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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Experts denounce calls to cancel lockout in Australia

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A video from the Institute of Public Affairs calling for an end to the blockages is being ridiculed on social media, but Australia is being asked more and more to reconsider its current restrictions.

In the images, posted on the conservative think-tank’s social media accounts, political director Gideon Rozner calls for “reasonable” reopening of churches, restaurants, cafes, bars and community sport.

“Our response to the coronavirus epidemic has decimated our society, ruined thousands of lives, turned Australia into a police state and, worse, put hundreds of thousands of Australians out of work,” said Rozner.

He says it is time for the state and federal governments to come up with a plan on how to win the lockdown and let people rebuild their lives.

“Do it safely with appropriate social distancing measures in place, but do it now, not in six months, not in a month.” Now, because the Australians weren’t supposed to live like this, and we can’t allow this to continue, ”he said.

“Too much is too much. It’s time to start ending this lockdown now.”

Many have condemned the images of the free market group, saying it would endanger people’s lives.

“Are you a satirical artist of some kind? Or just a complete fool? Shut up and stop putting lives in danger, clown. In a suit, ” Actor Sam Neill tweeted.

Sydney law professor Tim Stephens said Twitter should delete the message because it compromised public health.

The API is not the only skeptical group as to whether Australia’s restrictions should be relaxed. In one opinion piece at the weekend, The AustralianSteve Waterson’s commercial editor also questioned the “ridiculous restrictions” implemented by “hysterical” governments.

Australian National University infectious disease doctor Peter Collignon also believes the restrictions in New South Wales and Victoria have gone too far.

“Don’t let people go out and sit on a park bench, for example; how will that stop transmission? he told the ABC this morning.

However, Professor Collignon does not think that Australia should reopen pubs, clubs, bars or restaurants at least until September or October.

You just have to look at what’s going on in Italy or New York to understand why.

Italy, which has more than double the population of Australia, has seen its health system overwhelmed after the virus spread to its community. It has so far recorded around 124,000 cases and 15,000 deaths. Hundreds of people still die every day, even after being locked out for several months.

In comparison, Australia has registered around 5700 cases and 40 deaths, the number of new cases decreasing.

In New York State, home to around 20 million people – less than 25 million people in Australia – nearly 4,200 people have died.

“If we just opened the doors and came back to normal, it would be an ugly area,” University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely told news.com.au.

“We would be in the Italian zone and the New York zone where their health resources are overloaded. It’s a stupid idea. “

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Allowing the coronavirus to spread within the community is dangerous because there is no immunity in the population, so more people are likely to get sick. This increases the mortality rate because hospitals are overwhelmed with patients and there are not enough ventilators or beds in the intensive care units.

“I cannot see us opening pubs and cafes again until I have received a vaccine (in about 18 months),” said Professor Blakely.

“I don’t really see how it works, but I could be wrong.”

However, Professor Blakely said he was not surprised by the pressure from the IPA to end the lockout.

“These are extraordinary times and the government took action without parliamentary control because it had to act quickly,” he said.

He said public health officials, the public and government should be commended for the response and the speed with which he reported new cases, but the new question was “now what?”.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

Professor Blakely believes it is time to reflect on Australia’s response to the coronavirus now that the new infections appear to be under control.

He said those who called for a return to normalcy as soon as possible deserved to be heard, as the economic and health consequences of a prolonged blockage would be serious.

Professor Blakely thinks that Australia could consider three options, but none has been easy.

First, he could still try to achieve complete elimination of the virus, but that would imply even stricter lockout restrictions enforced between six weeks and three months, and Professor Blakely is skeptical that this can be achieved.

The second option is to “flatten the curve,” which means that the community lives with social distancing restrictions, similar to what we currently have, until a vaccine is developed, which could be in 18 months or more.

Professor Blakely believes that the quickest way for Australians to return to their old way of life was to adopt the third option: smoothing the curve of collective immunity.

This option would still take approximately six months to complete, depending on the level of risk of governments. This would involve allowing people to become infected slowly until about 60% of the population suffers from coronavirus, in which case there would be “collective immunity” and it would be much more difficult for the virus to spread.

This option would result in the death of more people, but Professor Blakely said that if certain measures were taken to protect the vulnerable, the death toll could be reduced to around 30,000, which is only 50% higher. the number of tobacco-related deaths each year. .

Professor Blakely believes that it is time to start a public debate on the way forward for Australia and this should involve not only politicians but also epidemiologists, economists, philosophers and ethicists.

The modeling that the federal government uses to inform that its decision-making is to be released tomorrow. Professor Blakely said that this would be essential to understand the implications of the different options and what would happen if certain restrictions were relaxed.

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