US COVID-19-linked Kawasaki disease sparks calls for urgent research, Victoria eases social distancing, Australia death toll at 98
Allowing gatherings to a maximum of ten people under the first stage of easing restrictions would allow teams of contact tracers to get on top of outbreaks, he said.
“We test every single contact, we repeatedly test contacts, we quarantine,” Professor Murphy said, responding to questions from Greens Senator Richard di Natale about the risk of a second wave of infections.
“Absolutely, there is a risk, but we are so much better prepared now than we were when we first introduced physical distancing measures.”
Asked which restrictions had been the most effective in flattening the curve of the epidemic, Professor Murphy said it was difficult to say when measures had been announced around the same time, but that evidence from overseas suggested that countries which closed their borders had limited the spread.
Australian health authorities’ own modelling and data showed that physical distancing measures were effective in limiting community transmission, he said.
A rapid expansion of testing – with about 750,000 COVID-19 tests having been performed to date – should also be credited, Professor Murphy told the hearing.
With two-thirds of COVID-19 cases in Australia acquired overseas, he said, international borders would have to remain closed.
“I cannot see border measures materially changing for some time – and that presents a huge problem for the nation,” he said.
Professor Murphy said he remained convinced that the number of reported COVID-19 cases remained drastically under-reported, saying a lack of testing in many countries meant the true figure must be about five times higher than the official tally of 4.2 million. The chief medical officer told the Senate hearing he would be “very surprised” if the total global COVID-19 case numbers were not around the 20 million mark.
He said internal border closures were a matter for the states and territories.