Australian testing rates world-leading, says PM… blog 2 April

4 minute read

Australia's COVID-19 testing rate reaches 1%, says PM, describing it as an "extraordinary, mammoth testing effort"

Good afternoon, and welcome to The Medical Republic‘s live COVID-19 blog.

It’s eerily quiet. If this was a horror movie, something really awful would be about to drop. Good thing it’s not a horror movie.

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The latest

  • One percent of Australians have been tested for COVID-19, says PM.
  • Free childcare for working parents, as government throws funding lifeline to COVID-19 hit childcare sector.
  • Black Dog Institute reports massive increase in visitors looking for COVID-19 mental health resources.

3.45pm, 2 April

  • The psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on Australians, with the Black Dog Institute reporting more than double the usual number of visitors to its website last week.
    Around 40% of these visitors were to a section of the site relating specifically to COVID-19, the organisation said.
    In response to the pandemic, the institute is looking for 2000 people to participate in a research study that will track their anxiety about the virus over four weeks.
    Clinical psychologist Associate Professor Jill Newby said in a statement that this is a heightened time of anxiety, uncertainty and stress, and there was a need to study how people were feeling. “This study will look at how the COVID-19 has impacted on people’s emotions, mood and anxiety rather than making assumptions about it,” she said.

3.20pm, 2 April

  • Free childcare will be available for those who still need to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the federal government throws a lifeline both to working parents and the hard-hit childcare sector.
    Prime Minister Scott Morrison and education minister Dan Tehan announced this afternoon that the federal government will pay half of what a service should have been earning before COVID-19 hit, as long as they stay open and provide free childcare to families.
    The move is intended to support families who still need to work during the pandemic, “while also ensuring as many of the sector’s 13,000 child care and early learning services as possible could keep their doors open for workers and vulnerable families who need those services.”

2.43pm, 2 April

  • Australia has done 1000 tests for COVID-19 per 100,000 population, says Prime Minister Scott Morrison, describing it as an “extraordinary, mammoth testing effort”.
    The PM said that to his knowledge, Australia was the first country to exceed 1000 tests per 100,000 population, and that these testing resources have been fundamental to tracing infections, and to measures being undertaken at the state level to contain the growth and spread of the virus.
    (* We initially posted this story quoting the PM as saying that 1% of the population had been tested, but the 1000/100,000 testing rate doesn’t necessarily include repeat tests that are performed on the one patient – as our eagle-eyed reporter Penny Durham pointed out – so it may not be exactly 1%.)

10.30am, 2 April

  • Here are the latest COVID-19 infection stats, to 3pm yesterday:
    National – 4,860 (up 303 since 31 March) and 20 deaths
    ACT – 84
    NSW – 2182
    NT – 18
    QLD – 781
    SA – 367
    TAS – 68
    VIC – 968
    WA – 392

9.20am, 2 April

  • Starting today with a wee glimmer of hope; Australian researchers say that if our infection rate continues to slow – as it appears to have been doing over the past few days – there’s a chance our hospital system will be able to cope with the pandemic.
    Writing in The Conversation, three researchers from the Grattan Institute – a public policy think-tank – point out that not only have the numbers of cases coming to Australia from overseas slowed, but the number of new local infections is also slowing. Our total number of cases is now doubling every six to seven days, instead of every three to four days.
    This could mean we won’t hit the wall in mid-April, which is when earlier modelling suggested we would run out of intensive care beds.
    With all the caveats about the uncertainties and vagaries of modelling studies, we at TMR are still very happy to clutch at this particular straw.
  • (sing along with me):
    “Soooooooocial dis-tan-cing!
    Staying home to help the world.
    Soooooooocial dis-tan-cing!
    Keeping safe all the boys and girls”
    Thank you to the Wiggles for this ray of sunshine of a video, explaining to young (and also old folk) all about social distancing.
    Like SARS-CoV-2, this catchy tune is difficult to shake once you’ve got it.

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