23.04.20. The number of newly diagnosed cases of coronavirus has plummeted nationwide, raising hopes that Australia stands a chance of eradicating the virus. A combined total of 12 new infections were reported by state health authorities on Wednesday, a 0.2 per cent increase from the previous day. The low number of diagnosed cases came despite testing being ramped up, particularly in NSW. More than 12,000 tests were conducted nationwide over the past 24 hours. Almost 500,000 COVID-19 tests have now been conducted by pathology laboratories around the country. NSW recorded an extra five COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday, while two new cases were recorded in Victoria.
Source: Natasha Robinson, News Corp
Coronavirus Australia: Eradication possible as new cases plummet
Tasmania recorded four new cases out of a cluster of infections in the northwest of the state. Two of the new Tasmanian cases were healthcare workers. South Australia recorded one case, while Queensland, Western Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory all recorded no new cases.
“The whole thing about the epidemic curve initially was that we wanted to flatten it,” said Australian National University Medical School infectious diseases physician and microbiologist Peter Collignon. “We’ve done better than that. We’ve actually managed to turn it around and head it south.”
The positive numbers came as a live tracking tool was launched in hospitals around the country. Hospitals will now have access to a live database tracking the intensive care capacity of every public and private hospital in the country as the federal government is buoyed by the extraordinarily low numbers of new COVID-19 cases.
The extra intensive care capacity that many hospitals have arranged sits idle as the expected number of COVID-19 patients fails to materialise, but health administrators are nevertheless putting contingency plans in place for an upswing. As hospitals increase their intensive care unit beds and upskill nursing staff to cope with potential extra demand, a new database, dubbed the Critical Health Resource Information System, will give health authorities a bird’s-eye view into every ICU, allowing a rapid response even if some hospitals’ ICUs were overwhelmed. Co-ordinators in hospital ICUs will update the database twice daily, reporting intensive care bed capacity in their hospitals, the number of available ventilators, and information about staffing and personal protective equipment supplies. The data will then be available in real time to health authorities and staff at other hospitals. “This national system will make sure we know where available ICU beds are and that the equipment, including ventilators, the patient needs are in place and ready for a rapid response in the event of future COVID-19 outbreaks,” said federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
The system was designed to allow health administrators to make decisions about where critically ill COVID-19 patients could be cared for in scenario planning that indicated Australia’s ICUs would be pushed to capacity. Now that a large influx of patients has not eventuated, the database will be a critical tool in gauging the impact on hospitals’ ICU capacity of resuming elective surgery, said commonwealth Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth.
“When this was in inception, of course, it was all about what is our COVID burden on ICU, expecting that curve to go up,’’ he said. “It is still obviously going to be useful for that, being in the unlikely event that if COVID did go up again, then we would have this as a very close indicator of how many COVID patients were in an ICU.’’