The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia has been doubling every 3-to-4 days. This is not surprising: the slowly-increasing measures put in place over the past week by the federal and state governments will take time to slow the growth of case numbers. But we should be clear: a shutdown of anything that isn’t truly essential will be needed to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system. In the coming days and weeks, the number of Australians diagnosed with COVID-19 will rise quickly. This will place great pressure on our health services, staff, and infrastructure, including intensive care units (ICUs). The likelihood that people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be admitted to an ICU depends on their age. About 20 per cent of people over 80 will need to be admitted to an ICU, while the rate for 50-to-59 year-olds is 1.2 per cent. Given Australia’s demographic make-up, the overall ICU rate is estimated at 2.2 per cent of diagnoses cases.
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