More than 3,500 doctors have signed an open letter pleading with the country’s leaders to immediately change course to tackle COVID-19. The letter’s author, intensive care specialist Greg Kelly, told ABC he consulted with intensive care colleagues at several major hospitals in Melbourne and Sydney before issuing the call for action. According to the letter, Australia’s health system and spread of age demographics share more similarities with Italy than China.
On current growth rates the 370 cases in Australia today will be 12,000 by April 4
Doctors’ open letter
It warns: “On current growth rates the 370 cases in Australia today will be 750 on Friday, 1,500 on Tuesday next week, 3,000 next Saturday, 6,000 on the April 1 and 12,000 by April 4.”
It says doctors fear Australia will be “in a worse position than Italy is currently in” unless urgent action is taken at government level.
Italian doctors have reported a catastrophic lack of ventilators and other vital resources needed to save critically ill patients and say they have been forced to choose between patients who can be helped and those who will be refused the treatment necessary to save their lives.
More than 27,000 people have caught the virus in Italy and medics are currently struggling to keep up with the amount of critically ill people, describing situations on the ground as similar to a war zone.
So far, 2,158 people have died from complications relating to COVID-19 in the country and that number is predicted to rise as doctors struggle with limited resources.
The Australian doctors’ letter points out that the death rate in Italy is “very high” — much higher than in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in late December.
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It calls on the Government to heed the lessons of China, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan, which have enforced widespread economic lockdown and social distancing measures greater than what have so far been adopted in Australia.
The letter calls for an immediate and mandatory national lockdown as well as further resources deployed to hospitals to help them fight the inevitable surge in cases in coming weeks.
Dr Kelly described the virus as “predictable” and said international evidence proves cases double every three to five days within a country until strict lockdown orders are imposed.
Canberra said it was taking medical advice on whether it needed to bring in a new wave of restrictions.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said: “We will continue to act as we are advised.
“As the Prime Minister indicated yesterday in relation to some of these things, it is important to time these decisions in the right way.”
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The Australian Medical Association distanced itself from the sentiments expressed in the letter.
A spokesman said: “The AMA does not believe that the actions proposed in the letter are necessary yet.
“There are many messages out in the community — from official and unofficial sources, from individuals and groups.
“Chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy will provide advice on these matters at the appropriate time, based on the best available medical evidence.”
Globally, there are more than 182,000 cases of COVID-19 throughout 162 nations, including 452 in Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has introduced further policies to help slow the spread of coronavirus on home soil but admitted there was no way to stop it entirely.
The measures include mandatory self isolation for anybody arriving in the country from an international destination for 14 days and prohibiting all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people for the foreseeable future.
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