The official number of coronavirus cases in Australia appears to be almost doubling every three days.
If this apparent rate of infection continues, Australia would have close to 20,000 cases by the start of April, according to statistics provided by state health departments.
That equates to about 153,000 by Easter.
Each Australian health department provides updated coronavirus case figures daily.
The numbers show Australian infections are on a similar trajectory to those seen in Europe.
The first coronavirus case in Australia was confirmed on January 25.
As of Monday morning, the country has 299 confirmed cases.
Three days ago, on March 12, Australia had 159 cases.
New South Wales Health confirmed the state had 171 coronavirus cases on Monday, March 16.
That number has risen from 92 just three days earlier.
The NSW school holidays start on Friday, April 9.
If cases continue to ‘double’ every three days, NSW could theoretically expect about 38,400 cases by the time students walk out the gates.
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Other Australian states have followed the same three-day ‘doubling’ pattern.
Queensland had 27 confirmed coronavirus cases on March 12. By March 15, the sunshine state had 61.
Victoria had 27 cases on March 12, climbing to 57 on March 15.
The government is trying to curb the number of new cases by using “social distancing” measures.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a ban, from Monday, on non-essential mass gatherings of more than 500 people.
In the video below schools in New York to shut down
And on Sunday, he said anyone arriving in Australia would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Cruise ships also have been banned from arriving at Australian ports for an initial 30 days.
The rapid rise of coronavirus cases in Australia is remarkably similar to the trends in Europe.
In France, which has now shut down shops, restaurants and cafes, cases have doubled between every two and every four days.
France has 4,499 confirmed cases. Three days ago, that number was 2,281.
In the United Kingdom, where people aged over 70 have been told to self-isolate, the same ‘doubling’ effect can be observed.
On March 14, the UK had 1,140 confirmed coronavirus cases. On March 11, the UK had 460.
Italy, known as the epicentre of the virus in Europe, reported cases doubling every two days.
The rate has gone down to doubling every five days since March 10.
Italians have been told to stay home, and restaurants, cafes and non-essential shops have been shut.
People who suspect they have coronavirus in NSW have been told they need to wait for up to five days for test results.
That means the official figures will lag behind the actual number of cases in the community.
With confirmed cases now in the hundreds, there’s been criticism around the rate of testing in Australia compared to places like South Korea.
With confirmed cases now in the hundreds, there’s been criticism around the rate of testing in Australia compared to places like South Korea. Credit: Getty Images
Deputy Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly told reporters on Monday the country’s primary goal in combatting the outbreak is to “slow the curve of an epidemic”.
He predicted as many as three in five Australians could contract the disease in the next month.