highly artificial, very unlikely outbreak, you couldn’t meet demand.”
The second model showed what would happen in that scenario but with measures taken to flatten the curve, including quarantine and isolation. It showed a huge reduction in the spread of the virus but that Australia would still exceed its ICU bed demand at more than 15,000 a day.
In the final model, which showed what would happen in the same situation but if quarantine, isolation, and social distancing measures were taken—measures which Australia currently has in place, the demand for intensive care beds would be at manageable levels of around 5,000.
“You can see that you very significantly drop the peak, extend the theoretical outbreak,” Murphy said, adding that the models show just how effective these measures, particularly social distancing, are in Australia’s efforts to combat the disease.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed that the model work is “theoretical,” only and that he understands the limitations of it. “It is not based on Australian case data and does not model Australian responses. The modelling does not predict what will happen in Australia,” he said.
“It does not tell you how many Australians will contract the virus or how many may succumb to that virus, or how long it will last in Australia. The modelling work is based on international data … it proves up the theory of flattening the curve,” Morrison said. “It confirms, based on that international data, that by taking the measures we are taking, you can make a difference. And indeed, that is what we are experiencing here in Australia.”
Morrison noted that future modelling data would incorporate Australian case data and modelling of the Australian responses but said the current case data is quite low, particularly that through community transmission.
Elsewhere in the press briefing, the PM announced a mandatory code for commercial tenancies to support businesses financially impacted by the CCP virus. Under the scheme, landlords will be barred from terminating leases or drawing on a tenant’s security. They will have to reduce leases in proportion to the reduction in the tenant’s business in the form of waivers or deferrals. The mandatory code will apply to tenancies where the landlord or tenant is eligible for the JobKeeper program and where they have a turnover of $50 million or less.
As of April 7, Australia has 5,895 confirmed cases of CPP virus, while 45 deaths have been attributed to the disease, which originated in Wuhan, China.