From my experience with other infectious disease outbreaks, here are some things you can expect over the coming weeks and months:
Over the coming days and weeks:
1. we will see a drop in the number of new cases as the number of cases will begin to reflect the lockdown period.
2. we will see an increase in the number of deaths from existing cases
3. We will start seeing some more cases of community transmission as the overseas cases begin to resolve, and attention shifts to community transmission control
4. We will likely see stricter social distancing laws come into effect to prevent further community transmission - these will likely last around 4 - 6 weeks.
5. Home testing will likely be available (currently about to be rolled out in the UK)
6. Likely to have a treatment for mild and severe cases of infection which will potentially reduce the mortality rate (may be a couple of months though depending on testing)
Over the coming months:
1. We will see a reduction in new cases towards zero as post strict social distancing laws cases begin to show.
(The above one is tricky to accurately predict as we will be moving into winter, where historically people are more likely to be ill - we will likely have a lot of confused cases between the flu/cold and COVID-19)
2. Once zero new infections have been maintained for 2- 4 weeks, the government will likely relax social distancing laws.
3. Schools will reopen and parents will celebrate having the kids out of the house (I'm sure most can't wait for this day to come yay!)
4. International borders will remain closed with countries that have positive cases still - and strict testing of people upon arrival or pre-departure will be required (to prevent re-introduction)
5. Interstate travel will likely be permitted at this stage
6. Until a vaccine is made available international travel will be troublesome and people will be extra cautious.
7. The vaccine is made available 10-16 months from today.
8. Life returns to the new normal.
These are my informed predictions based off working on the infectious outbreaks - some of the above may be wrong as it is difficult to predict human behaviour during pandemics. We need to work together, we need to remember that are in this for the long run, and we all need to play our part in fighting this virus. so stay home, stay safe and stay healthy.
Dr Mo Assoum
Infectious Disease Epidemiologist