Flattening the curve

As cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) rise around the globe, you’ve likely heard public health officials use the term ‘flattening the curve’.

This ‘curve’ is based on modelling and shows the likely number of people who will get COVID-19 over a period of time. Currently, many countries affected by COVID-19 are seeing continued large increases in the number of cases each day.

The average person with COVID-19 can infect up to 2-3 people. Without any control measures, these people then go on to infect another 2-3 people each. It can spread fast, and this is how we see large rises in cases.

#FlattenTheCurve: social distancing

#FlattenTheCurve: social distancing

Posted by Queensland Health

Flattening the curve means we are trying to slow down the spread of the virus to ensure the health system will cope. Right now, it’s just as important as stopping the spread of the virus.

What we want to see is the curve remaining steady – or flat – rather than rapid rises.

Every country in the world that has seen COVID-19 enter their borders is trying to flatten the curve while work is underway on developing a vaccine – and that’s why social distancing and travel measures were introduced.

Read more about how to protect yourself and others.

Flatten the curve: coronavirus (COVID-19)

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What scenarios are we prepared for?

Queensland Health has been working hard since the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in Australia to ensure our hospitals are well prepared for all scenarios that could happen.

The good news is that Australia has not seen the high number of cases that many other countries are now experiencing. We have also had time to look at what other countries have been doing to slow down the spread and put effective plans and restrictions in place.

We are prepared to triple our Emergency Department capacity and double our Intensive Care Unit capacity if and when required.

What does a full lockdown look like?

Under a full lockdown, only essential services such as supermarkets, petrol stations, banks and pharmacies remain open. It means no retail shops are open,and restaurants and cafes are completely closed, with no takeaway.

Everyone not involved in essential service areas must work from home.

People must only have physical contact with people in their household. You can still go to the supermarket or exercise in your suburb but strictly only with people in your household’.

The trigger for stage four lockdown is high daily increases in cases that are deemed community transmission – that's when we don’t know the source of infection.

If people follow the current restrictions and we continue to get fewer cases, further restrictions may not be needed.