Is Covid 19 just something we live with now?
Is it just me or does everyone think we have to keep a clear head?
As expected, we have Covid 19 cases in Queensland again.
Not just the Logan liars who flew in from Melbourne and refused to isolate but a couple that dined in a fancy Sydney restaurant and unknowingly brought the disease home.
The outbreak has renewed the conversation about containment. Apparently we have three choices.
Australia can maintain its current ‘suppression’ strategy or try for a New Zealand style Covid 19 ‘elimination.’
More radically, we could even try for disease ‘eradication’ but from what I have read, that just isn’t practical, mainly because the disease host is a bat.
Disease eradication means it has been globally eliminated, like Smallpox. That isn’t going to happen. Even with a vaccine and radical prevention strategy, we can’t wipe out all the bats and that means we can’t wipe out Covid.
Disease elimination is what New Zealand appears to have achieved and I think it is fair to say Queensland had a pretty good crack at elimination too.
Under an elimination strategy, once travel resumes small outbreaks will still occur, but they won’t result in rampant, Victorian style, community transmission.
Disease suppression is when government accepts that some community transmission might happen but contact tracing and aggressive testing will keep the number of cases at what is deemed to be an acceptable level.
Elimination, if we were to go for it, would require the whole country to go into stage four lockdown for six weeks or more.
That means staying home, visiting no one, not even leaving the house to exercise.
It means nothing open but supermarkets, pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries. Stage four means redefining what an essential worker is. No tradies, no shops, no coffee, no takeaway. Just courts, customs, police, health and people involved in essential consumer goods like primary producers, transport chains and supermarket retailers.
We have seen nothing like it in Australia.
They took their medicine in New Zealand and it worked. They took the same medicine in Italy to get things under control, but they are still dealing with cases. Which might happen here too. A hell of a lot of pain for a result not much better than we already have.
Given what has happened in Victoria in the past 24 hours they might need stage four restrictions just to get the situation under control.
I am obviously not a doctor but from what I have read, asymptomatic sufferers make Covid 19 very tricky. Full elimination strategy, keeping everyone in lockdown until there is no detectable community transmission just doesn’t seem practical.
The best we can hope for is low incidence, high quality surveillance, eventually a vaccine and herd immunity.
Even then we will have imported cases from returning travellers. Transport of food and consumer goods, people traveling for work and the right of Australian citizens to return to Australia means we can never truly shut the borders.
Covid 19 is just something we live with now.