The curve is flattening in Australia but not enough: COVID19 update

The curve is flattening in Australia but not enough

curve is flattening
Dr Dan Suan is a clinical immunologist and researcher at the Garvan Institute. For the last month Suan, with colleague, friend and consultant physician, Dr Tim Fazio, has been posting regular detailed, data-led updates to Facebook about the spread of COVID19.

One of their early posts went viral and was shared more than 10,000 times.

Their message has been unequivocal from the start: to flatten the curve in Australia and avoid a total public health crisis, shutting down and limiting contact is critical.

On Sunday, Dr Suan and Dr Fazio posted good news.

“The curve is DEFINITELY FLATTENING!!” they wrote. “We have seen a clear trend in the past four days, where the number of cases continues to grow as expected, but at a slower rate.

We see this as our curve turning slightly to become more flat (or horizontal), and our line is getting further away from countries like the UK…

This flattening reflects everything that the community and the government started doing 1-2 weeks ago; that’s how long it takes for ACTION on one day to produce RESULTS in this graph.”

Suan told his followers that this slight flattening of the curve will “SAVE NUMEROUS LIVES in 4 weeks time, because it will DELAY and REDUCE the surge of critically ill patients arriving in our hospitals.”

He said it buys Australia precious time to do numerous things including:

– treat and discharge current Covid-19 patients, freeing up beds for new patients
– get more personal and protective equipment for our frontline health care workers
– roll out a more comprehensive testing program to diagnose and isolate cases
– for scientists to work on simpler tests, effective treatments and a vaccine.

He says the Australian community should be incredibly proud of getting up to speed with the problem quickly, and “acting decisively by staying home and keeping each other safe from this virus”.

But, he also delivered some bad news: the curve isn’t flattening enough.

“Recent modelling indicated that Australia would run out of ICU beds between the 7th and 9th of April (in under two weeks time!).

With this flattening, more sophisticated modelling suggests that we will still run out of ICU beds in late April. That is ONLY a month away! One month from scenes playing out in hospitals across Europe and America, happening here in Australian public hospitals.”

Dr Suan says its tragedy we must do everything to avoid so we have to flatten the curve even more. We need to do more, and we need to do it now.

“In the past two weeks, the community has continued to adopt social isolation and social distancing. The government continues to implement other measures to isolate cases arriving from overseas.

Hopefully we will see this as further flattening of the curves in the next week or two.”

The 5 rules of strict social isolation have not changed:

1. Stay at home
2. Don’t touch anything (when you go out)
3. Don’t touch anyone (when you go out)
4. Don’t touch your face
5. Wash your hands frequently

Suan says we need to be honest. “The truth is that we are going to be in this type of lockdown for some months,” he wrote.

Social isolation is completely new for most of us; it takes a period of adjustment, and it’s difficult at times. We are asking people to suddenly live their lives in a way that is completely foreign to them.

He shares a simple trick for navigating this.

“Whenever I feel like I want to go out (and believe me, I really, really want to go out sometimes…..), I just pause and think of all the people in my life.

I think of my family; the most precious things to me.

I think of my friends; I absolutely adore my friends, they are sooooo funny, you have no idea.

I think of my colleagues; the doctors and nurses that I work with, who will be put in harm’s way if we have a hospital-based disaster like Europe and America.

I think about my patients; I love my patients, they are great people.

When I think about all of these people, I feel a fierce need to protect them from the terrible thing that is happening out there, from the terrible thing that will happen in the future if we don’t act now. And then the need I had to go out, that itch I had to leave my home, well, that simply disappears.”

We go into isolation to protect the ones we love. Stay home.

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