RE­GION AT HIGH RISK

New re­port re­veals Balonne Shire towns are in the ‘red zone’ for COVID-19 in­fec­tions

Balonne Beacon - - FRONT PAGE - LUCY RUTHER­FORD STORY: PAGE 3

SOME towns in the Balonne shire have a high po­ten­tial for se­vere ill­ness of there was a COVID-19 out­break, a new study has re­vealed.

A NEW study has re­vealed a Balonne Shire town has a high po­ten­tial for se­vere ill­ness if there is a COVID-19 out­break.

UNSW Busi­ness School has part­nered with Aus­tralian ac­tu­ar­ial and strate­gic an­a­lyt­ics con­sult­ing firm Fin­ity to map vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions in Aus­tralia at se­vere risk if they con­tract coro­n­avirus.

The COVID-19 Sus­cep­ti­bil­ity Index ranks ev­ery post­code to iden­tify where peo­ple are at risk of suf­fer­ing se­vere symp­toms if they be­come in­fected.

With a score of 100 rep­re­sent­ing the post­codes at high­est risk of sus­cep­ti­bil­ity, St Ge­orge re­ceived a score of 76 and is in the yel­low zone, which means the town has mod­er­ate po­ten­tial for se­vere ill­ness in case of an out­break.

Bol­lon re­ceived a score of 88, which is con­sid­ered to be in the red zone, mean­ing it has clus­ters of co-mor­bid­ity risk fac­tors that may have greater po­ten­tial for se­vere ill­ness in the case of an out­break.

Mungindi re­ceived a risk score per­centile of 79 (yel­low), Thal­lon 75 (yel­low) and Dir­ran­bandi 51 (green).

The COVID-19 Sus­cep­ti­bil­ity Index maps co-mor­bidi­ties fac­tors such as age, can­cer, di­a­betes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, obe­sity and lung dis­ease, as well as known mul­ti­di­men­sional char­ac­ter­is­tics of in­di­vid­u­als in house­holds.

Re­searchers said the re­sults would help make de­ci­sions about se­lec­tively lift­ing lock­down or so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures, which would en­able a bal­anced ap­proach to rein­vig­o­rat­ing the econ­omy while keep­ing the pop­u­la­tion safe.

Fin­ity prin­ci­pal Aaron Cut­ter said ini­tial re­sults in­di­cated re­gional ar­eas were more sus­cep­ti­ble to se­vere symp­toms if COVID-19 was con­tracted.

“The re­sults are pre­lim­i­nary, but show that while the ini­tial wave of COVID-19 cases was con­cen­trated around cap­i­tal cities due to pop­u­la­tion den­sity plus prox­im­ity to cruise ships and in­ter­na­tional air­ports, these ar­eas have lower pro­por­tions of highly sus­cep­ti­ble in­di­vid­u­als com­pared to the rest of Aus­tralia,” he said.

“The index re­veals that re­gional ar­eas ac­tu­ally have greater sus­cep­ti­bil­ity — not only be­cause of age but due to a num­ber of other key char­ac­ter­is­tics.”

While no cases have yet been con­firmed in the south­west, the South West Hospi­tal and Health Ser­vice has re­vealed its com­pre­hen­sive plans to man­age a po­ten­tial coro­n­avirus out­break, in­clud­ing en­sur­ing each fa­cil­ity has ad­e­quate sup­plies, equip­ment and other con­tin­gen­cies.

They en­cour­age south­west res­i­dents to not be alarmed about novel coro­n­avirus, but re­main aware and in­formed.

A per­son is el­i­gi­ble for test­ing if they have a fever, res­pi­ra­tory symp­toms or have been in close con­tact with a con­firmed case or trav­elled over­seas in the past 14 days.

These symp­toms in­clude fever, a cough, sore throat, fa­tigue and short­ness of breath.

Find out more about the COVID-19 Sus­cep­ti­bil­ity Index at www.fin­ity.com.au.

Pic­ture: Con­tributed

RED ZONE: The COVID-19 Sus­cep­ti­bil­ity Index ranks ev­ery post­code po­ten­tial of suf­fer­ing se­vere symp­toms.

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