COVID-19 modeling shows 13 deaths over 300 days during ‘outbreaks’ after SA lifts border restrictions

COVID-19 modeling prepared for the SA government suggests keeping current social restrictions in place will be key to minimizing pressure on Southern Australia’s health system, as well as deaths when state borders are reopened.

But even at best, the modeling predicts that 13 people would die over a 300-day period if an outbreak were to occur.

The work from the University of Adelaide takes into account a number of possible scenarios and supports the state’s COVID-Ready roadmap, which was announced last week.

That plan includes removing border restrictions for double-vaccinated, incoming travelers from New South Wales, Victoria and ACT on 23 November, where 80 per cent of SA’s eligible population is also expected to have been double-vaccinated.

Under the most moderate scenario – which is preferred by the health authorities and the SA government and maintains current social distance measures, including mandatory mask wearing – there is a 27 per cent chance of an “outbreak”.

But the modeling defines an “outbreak” as an average of “more than 100 cases per day over any three-day period” – a caseload that radically exceeds South Australia’s most significant clusters of the pandemic.

In such a scenario, the state’s death toll from coronavirus is expected to hit 13.

That figure would be far higher and an outbreak far more likely if other measures, including mandatory mask wearing and the current ban on “higher risk” activities, were lifted.

“This sowing rate is considered reasonable given the predicted number of people entering South Australia from the states where there are high rates of community transfer.”

Under another hypothetical scenario, where public health measures other than mandatory mask wearing would be maintained, the number of deaths would hit 55.

A third scenario estimates 315 deaths within the first 300 days, with a 84 percent probability if restrictions were lifted and vaccine certificates introduced to allow for “higher risk” activities.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier suggested that the figure could be conservative and that the state hospital system would come “under considerable pressure” if such an approach were adopted.

Nicola Spurrier in a green, blue and white striped top and a pearl necklace
Professor Spurrier said that maintaining mask wear will significantly reduce the likelihood of death.(ABC News)

“Using scenario three, we would have a high chance of experiencing the grim reality of as many as 400 South Australian deaths – a huge number of lives lost due to this extremely serious disease, especially compared to the death rates from influenza and traffic accidents,” he said. Professor Spurrier.

“Of the recently delivered modeling, Scenario 1 is the safest way forward and supports the opening of our borders while keeping the current public health restrictions in place.

“We know that all modeling has an element of uncertainty, but it makes it clear that the first scenario will provide the greatest opportunity to safely deal with the inevitable introduction of COVID-19 into our society.”

Authorities unveiled the state roadmap last week, but did not release all the modeling on which the plan was based.

More on the way.

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