‘Dead­line of just 10 days’ be­fore ICU beds run out

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - NATASHA ROBIN­SON

Aus­tralia could run out of ICU beds to treat coro­n­avirus pa­tients in as few as 10 days if in­fec­tions con­tinue to rise at the cur­rent rate of ex­po­nen­tial growth.

A study in the Med­i­cal Jour­nal of Aus­tralia says Aus­tralia’s COVID-19 mor­tal­ity rate could be as high as Italy’s un­less mea­sures are taken to slow the spread.

Epi­demi­ol­o­gists say it is still too early to as­sess whether so­cialdis­tanc­ing mea­sures have had any im­pact on Aus­tralia’s curve of in­fec­tions, but if the mea­sures do not slow the rate of growth in cases, mor­tal­ity rates here could climb to in ex­cess of 5 per cent.

In the MJA study, anaes­thetist Hamish Meares and Mac­quarie Univer­sity bio­statis­ti­cian Michael Jones cal­cu­late that, based on Aus­tralia’s cur­rent in­ten­sive care unit bed ca­pac­ity of about 2200, hos­pi­tals would be over­whelmed once in­fec­tions hit 22,000, although hos­pi­tals are pre­par­ing to double their ICU bed ca­pac­ity. “The model’s pre­dic­tions are broadly sup­ported by data from Italy and sug­gest Aus­tralian hos­pi­tals do not have ca­pac­ity to ac­com­mo­date pos­si­ble demand.”

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