Poll: is a second wave on the way?


As restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 loosen, are you worried about a second wave of the disease?

There’s no doubt that Australia has weathered the COVID-19 crisis far better than many other countries – at least in terms of the spread of the novel coronavirus itself.

As at Wednesday June 3, there had been 7,229 cases of COVID-19 in Australia to date, with 102 deaths.

Also on that date, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg admitted that the country is now in recession, for the first time since 1990-91.

In an update on the economic and fiscal outlook with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the Treasurer said that “Australia’s continued success in flattening the curve means we have been able to begin reopening our economy more quickly than initially expected”.

However stakeholders including the Health Minister have continued to warn of the ongoing need for protective measures such as social distancing in order to prevent a “second wave” of community transmission.

“We must maintain our physical distancing,” Greg Hunt told reporters on Tuesday.

“Workplaces… public transport, all of these systems, have developed ways of people keeping their distance. And in particular, respect our seniors. Our seniors are our most vulnerable.

“Around the world, they are those that are most vulnerable, and giving them the space and the distance, continuing to respect the hand hygiene, the physical distance, downloading the COVIDSafe app, these are the three things that will help us emerge cautiously, but with confidence.”

Experts including Professor James McCaw from the Doherty Institute in Melbourne are also wary that the crisis is not a thing of the past; Prof McCaw told the Sydney Morning Herald this week that “we are still at the very start of this”.

We’d like to know what you, on the frontline, think about a potential second wave. Let us know in our poll below – check as many boxes as are relevant.

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2 Comments

  1. Michael Ortiz
    06/06/2020

    It is time for the epidemiologist to take a step back and listen to the economists. Their advice to Government has successfully traded off lives for jobs, however is the treatment worse than COVID-19 infections?

    New cases of COVID-19 in Australia are less than 20 per day and if the outbreaks at Newmarch and Ceddar meats are excluded, then the community acquired infection rate is very low with deaths less than one every two or three days. If we continue the social distancing restrictions at the current level, then will continue to spend at least $2 billion a week.

    We should not blindly continue to follow risk averse medical advice and focus solely on suppressing new Covid cases. It is time to relax social distancing restrictions in order to reduce the Government handouts. However, there will be a price to pay in terms of increased mortality and morbidity.

    The challenge is how to trade off the increased jobs from reductions caused by social distancing, while minimizing increases in new cases and deaths.We cost a death using what the ABS values for a statistical life year of $150,000 and most of the deaths were in patients over the age of 70 years (average of 10 life years lost per death).

    If we are able to reduce social distancing so that 100,000 workers can return to work one month earlier then this could save more than $200 million in welfare payments. The question then becomes how many more cases/deaths are acceptable to trade off in return for the 100,000 returning to work early? Cost benefit analysis (CBA) suggests that a $200 million saving is a better approach provided there is less than 100 more deaths or the loss of 000 more life years. That is, Economic analysis supports further relaxing social distancing requirements provided there are only small increases in new cases/deaths due to Covid-19.

    Those who are not prepared to trade off lives for jobs, need to look more closely at the last 20 years of PBAC decisions where new drugs are regularly rejected if the economic analysis shows a cost of more than $100,000 per life year.

    • JimT
      11/06/2020

      the ultimate test is in progress with the protest/marches last week-end. lets see what the consequences are over the next 2-4 weeks in respect of new cases and how they progress. This will give us a much clearer picture of how to move forward.

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