135 areas where lockdown could lift first

 

 

 

A leading immunologist has suggested rural areas in regional Australia with no coronavirus cases could safely have the lockdown lifted and return to normal life.

Stressing that to lift the lockdown was "a political decision" and not a scientist's role, Professor Ian Frazer said it would be "logical" for COVID-19 negative communities to do so.

This would apply to 135 regions and local government areas throughout Australia which as of last Friday remained coronavirus-free.

As The Australian reported, rural and remote parts of the country remain largely unaffected by the pandemic, other than being in lockdown like the rest of the country.

More than 135 regions and local government areas have recorded no COVID-19 cases up until Friday in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.

Most COVID-19 free zones are small regional towns and the majority are in tightly locked down WA.

Prof Frazer said regions within states could be locked off from other parts of the state and then safely return to a more normal existence.

"It would be logical if there were no cases in the rural Queensland community (to end the lockdown) and get on with being a community," he said.

"At the moment, Australia is in the middle of the balancing act.

"It's too early to stop restrictions on social interaction … just look at the northwestern Tasmania cluster.

"That could very easily happen anywhere in Australia.

"The other states were all in a downward trajectory and I think the trend will continue downward and governments will start having restrictions eased.

"Cities will be more difficult because we want to move around.

The country town of Bourke in northwestern NSW is coronavirus-free.
The country town of Bourke in northwestern NSW is coronavirus-free.

"If the new infection rate did get into single figures it would be highly unlikely there would be many community transmissions.

"I think people will have to get used to the idea that relaxation will occur and some people will feel more sociable and others will continue to social distance.

"The last of the restrictions to be lifted will be the first ones put in place: football matches and concerts, where contact tracing would be impossible.

"The other places would be cruise ships and public transport."

The Australian reported that Queensland's northern region is largely coronavirus-free and the Torres Strait and Cape York communities with their more vulnerable indigenous communities have zero cases to date.

"Queensland towns like Mt Isa in the northwest, St George in the southwest, and Barcaldine in the state's central west are also reporting no COVID-19 cases," it reported.

Esperance is one of 76 local government areas in Western Australia reporting no coronavirus cases. Picture: Mark Fitz
Esperance is one of 76 local government areas in Western Australia reporting no coronavirus cases. Picture: Mark Fitz

In NSW, towns like Forbes, Gilgandra, Bourke, Junee, Leeton, Kyogle and Bourke are free of the virus.

Not making the NSW list but still showing low transmissions are Gunnedah, which has one case, and the country city of Tamworth which has 12 COVID-19 cases, and no new ones since March 30.

NSW Health has reportedly tracked down the source of every Tamworth case.

Western Australia has 76 local government areas reporting no coronavirus cases.

This follows WA Premier Mark McGowan's crackdown on travel between regions in the state.

South Australian towns in the Flinders Range and Franklin Harbour have reported no cases and greater Adelaide holds 77 per cent of the state's population.

Prof Frazer said that in some ways the harder hit nations like Italy could have a shorter lockdown.

Robe, South Australia has zero coronavirus cases. Picture: Christine McCabe.
Robe, South Australia has zero coronavirus cases. Picture: Christine McCabe.

"In the countries in Europe which have been heavily hit you would have to presume a very large part of the community has been exposed to the virus," he said.

"With thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands have been exposed to the virus.

"Probably a large number of people have herd immunity and so they are thinking of relaxing restrictions.

"I think we will get herd immunity because it occurs with other coronaviruses.

"Ten per cent of the common cold is caused by coronaviruses.

"To get herd immunity, we would all have to get exposed to coronavirus. We don't really want that to happen in an uncontrolled fashion."

Prof Frazer said apart from Singapore's second wave of infection, China could expect its own second wave.

"China had a widespread epidemic in Wuhan and (Hubei) province," he said.

"The big problem now is the rest of China which hasn't been exposed.

"People are coming back and there will be cases I'm sure outside Wuhan."

candace.sutton@news.com.au

Originally published as 135 areas where lockdown could lift first

These communities in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia are COVID-19 free. Picture: The Australian
These communities in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia are COVID-19 free. Picture: The Australian
Some of the West Australian communities with no coronavirus cases. Picture: The Australian
Some of the West Australian communities with no coronavirus cases. Picture: The Australian

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