In Australia's Coronavirus Infection Rate Showing Signs of Slowing Down

AFP

Melbourne: Australia's health minister on Tuesday said the coronavirus growth rate has shown some signs of slowing down after the government enforced the enhanced social distancing norms in the country which has more than 4,450 confirmed cases and 19 deaths.

Australia has introduced a host of stricter rules on social distancing, including on-spot fines for individuals and businesses and gathering restrictions to only two people outdoor or indoor, in a bid to flatten the curve of infection growth rate.

"This progress is early, it's significant, but now, with these additional rules around gatherings and movement, we are going to take the next step to help reduce the level of infection, and to support our containment," Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Tuesday.

Hunt said over 230,000 tests have been carried out across the country and the growth rate (spread) was now about nine per cent on average "down from 25-30 per cent growth just over a week ago.''

Till date, more than 4,450 recorded cases have been confirmed positive with highest number in New South Wales at over 2,000 patients.The number of deaths as on Tuesday was 19.

Queensland has recorded 55 new cases since Monday, taking the state's total to 743 while Victoria has 917 confirmed cases, with 96 new cases.

Western Australia has 355 cases, South Australia has 305, the Australian Capital Territory has 78 and the Northern Territory, 15.

In Victoria, where residents would face fines from Tuesday midnight if they leave home for any reason that was not essential, four preschool-aged children reported to have acquired the coronavirus and investigations were ongoing into the cases.

Meanwhile, according to deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatworth, health authorities were working round the clock to expand its intensive care capacity and procure ventilators.

"We are working around the clock to procure ventilators," Coatworth said adding "Locally, we will have 500 intensive care ventilators fabricated by ResMed, backed up by 5000 non-invasive ventilators."

Chief Health officer Brett Sutton stressed that the curve to flatten would happen if 90 per cent of the population adhered to the social distancing guidelines.

He said other measures, including early testing and quarantining of close contacts, were also critically important but a rate of 70 per cent would cause an epidemic curve that continues to increase.

He said with some modelling suggesting 90 per cent compliance was the minimum rate needed to be effective.

The health minister also announced striking a new deal by the federal government with the country's 657 private hospitals, giving the government access to another 34,000 hospital beds to tackle the health crisis.

"It will bring over 105,000 full and part-time hospital staff, including 57,000 of our amazing nurses and midwives," Hunt said.

"It guarantees them their future... but most importantly it brings their resources to the fight against coronavirus, COVID-19, in Australia," the minister added.