AHPPC recommends that the goal for Australia is to have no community transmission of COVID-19, strengthening the current suppression strategy and updating metrics.
Recent outbreaks show us that if the disease is able to enter the community unseen, it will spread quickly.
Our strong public health advice is to pursue no community transmission, which many areas of the country have achieved. A goal of no community transmission has been a part of our suppression strategy from the start of the pandemic. AHPPC recommends that this now be more strongly pursued.
This involves knowing that single cases will occur. Success will rely on finding new cases early and stopping chains of transmission. If new chains appear, it is important to quickly find, contain and stop them.
When there is no community transmission, it is then possible to carefully relax restrictions, while maintaining some level of protection.
Achieving, and/or maintaining, this goal needs four key things:
- a strict commitment to personal measures (hygiene, physical distancing, staying home if unwell);
- active case finding and contact tracing;
- targeted testing of the affected population; and
- community-based interventions (limits on gathering sizes, new ways of working, movement restrictions).
Modelling suggests that case finding alone is only partly effective. It needs support from personal measures and scalable and suitable social interventions such as limits on gatherings.
Achieving this goal needs commitment – from people and communities, business, industry and government, including an effective public health response. Everyone must work together to find solutions to the problem, because COVID-19 is everyone’s business.
The goal of no community transmission accepts that outbreaks will remain a risk but there are things everyone can do to reduce this risk. Committing to these actions will help control the virus until a vaccine is found. The AHPPC recommends a review of the goal in three months, unless the situation changes.