‘Go now, go hard’: Full lockdown urged

 

A key member of an expert COVID-19 panel has warned the nation's death roll could rise if the Australian Government doesn't implement a harder lockdown.

Professor Raina MacIntyre from the UNSW's Biosecurity Program is on an expert panel that recommended a short but immediate lockdown to curb cases.

But she said the Government was not listening.

"The majority of people on the panel did agree with this go hard, go now approach," she told the ABC.

"The other alternative is to wait until things really get out of control and your health system starts to get infected.

"Then you try all those measures which we've seen happening in Italy and Spain and so on. But by then, the epidemic is so big that the chance of success is less and the time to recover from that is much longer."

She said the country would take a worse economic hit in the long-run if we didn't take a tough approach now.

"If you don't control the disease, your economic losses are going to be far greater and the recovery time is going to be a lot longer," she said.

The advice was put together by a panel of academics from Australia's Group of Eight Universities, and delivered in a letter to Health Minister Greg Hunt on Monday.

The advice called for stronger physical distancing measures, school closures and enhanced testing "without delay".

Prof MacIntyre said a staged shutdown approach would see the death toll possibly rising even further.

"Definitely we will see more cases and potentially more deaths," she said.

Queensland has closed its borders as authorities try to stop the spread of COVID-19. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Queensland has closed its borders as authorities try to stop the spread of COVID-19. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

 

Prof MacIntyre believes it's not too late to stabilise the death toll, but said 70 to 80 per cent of people must stop coming into contact.

During a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed a full shutdown had not been recommended.

When asked why the Government had not initiated a full shutdown, as urged by the panel, he said: "That was not recommended."

News.com.au has contacted the Department of Health for comment.

WHAT HAS AUSTRALIA DONE SO FAR?

More than 2400 cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed across Australia, with 1029 in New South Wales, 466 in Victoria, 443 in Queensland, 205 in Western Australia, 197 in South Australia, 44 in the Australian Capital Territory, 42 in Tasmania and six in the Northern Territory.

Tough new stage-two restrictions come into effect from midnight tonight and will result in a raft of businesses closing their doors.

Here is everything that will change:

• Food courts will be restricted to takeaway like cafes and restaurants

• Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas and massage parlours will close

• Community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas, wellness centres and swimming pools will shut

• Hairdressers and barbers will remain open but be restricted to 30-minute appointments

• Auctions and open house inspections will be cancelled

• Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres, non-essential facilities, community facilities such as halls will be closed.

• Boot camps and personal training sessions are limited to a maximum of 10 people

• Weddings will be limited to five people and funerals limited to 10

• Australians will also be banned from travelling overseas

• Social events like barbecues, birthdays and house parties must be kept to a "minimum" with a "very small number of guests"

• Non-urgent elective surgeries will be stopped from tonight

• NSW Police will be granted new powers to fine people who flout social distancing or self-isolation rules

Originally published as 'Go now, go hard': Full lockdown urged



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