Health bosses warn THOUSANDS of Australians could die from coronavirus

Health bosses warn THOUSANDS of Australians could die in one state alone in a worst-case coronavirus scenario

  • Health bosses held a press conference Tuesday in Melbourne as virus cases rise
  • Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton updated media
  • Ms Mikakos said worst-case scenario modelling suggests thousands could die
  • She added that governments must operate to brace for worst-possible outcomes
  • Both said the degree of severity will depend on Australians compliance to rules 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Health bosses have warned thousands of Australians could die in a worst-case coronavirus scenario as cases throughout the country continue to rise. 

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton held a press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday to provide an update on Victoria’s COVID-19 cases. 

They said current models anticipate the virus will peak between May and June.     

‘We are looking at many thousands of lives lost,’ Ms Mikakos said. 

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton pictured at a press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 to provide an update on Victoria’s COVID-19 cases

Ms Mikakos said those figures apply to Victoria alone.   

Mr Sutton said that health systems in Italy, Spain and US have been overwhelmed and Australia’s could follow suit if the rate of infection continues to surge. 

The pair added that the virus could only be contained if people follow the government’s social distancing measures  

When asked how many deaths could be expected according to softer models, Ms Mikakos did not provide figures, but said every scenario is expected to have significant effects.

‘This is a very serious situation regardless of whether it’s a mild, moderate or severe scenario just because of how highly transmissible it is and the impact it has on the elderly and vulnerable,’ she said.

‘What I want to stress today in terms of modelling, our fate is in our own hands. We can reduce the number of lives lost if we all do the right thing.’

Mr Sutton told reporters in a milder outbreak scenario patient numbers should  remain within the state’s ventilator capacity. 

Victoria has 1,000 ventilators, and has ordered 2,000 more to treat an expected rise in coronavirus patients. 

Dozens of people queued outside of a Centrelink in Melbourne on Tuesday to apply for benefits as business closures push Australians out of jobs

Overnight, there have been 64 new cases in the state, bringing the total to 411. 

Ms Mikakos said there were now 378,000 cases of infection internationally and figures were dramatically increasing.

She added that the first 100,000 cases grew internationally over three months, the second 100,000 over 12 days and the third only in three days.   

In Victoria, COVID-19 induced hospitalisations have significantly increased, including six on Monday and 12 on Tuesday.   

It comes as the state officially shut down on Monday to fight the deadly coronavirus, which has infected more than 1800 people nationwide and killed eight.

Hospital visits have been limited, schools holidays brought forward and courts adjourned, while the hospitality industry has almost ground to a halt.

A 500-strong coronavirus task force is being set up by Victoria Police to enforce the closure of non-essential services and mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers.

Venues including pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas and schools are closed for at least three weeks. Restaurants and cafes are restricted to home delivery and takeaway services.

 

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