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Australia Long lonely winter: Australians could be in cooped up in isolation until long after CHRISTMAS - with strict social distancing measures for up to two years

08:26  05 april  2020
08:26  05 april  2020 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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up in isolation until long after CHRISTMAS - with strict social distancing measures to last two years . Australians have been warned they could be bunkered down until well after Christmas this social distancing for another 18 months to two years ,' Professor Collignon, from the Australian

Thousands of Australians are being holed up in isolation in 'corona hotels'. It comes after Prime Holding up a pleading sign which read 'we need fresh air', the couple revealed the prison-like It forced the couple into isolation before they can go home to Adelaide - where they will need to isolate

Australians have been warned they could be cooped up in their homes until well after Christmas, while social distancing measures could last as long as two years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned on Friday Australians could expect six months of stringent social distancing measures as the national infection rate dropped to under 10 per cent. 

But infectious disease expert Professor Peter Collignon said COVID-19's seasonal nature meant the number of cases may not reduce significantly until the spring.

a person standing in a parking lot: Two women walk in front of a 'beach closed' sign at Bondi Beach on Saturday. Australians have been warned coronavirus social distancing measures may last until after Christmas © Provided by Daily Mail Two women walk in front of a 'beach closed' sign at Bondi Beach on Saturday. Australians have been warned coronavirus social distancing measures may last until after Christmas

Melbourne beaches closed to gatherings

  Melbourne beaches closed to gatherings Melburnians will no longer be able to go to the beach in a group as restrictions are put in place to ensure social distancing rules are followed.Port Phillip City Council has clamped down on large groups accessing all of its beaches including the popular St Kilda Beach effective from Friday.

Strict rules have been introduced to combat the spread of the deadly illness and thousands of Australians have been forced to work from home as a result. The rules have also seen most social activities shelved, with authorities encouraging people to remain home as much as possible.

The Morrison government needs eight in 10 Australians to follow social distancing guidelines in order to Strict new 'stage two ' guidelines kicked in at midnight restricting gatherings. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled the current package of measures will be in force across Australia for at

'You know what the bad news is? We're going to have to do a lot of this social distancing for another 18 months to two years,' Professor Collignon, from the Australian National University, told news.com.au.

'This virus is not going to go anywhere soon. We'll have a reprieve next spring because there's less transmission of viruses in summer.' 

He added the virus would continue to have an effect in Australia until a cure is found.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world

About 35 companies and institutions worldwide are racing to develop a vaccine for the virus but it is still unclear when it will be ready for use.

'Until we get a vaccine that is safe and works or until we find the evidence is wrong or unless something radical changes with the data there's no way in my view we're going to get rid of all the virus from Australia,' Professor Collignon said.

He added the initial positive impact of the government's social distancing measures - including closing pubs, cafes and restaurants - meant they would need to stay in place for as long as two years. 

Authorities in some states have put a more conservative date for the end of their lockdowns.

Doctor Brett Sutton, Victoria's chief health officer, said the strict restrictions in his state will last until May or June, or possibly longer. 

'It keeps changing. In a sense, how well we do with that physical distancing, how well we comply with stay-at-home directions will change that time,' he said. 

New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has said the level three restrictions in NSW will last at least 90 days. 

University of NSW associate professor James Wood told Daily Mail Australia meanwhile the reduced growth rate could lead to the federal government easing restrictions in weeks. 

Dr Wood said on Wednesday the next two weeks were critical in determining whether Australia was really flattening the curve and if and when life might get easier.  

Denmark is already planning to roll back its own restrictions this month as its infection rates and hospital admissions fall faster than expected. 

Professor Raina Macintyre from the Kirby Institute at the UNSW - a global body dedicated to preventing infectious diseases - suggested it would still be many months before life is returned to normal.

'It's going to get worse before it gets better,' she said in a video for the Australian Academy of Science on Tuesday.

'Get into a mental space where you can actually accept that you have to change the way that you live because this epidemic will be taking off in the next few weeks.

'There's going to be more transmissions around in a very short time period and everything that you can do to reduce your contact with other people [will help].'

Professor Macintyre also warned a potential 'second wave' could bring a swarm of new infections. 

Modelling has also emerged indicating the peak in infection rates may come in October - with Australians fighting the virus for a long period of time despite the measures.

a person standing in front of a window: Experts like Professor Raina Macintyre (pictured) from the Kirby Institute at the UNSW suggested it would still be many months before life is returned to normal © Provided by Daily Mail Experts like Professor Raina Macintyre (pictured) from the Kirby Institute at the UNSW suggested it would still be many months before life is returned to normal

Hospital admissions by that point in spring though will be at a much reduced level because of social distancing, the data suggests.

The number of hospitalised cases will reach 180 hospitalised cases in every 100,000 people, less than half the 450 cases which would occur with no social distancing.

The data seen by intensive care consultants also proposes the virus will have reduced in community spread rate by a third - from 2.4 to 1.6.

