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Worldwide coronavirus cases could ‘five or ten times’ official figure

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

“The only numbers I have total faith in are the Australian numbers, frankly.”

Australia's Chief Medical Officer has warned that the true number of coronavirus cases worldwide could be as high as 10 million, ten times more than the official tally.

The official figure passed the one million mark overnight, with just over 53,000 deaths.

In Australia, the official tally is 5274 confirmed cases – a number Professor Brendan Murphy says would otherwise have been doubled without harsh social distancing laws introduced 12 days ago.

"We've now passed a million reported cases of COVID-19, but we believe the true number is probably five or ten times as much as that," Prof. Murphy said.

"We know that, judging by the death rate and the testing rate, in many countries they're not detecting all the cases.

"There are some countries that don't have the capacity to test."

Italy is currently reporting just over 115,000 cases with a death rate of around 12 per cent – many times higher than in Wuhan, the original epicentre of the outbreak.

Prof. Murphy touted Australia's testing regime as "probably the best in the world".

He named China and the United States among the countries whose cases were likely under-reported.

"The only numbers I have total faith in are the Australian numbers, frankly," Prof. Murphy said.

Prof. Murphy said he was confident Australia had a handle on its caseload.

"Whilst there will certainly be some undetected cases, we have a pretty good idea of the size of our outbreak," he said.

The rate of increase of confirmed cases in Australia has fallen to five per cent today, from a high last week of 30 per cent, in what Prof. Murphy called an "encouraging" sign.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said if the nation had not followed strict social distancing measures in recent weeks another 5000 people would have been infected.

"That is a tribute to the work that has been done by Australians in getting around and supporting the very sensible measures that have been put in place all around the country by the state and territory governments," Mr Morrison said.

But both Mr Morrison and Prof. Murphy warned that community transmissions could still spread rapidly if people didn't heed social distancing regulations.

NSW Police patrol a deserted area by Sydney harbour. The city is under tight social distancing restrictions.

A key figure used to determine the scale of the outbreak is community transmissions, which are confirmed cases that health authorities are unable to trace.

In Sydney, there are over 300 known cases of community transmission, while Melbourne has approximately 60, Brisbane 30 and other areas have seen small clusters.

"We cannot stop, because those community transmissions have been growing and they are still growing slowly and we have to keep doing the measures to keep them under control," he said.

Source: 9News

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