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Grim Covid prediction for January in NSW: ‘LUNACY’

Summary:
That’s the headline for a story based on an email interview I did with Yahoo News. Over the fold, the full Q and A. What are your predictions for NSW given the current numbers?Assuming that Hazzard’s 25 000 cases a day estimate is correct, that 2 per cent  are hospitalised and and average stay of 10 days, that’s 5000 people in hospital on any given day. NSW has 20700 hospital beds, so almost 25 per cent taken up with Covid What will this mean for hospitals?This will clearly be too much for hospitals if close contacts are required to isolate. That would entail losing a substantial proportion of capacity, maybe as much as 25 per cent.  Government has foreshadowed dropping isolation requirements, which would increase capacity, but also ensure lots more infection of

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That’s the headline for a story based on an email interview I did with Yahoo News. Over the fold, the full Q and A.

  • What are your predictions for NSW given the current numbers?

Assuming that Hazzard’s 25 000 cases a day estimate is correct, that 2 per cent  are hospitalised and and average stay of 10 days, that’s 5000 people in hospital on any given day. NSW has 20700 hospital beds, so almost 25 per cent taken up with Covid

  • What will this mean for hospitals?

This will clearly be too much for hospitals if close contacts are required to isolate. That would entail losing a substantial proportion of capacity, maybe as much as 25 per cent.  Government has foreshadowed dropping isolation requirements, which would increase capacity, but also ensure lots more infection of vulnerable patients.

What is the risk of continuing to ‘let it rip’? 

Every country that has tried “let er rip” has had disastrous outcomes, and all (except some Republican controlled states in US) have reversed course. Advocates here focused on Denmark’s decision to drop all restrictions in September. They are now back in nearly full lockdown

  • Why do you think borders will close/ when would this happen?

If Perrottet continues to resist vax passports, encourage socialising etc, it will be impossible for other states to bring case numbers down. Pressure to reimpose border controls (or not lift them in case of WA) will increase

  • If there was another lockdown when should NSW re-open?

Ideally, after a rapid rollout of boosters, return to effective contact tracing, reinstatement of vax passports. In practice, lockdown won’t happen until outcome is catastrophic, and end will be unpredictable.

  • Why do you think ‘living with Covid’ is not a viable option?

Advocates of “living with Covid” imagine a steady and manageable number of cases. They don’t understand exponential growth. If cases rise 20 % per day (rate has been much higher recently), they will increase 100-fold in a few weeks. 

  • Do you think other states will follow NSW’s increase in cases?

Hard to say. Depends on avoiding superspreader events like New Years Eve celebrations, and rapid rollout of boosters

John Quiggin
He is an Australian economist, a Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a former member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government.

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