Australia has had its highest number of new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, with 568 people now infected by the disease.
There have been 110 confirmed cases in Australia in the past day, which is a 24 per cent increase, with new cases being found in five states.
Coronavirus cases in Australia have skyrocketed from 73 to 568 in less than two weeks, with more than 204,000 people globally infected by the disease.
A passenger wearing a face mask in Brisbane International Airport on Wednesday
There have been 568 cases of coronavirus identified in Australia – but more are expected in coming days and weeks
More than 81,000 people globally have recovered from the disease, while the Australian death toll is six.
Australia is set for an explosion in coronavirus cases in the next 14 days before the potential effects of social distancing kick in, experts have warned.
With cases of the virus now doubling every three days on home soil, more than 1,000 Australians will likely be struck down with the virus by the weekend.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced a social distancing policy last week, asking people to keep at least 1.5m distance between each other to avoid catching the coronavirus.
He then suspended international travel and banned indoor gatherings of more than 100 people on Wednesday.
University of New South Wales head researcher at Kirby Institute, Raina MacIntyre, said the rapidly growing trend would continue for at least a fortnight, when the impact of Mr Morrison’s social distancing measures would begin to take effect.
Three women wearing face masks in Neutral Bay on Wednesday following spike in coronavirus cases
‘We’re very much on the upward part of the curve. We can expect there to be a lot more cases tomorrow and even more cases the day after… things are going to get a lot worst a lot faster,’ she told The Australian.
‘We’re looking like the countries in Europe that are experiencing quite severe surge in cases. It means that the epidemic is getting bigger very fast.
‘Whether we get as bad as Italy depends on how we handle the response from here on and how much we manage to reduce contact between people with the measures we’re undertaking.’
At least 3,500 medical professionals and experts signed an open letter pleading with the Australian government to take a tougher stance against COVID-19 to avoid the ‘war-like conditions’ Italy is currently experiencing.
A woman wearing a face mask sits on a bench at Sydney Harbour in front of the Sydney Opera House on Friday
This graph shows the steep increase in coronavirus cases in Australia. From 25 cases at the end of February, we have reached 568 by March 18
In the letter, intensive care specialist Greg Kelly aligned the nation’s demographic and health care system closer to Italy rather than China.
When China reached close to the number of cases we currently have in Australia, the government shut down the entire Hubei Province of 58million people.
Mr Kelly said the current rate of infection in Australia alone suggests at least 12,000 people could catch the deadly respiratory virus by April.
‘On current growth rates the 370 cases in Australia today will be 750 on Friday, 1,500 on Tuesday next week, 3,000 next Saturday, 6000 on the 1st of April and 12,000 by the 4th of April,’ the letter reads.
The letter calls for an immediate and mandatory national lockdown, as well as further resources deployed to hospitals to help them fight the inevitable surge in cases in coming weeks.
A woman leaving Coles in Waterloo in central Sydney wearing a face mask on Sunday amid the coronavirus outbreak
Mr Kelly described the virus as ‘predictable’ and said international evidence proves cases double every three to five days within a country until strict lockdown orders are imposed.
From the time of lockdown, the disease will take roughly two weeks to show signs of slowing down based on the time it takes for symptoms to show in most cases.
Australia’s current healthcare system would be ‘in a worse position than Italy is currently in’ should the predictions come to fruition, the letter says.
Mr Kelly, along with the almost 4,000 signatories, asked the government to follow the measures taken by China, South Korea and Singapore to prevent further carnage in Australia.
They applaud the government for the recent implementation of the social distancing policies but say they need to be pushed even further and be strictly enforced.