Denmark plans to begin lifting lockdown restrictions in April

By Ryan Fahey for MailOnline

Denmark could begin lifting lockdown restrictions in April after declaring the contact limits it implemented on March 11 have 'succeeded'.

The Nordic country, which has reported 77 coronavirus-related deaths, last week extended until after Easter a two-week lockdown to limit physical contact between its citizens that began on March 11.

'We do see signs that we have succeeded in delaying the transmission of corona in Denmark. The transmission is spreading slower than feared,' Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. 

'Over the past week the number of hospital admissions has risen slightly slower than the week before and without the explosion in the numbers that we have seen in other countries.' 

Mette Frederiksen wearing a suit and tie: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 coronavirus disease at her office in Copenhagen, Denmark yesterday © Provided by Daily Mail Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 coronavirus disease at her office in Copenhagen, Denmark yesterday

The Social Democrat leader, whose response to the crisis has been praised by the public, offered a glimmer of hope for Danes cooped up under lockdown.  

'If we over the next two weeks across Easter keep standing together by staying apart, and if the numbers remain stable for the next two weeks, then the government will begin a gradual, quiet and controlled opening of our society again, at the other side of Easter,' she said.

However, Frederiksen warned that if numbers began to rise once lockdown is over 'perhaps we would have to tighten up even more instead'.       

Denmark has imposed less strict limits on daily life than in Italy or France where people are only free to leave their homes to buy groceries, go to work if essential or seek medical care.

Danish authorities have restricted public assembly to 10 or fewer people, ordered the closure of schools, universities, day cares, restaurants, cafes, libraries, gyms and hair salons, and shut all borders to most foreigners.

A reopening would probably include people attending schools and work in shifts to avoid rush-hour traffic and too many people gathering in public at the same time, Frederiksen said.

It comes as Australia's coronavirus toll rises to 34 after four men - three who were on the Ruby Princess cruise - died in NSW on Saturday. 

Police have been out in full force issuing warnings and on the spot fines of $1,000 for anybody who is outside for non-essential reasons.

People are only allowed to leave their homes for food, essential work, exercise and medical appointments.

WILL WINTER MAKE IT HARDER TO BATTLE COVID-19? 

While not yet upon us, the Australian winter might make fighting COVID-19 harder again, says one of country's leading infectious disease experts.

Although flu's peak time is June to August, it's potentially worrying that we've already seen widespread coronavirus infection while it's still warm, according to Adelaide University professor Michael Beard.

'So what's going to happen in winter? It could be worse,' he told AAP.

'We just don't know, but there are some concerns.'

One is that the saliva and mucus droplets we cough up and sneeze out are smaller in winter, which means they more deeply penetrate the lungs of anyone who breath them in. It's not good news if they're infected.

a woman walking down a sidewalk: Face masks have become a regular sight in Australia, with people wearing them to protect from the virus (pictured, a woman in Sydney on March 17) © Provided by Daily Mail Face masks have become a regular sight in Australia, with people wearing them to protect from the virus (pictured, a woman in Sydney on March 17)

Mucus is 98 per cent water so if it's instead allowed to dry out, it can produce that crusty kind of nasal obstruction we're all occasionally familiar with, which also allows pathogens to get trapped in our airways.

One place that's most likely to happen is inside during a winter's day with heaters blasting or fires roaring.

Outdoors in the cold, however, the nose and lungs can also have a decreased response to virus infection. So that could be another potential problem.

Prof Beard says perhaps his main concern moving into the Australian winter is 'how this coronavirus is going to interface with influenza virus infection.

'I would urge people to get their flu vaccinations.'

a person sitting on a bench: The coronavirus could become harder to battle as winter sets in (pictured, a woman wearing a mask in front of Sydney Opera House on March 13) © Provided by Daily Mail The coronavirus could become harder to battle as winter sets in (pictured, a woman wearing a mask in front of Sydney Opera House on March 13)

Complicating matters, pandemics often don't follow normal seasonal outbreak patterns. The Spanish flu (1918-1920), for example, peaked during summer.

However, researchers at the University of Maryland have found the worst COVID-19 eruptions so far have been clustered in a narrow band across the Northern Hemisphere that has consistently similar weather and takes in China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, France and the US Pacific Northwest.

'It couldn't have been bad luck that these particular places were hit,' project spokesman Mohammad Sajadi told the Wall Street Journal last week.

'This virus is acting like a seasonal respiratory virus. We could be wrong but with the data we have, we think that is the most likely scenario.'

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More info: Read the latest advice on COVID-19 from the Australian Government

Social distancing measures to remain for up to six months .
Despite Australia's dropping infection rates, authorities have said social distancing and isolation measures could still remain in place for the next six months.  Deputy Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly says the country is on the cusp of the disease dying out but social distancing is essential."It's not time to become complacent, not the time to change things. Those same messages we have put in place and recognising how disruptive that is for so many people's lives, it's very, very important to stay the course at the moment," he said.

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