News Coronavirus Coronavirus can be curbed in 13 weeks – just stay home, data says
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Coronavirus can be curbed in 13 weeks – just stay home, data says

social distancing
How many more signs do you need? Be selfless, stay home. Photo: Getty
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Data out this week from the University of Sydney reinforces what Australians have been repeatedly told: Stay the bloody hell home.

The coronavirus outbreak could be under control in just over three months if eight out of 10 Australians abide by the social distancing regulations.

The university’s Faculty of Engineering released its modelling on Wednesday, which showed if that if the figure slips down to even just seven [out of 10], we drastically negatively affect our chances of flattening that all-important curve.

That means every individual’s actions are vital.

Eighty per cent of people complying, for four months – that’s the best possible scenario for us, the researchers say. (Note: The results haven’t been strenuously peer-reviewed but they still carry weight.)

Can we make this any more clear? Stay home. Graphic: University of Sydney

Professor Mikhail Prokopenko is a pandemic modelling expert and led the study.

He said we must practise social distancing if we want to control the disease – rather than have it control us.

“There is a clear trade-off – stricter measures imposed earlier would reduce how long our lives are impacted by this disease,” Professor Prokopenko said.

“On the contrary, laxer protocols could mean a longer, more drawn-out and ineffective struggle against COVID-19.”

Why do we want to flatten the curve again?

The more we delay the peak of the virus, the more time our health systems have time to adequately prepare.

And the better chance we have of a treatment or vaccine being developed and distributed.

Again: Every decision we make as individuals to stay home makes a difference to how quickly can bring this outbreak under control.

“We can do it. We are still in control of our lives and the lives of other people if we do it like that,” ABC reported Professor Prokopenko as saying.

You might have seen the below graph circulating the internet. It’s a visual representation of how your choice makes a hell of a difference.

There has been a lot of talk about schools, and why aren’t we shutting them.

This research draws a similar conclusion to what we’ve been told – shutting schools won’t significantly reduce new cases in older adults, but it would slightly increase the amount of new cases in children when the pandemic peaks.

Its modelling shows school closures would only delay the pandemic peak by two weeks.

(The modelling, by the way, has been used to map the spread of influenza in Australia before. It works on a simulation of the Australian population’s locations and movement habits.)

Remind me again how to social distance

The 80 per cent modelling of social distancing being effective at reining in this thing includes social distancing on top of already enforced measures, such as interstate and international travel bans.

This 80 per cent is calculated by either one person per household going out once in the space of five days, or one member per family of five could go out every day, providing the other four stay at home.

Time to draw straws.

The over-arching key to getting social distancing right is staying home.

Yeah, it’s boring. Yeah, you’ll go a bit stir-crazy and start talking to animals – or worse, inanimate objects.

But the sooner we embrace the toaster as a decent conversationalist, the sooner we can return to life as we know and love it.

If you must leave the house (and look, some of us will have to) make sure it’s only for essential reasons.

We’ve got a rundown here and another that covers the latest gatherings restrictions, but if you want the bullet points, check below.

Shopping: Don’t go if you’re feeling unwell. If you do go, make use of in-store hand sanitiser and stay a trolley-length or more from other shoppers. Don’t fondle stuff, umm-ing and ahh-ing over the different kinds of peanut butter on the shelves. Follow any in-store markings for distance, and abide patiently by any customer number restrictions. And don’t be rude to staff. Or fellow customers. Or anyone. Wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Petrol: Wash your hands before and after pumping that gas. Or, wear gloves.

Social gatherings: No. Use FaceTime. Wash your hands just for good measure.

Medical appointments: Most services are available via Telehealth now. If you’re feeling unwell, call your GP first – don’t just walk in.

Here’s a checklist we made to make it even simpler. Above all, folks – stay home where you can. Stay healthy. Stay positive. Stay kind.