Nine News Political Editor Chris Uhlmann says the signs for Australia are positive, but we have a long journey ahead of us.
“The path out is covered in landmines, it lies in a journey through winter which brings more complications,” he said.
“But we are doing well by international standards.
“In the words of a wartime leader, this isn’t the beginning of the end but hopefully it is the end of the beginning.”
Meanwhile, fresh virus modelling has shown that 93 per cent of all symptomatic cases of coronavirus in Australia are probably identified.
It also predicts that every 10 cases of coronavirus in Australia will produce just five more fresh infections.
“Our best estimate at the moment in Australia is for every 10 infectious cases, they’re only reproducing another five and this shows our epidemic at the moment is in decline,” the Doherty Institute’s epidemiology director Professor Jodie McVernon said on Thursday.
“That’s great because it shows the public health measures that have been in place have been very effective in limiting the spread of this disease. But it doesn’t let us be complacent.”
Prof McVernon warned that if the current measures were relaxed too early, every 10 cases would create another 25 over the course of the infection.
The reproductive number gives the average number of secondary infections each positive case is likely to produce and reproduce.
Prof McVernon was referring to the COVID-19 modelling data released on Thursday, after work by her and colleagues at the Doherty Institute.
The infection and immunity institute is one of the key Australian bodies in the battle against the virus.
University of Melbourne Professor James McCaw said the modelling does not run so far as to show when elimination is possible.
“We have to be very cautious about extrapolating too far into the future,” he said, adding elimination would take at least months not weeks.
“If there were changes in our mixing behaviour or our intervention methods over that month and beyond, these numbers will change,” he said.
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said restrictions could be rolled back in a month, depending on improvements in combatting the virus.
The latest modelling does not rule out small localised outbreaks, which cannot be reliably predicted, or changes to human behaviour.
“If we are all still susceptible to this virus, if we don’t have immunity, life as normal is not a real option because the virus will come back from somewhere,” Prof McVernon said.
“We can’t isolate ourselves from the world forever.”
While international estimates show undetected cases could be as high as 40 to 60 per cent, Australian experts say it’s still uncertain.
Quarantine and physical distancing are pivotal to reduce asymptomatic transmission, they added.
As for going back to “normal life”, Australians need to rethink that.
“The real danger is back to life as normal discussion because that cannot happen for a very long time,” Prof McVernon said.
“We just need to get that in our consciousness as a society.”
Australia’s death toll has reached 63 and there are 6468 current cases nationally.
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