How state has slashed COVID-19 projections by 80 per cent
TOUGH social-distancing measures have helped significantly slash the number of people expected to catch COVID-19 between now and the peak in Queensland by up to 80 per cent.
The Courier-Mail can reveal that while Queensland was previously bracing for one in four to be infected, this has now reduced to around one in 20.
This means predictions have dropped from about 1.25 million people potentially becoming infected to about 250,000 between now and the peak, which could occur in the next six months or even later.
But whether this downward trend continues will depend greatly on how Queenslanders adhere to restrictions over the Easter long weekend, with authorities pleading with people to stay in their areas.
Health Minister Steven Miles said what Queensland looked like in six months depended a lot on what Queenslanders did now.
"If we all have a quiet Easter and keep social distancing it should be quite calm," he said.
"There might be a peak in six months, it could even be later.
"The longer it takes, the more successful we will have been and the more lives we will have saved."
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD
Current predictions reveal up to 1000 intensive care beds could be needed in hospitals during the peak.
Queensland has the capacity for that to reach 1200 beds if necessary.
Mr Miles said that meant every person who could be saved with the use of ventilators would not miss out on it.
"There could be three to four times that many people in hospital, needing hospital care but not so critical they need ICU," he said.
"Again, well within existing built hospital capacity."
But Mr Miles said people would still die and most Queenslanders would know someone who had been infected with COVID-19.
"We desperately hope we will have kept it out of our most remote communities," he said. "But if not, we have plans in place to ensure they don't miss out on care.
"If we do everything right, the rest of the world will marvel at how Queenslanders stuck together and saved lives."
Mr Miles said several candidate vaccines could have completed animal trials six months from now.
"We will start to know if any are likely to succeed and how long (sic) away they might be," he said.
"Then we will know how much longer we will have to wait for some kind of normality.
"Until then though, we will have adjusted to our new normal, a normal where we spend more time at home with our families, we exercise more and our communities are stronger.
"We will be making more locally and making sure we are less reliant on other countries.
"The economy will be forever reshaped.
"Some jobs that have gone will be replaced with others."
Professor John Fraser, the director of ICU at Brisbane's St Andrew's Hospital, said Queensland could been similar to New York if it hadn't adopted such strict measures.
"We seem to have isolated well, so congrats to the people of Australia here for being the heroes and doing the right thing for their mates by staying at home," he said.
Dr Fraser said lockdown measures could be relaxed and tightened again several times before the crisis was over.
"It's like a bottle of Coca-Cola that's all shaken up," he said.
"Our society doesn't like being locked up but if we release all the restrictions at the same time, the virus hasn't gone away and large numbers of people could get sick and some die.
"I think what modelling suggests is gently releasing the pressure a bit, then tightening back up.
"I think what will happen in the next 12 to 18 months or so, there will be periods where the lockdown will be reduced a bit and then put back on."
Dr Fraser said the creation of a vaccine or cure would dramatically change the restrictions.
Griffith University's Professor Nigel McMillan said not acting quickly on lockdown measures would have resulted in the situation unfolding in the UK, Italy and Spain.
"If we did nothing, we would be in a situation where once your hospital situation is overwhelmed, there are many people that die because they can't get help," he said.
Originally published as How Qld has slashed COVID-19 projections by 80 per cent