ABC Survey Report on for Regional Area Shows

The Electorate of Lyne has the third highest risk rate for CoronaVirus in Australia.  

Coronavirus data shows risk factors are high in regional and coastal areas, lower in cities.

The ABC Story Lab Report by Markus Mannheim has the following story:

As coronavirus spreads across Australia, it won’t affect each place evenly — some populations are more vulnerable than others.

In particular, non-metropolitan areas along the east coast would be among the most at risk, according to the Australian National University’s (ANU) Centre for Social Research and Methods.

The centre recently developed a health index for Catholic Social Services Australia, which wanted to understand in which electorates its help was most needed.

Associate professor Ben Phillips said he considered heart problems, diabetes, asthma, obesity and other chronic conditions, as well as factors such as smoking and disabilities.

The result is effectively a measurement of the underlying health of a given community, and its level of health disadvantage compared to other areas.

Coincidentally, the index contained “effectively the same variables” associated with higher COVID-19 death rates, Dr Phillips said.

“We’re saying nothing about where the infection rates will be greater or smaller,” he said.

“But for a given infection rate — let’s say 10 per cent — these are the areas where there may be more call on hospitals, greater levels of sickness and, unfortunately, greater death rates.”

The areas of greatest health disadvantage are not necessarily the poorest regions, though having wealth helps.

Instead, higher risks align most closely with older populations.

“That tends to mean rural areas and coastal areas,” Dr Phillips said.

The population in regional Australia might be older and more at risk, but how likely is coronavirus to spread into these more sparsely populated parts of the country?

Professor Ross Andrews, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at the ANU, offered a grim prognosis.

“Based on what’s happening in the rest of the world, at the moment you’d have to say — it’ll get there,” he said.

“It’s just a question of how long it will take.Once the infection gets there, you’ll see higher death rates and higher rates of complications that need acute intervention.”

He said it was critical to prevent the infection from reaching at-risk populations for as long as possible, and ideally until a vaccine or effective anti-viral treatments were available.

“Flattening the curve is partly about trying to do that: stopping the infection from getting to these places,” he said.

“The core thing that we know works is to isolate the sick people — that can break the chain of transition.

“If we manage to do that, we have much more hope.”

Health advantage by federal electorate

(Lower numbers show greater health disadvantage.)

Electorate Health index
Braddon (Tas) 820
Cowper (NSW) 825
Lyne (NSW) 833
Hinkler (Qld) 837
Lyons (Tas) 852

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