Island success

AUSTRALIA has been successful in lower numbers of cases of the virus, than the rest of the western world, according to a Swan Hill doctor.

Swan Hill Medical Group senior doctor Stewart Booth said the COVID-19 testing regime in Australia "stuttered" at the start, but was now "quite robust".

According to the Australian Government's Department of Health and Human Services, yesterday (May 6), there was 6,875 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, 97 deaths and 5,984 people who have recovered.

On the same day, worldwide the World Health Organization said there were 3,595,662 confirmed cases, resulting in 247,652 deaths.

"The more people who get tested, the more we'll be able to see if there's community transmission," Dr Booth told The Guardian.

Dr Booth said it was interesting the death rate in Australia was just one per cent, compared to countries like Spain, Italy and England.

But, he said it was unclear if the death rate was "real numbers" or just the number of people being tested for the virus.

"The generally reported death rate for flu is .1 per cent," he said.

"On the Australian statistics, we're talking about 1 death per 1000 deaths, 10 times more deadly than the flu in terms of the death rate that goes."

Dr Booth said there was many ways people could continue to prevent themselves from contracting the virus.

"The social distancing is really important," he said.

"Regular hand sanitising, sanitising objects that you touch frequently, so the hand piece of the phone I'm talking to you on, mobile phone, keyboards and door handles.

"Avoid handling cash."

Dr Booth said their practice had changed the way they operated throughout the pandemic.

"Our staff go through the building after each patient cleaning things that might have been touched," he said.

"We've put up signs and distance between chairs (in waiting room areas).

"Eighty per cent of our consults are by telephone or video conference rather than actual face-to-face."

Dr Booth said it was also important for people to support local shops and business, refrain from hoarding items and trust and follow advice from Australian health experts, not overseas politicians.