Australia braces for up to 150,000 coronavirus deaths

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Australia could see as many as 150,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to new statistics.

Paul Kelly, the country's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, predicts that 20 to 60 percent of the population could see infections. Under the best-case scenario with a 20 percent infection rate, approximately 50,000 out of 5 million infected people would die. Under the worst-case scenario with a 60 percent infection rate, approximately 150,000 people out of 15 million infected individuals would die.

He strongly recommends the public to participate in social distancing, which involves avoiding visits to public spaces and limiting gatherings as much as possible. Such would help tremendously in slowing the rise in cases and keeping the death rate low.

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"This is an infectious disease. The more we can do to separate people and stop the disease spreading, the better. The death rate is around 1 percent. You can do the maths," Kelly added.

On Monday, all chief medical officers in Australia participated in a six-hour meeting in Canberra to discuss the numbers. They also deliberated on the public health measures they are considering to implement during the coronavirus crisis.

So far, the national cabinet has also agreed to restrict indoor gatherings to less than 100 people. Additionally, Australians are advised not to travel overseas, and stricter sanitization requirements have been rolled out for public transit.

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The number of local coronavirus cases is expected to rise to 1,000 by the week's end after spikes occurring in New South Wales. As of Wednesday, the country has 539 confirmed cases and six deaths.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has commented on the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a "once-in-100" year type event. He warned that disruptions could persist for six months or longer.

"We haven't seen this sort of thing in Australia since the end of the first World War, but together we are of course up to this challenge," he added.

Photo by Rishiraj Singh

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