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Coronavirus Australia: Why the rise in new cases is “good news”

Coronavirus Australia: Why the rise in new cases is “good news”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has said the dramatic rise in Australia’s COVID-19 cases is “good news”, for one particular reason.

The potentially deadly disease has infected over 2300 Australians – most of them from NSW – and killed 11 people, forcing the Federal Government to take increasingly drastic measures in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

While the increasing number of cases is “obviously worrying and we are concerned”, Professor Kelly said that “on one side, that is good news” because it means “we are finding the cases and they are still mostly coming from overseas”.

He said that the majority of confirmed coronavirus cases have been mild, and only 197 people – or less than 10 per cent of those infected – “have been hospitalised because they are sick”.

“We are not overwhelming the system,” said Professor Kelly.

He says the huge influx in cases over the last few days was mainly because of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which docked in Sydney last Thursday.

Over 130 passengers from the ship have tested positive to COVID-19.

The remainder of cases “are being found as part of the contact tracing exercise,” said Professor Kelly, praising the “fantastic work being done by the states and territories” to monitor the number of virus case numbers.

The process is being used to help understand how COVID-19 is spread throughout communities by finding out who the infected person caught the disease from, and who they’ve been in contact with while infectious.

Community transmission of the virus may be quite low in Australia, but Professor Kelly warned that if Aussies didn’t follow the new measures put in place by the government, we would continue to see a rise in cases.

He said that on average, a person with an infectious disease will infect three other people.

“Just imagine that – if we did not take any of the measures about social distancing and decreasing the mixing that we do on a daily basis, then one person with the disease not taking any of those social distancing or hygiene messages seriously will infect three people,” he said.

“Every one of those three people if they do not take those messages seriously will infect another three people and so on.”

Professor Kelly said implementing social distancing and decreasing the number of interactions between people is how Australia is going to flatten the curve.

“All of these fit together to decrease the transmission from person-to-person of an infectious disease,” he said.

“And if we do that, we will get on top of it.”