WITH only 72 reported COVID-19 cases in the Hunter New England Health region, and close to 2000 nationally, the dramatic shuttering of of our daily lives has had more of an impact, for most of us, than the virus itself.
At this stage.
But as public health physician Dr David Durrheim observes, confirmed cases are doubling every 3.5 days or so.
And this is while most of the stricken have either been on an international flight or a cruise ship, or had a household member with the virus.
In other words, there has been little of the community spread that the draconian shut-downs are trying to prevent.
Coronavirus global dashboard, courtesy of Johns Hopkins University
Converting that doubling rate into numbers means the 72 cases reported yesterday (Tuesday) would become 288 cases next Tuesday, the last day of March.
On Tuesday, April 7, the total would be 1152. On April 14, the number would be 4608. This is where the numbers really accelerate.
On April 21, they become 18,432, and on the last Tuesday in April, just five weeks from now, we could have 73,728 cases. In the Hunter New England region alone!
This is not to be alarmist, because the rate will hopefully slow in the weeks ahead.
But such statistical forecasts will be driving the unprecedented restrictions on public movement being put in place all over the world.
In the meantime, the massive job losses now sweeping the region and the nation are the main concern for those whose livelihoods are suddenly at stake.
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The brunt of what may only be a first wave of unemployment is being borne by those whose casual or part-time jobs lack the sorts of protections that employers were expected to provide before the deregulation of the Australian labour market.
But even big firms that fold may not have enough to pay their employee entitlements.
Regardless of the eventual number of corporate collapses, the federal government's Fair Entitlements Guarantee or FEG - which covers some of the benefits owed employees of companies that are liquidated or bankrupt - will be flooded with demands for assistance.
To minimise job losses, pressure will mount on Canberra to provide UK-style wage subsidies, especially if businesses keep closing their doors.
Such a step would be philosophical anathema to the Liberal Party, but practicality must trump political pride at a time when the Prime Minister's election mantra - "a fair go for those who have a go" - has been rendered irrelevant.
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