Australia has become the first Western-style democracy to bring Covid-19 under control, says Dr Joe Flood, a former CSIRO Principal Research Scientist and mathematician, and principal of policy and data analysis specialist Urban Resources Consultancy.
“It was already clear by last Friday (28 March) that the exponential growth in cases had stabilised,” said Dr Flood, who has worked with global agencies on social indicators for many years. “Since then the number of cases has followed the trajectory of South Korea fairly closely and has fallen away right on cue. For five days new cases were steady at around 360, and now they have falllen to 200 and 100 cases, around a half and a quarter of the high value, just as in Korea.”
Chart: New COVID cases, South Korea and Australia - contact author
“If Australia remains vigilant, new cases should now remain fairly steady at around 100 per day. Daily hospitalisations and deaths will increase for a while, but I expect the total number of deaths during the current outbreak to be less than 120.”
The other two countries that have stabilised the disease after it became entrenched in the population are China and South Korea. China has been successful in eliminating new cases by employing extreme authoritarian measures to isolate infected populations.
South Korea, which has about double Australia’s population, had extensive experience in dealing with the MERS coronavirus in 2015. This time they embarked on the world’s largest testing program, identifying cases and tracking them through cellphones and credit cards, and publishing the de-identified trajectories of the infected individuals on GIS and social media. The authorities have continued to locate and isolate clusters of outbreaks as their major priority.
Australia has achieved a similar result by conducting the second-largest testing and isolation program (per capita) of any country. It has also promptly laid down and enforced social distancing measures with the co-operation of the public, without resorting to intrusive high-tech tracking or authoritarian measures.
"We compliment the Australian Federal and State governments on this outstanding success in a situation of unprecedented pressure, while cautioning that social distancing will need to be maintained for some time to prevent further outbreaks," Dr Flood said.
Urban Resources Consulting
Urban Resources Consulting has conducted over 80 studies for all levels of government in Australia and for many international agencies and countries. It specialises in indicators, data analysis, policy analysis, stakeholder engagement and urbrban economics.
Dr Joe Flood