International Travel

“Did not come early enough”: Swiss doctor scolds Aussie coronavirus response

“Did not come early enough”: Swiss doctor scolds Aussie coronavirus response

A Swiss doctor looked at his Italian neighbours and prepared for the likely spread of coronavirus through his region of Ticino, Switzerland.

Paolo Ferrari also monitored the situation of his wife’s country, Australia, and his final verdict is stern.

He believes measures to stop spreading the virus are too late and that Australian hospitals must hurry to increase capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.

"The containment measures did not come in early enough, you heard new measures every day, but you still had cruise ships coming in with people that are positive and disembarked," Paolo Ferrari told AAP.

"One person can infect 3500 people within five days and each one of those 3500 can infect as many other people. So, what you see now is just a tip of the iceberg of how far in the community the virus has spread."

Under the advice of Professor Ferrari, Ticino grew its intensive care capacity ten days before it even had a positive case. The region now has about 300 cases and is expected to peak in two weeks time.

"You will have way more patients requiring hospital admission that you would have had if the measures had been introduced early enough," he said.

"So the only way now to be able to care for those patients is to create those beds that are not there."

He argues that early intervention was key in countries that have managed the pandemic so far, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Professor Ferrari says that Singapore learnt from the SARS virus outbreak 17 years ago, which is an idea that’s supported by Flingers University Professor Michael D Barr.

"In 2003, I watched the epidemic unfold day by day and felt the initial response was hopeless, until at least halfway through the crisis," Prof Barr said to news.com.au.

"Ad hoc, inconsistent responses at that time now remind me of how Australia's political leaders are behaving during the current COVID-19 crisis."