"It's a very lonely death." The 7 most important moments from last night's Q&A.

Last night GPs, emergency workers, hospital disaster managers and respiratory physicians spoke about the current state of COVID-19 in Australia on Q&A.

They touched on their worst fears, their warnings for the public, and the lonely death victims of COVID-19 are forced to endure.

So far 43 people have died in Australia, with more than 5,700 infected with the virus.

Here are the 7 biggest questions they answered during the episode:

1. Can I travel over Easter? 

This is one of the big concerns of rural and regional communities as we head towards the Easter break, and the answer is no.

Dr John Hall, President of the Rural Doctors Association says in recent days they’ve seen “convoys of caravans heading out west”.

As Dr Hall explained on Q&A these hospitals are already stretched, and wouldn’t be able to cope with an outbreak of coronavirus brought in by travellers.

WATCH: Here’s a snippet of the question and answer. Post continues after video.

Video via ABC

The message from authorities and public health experts is stay at home, these communities don’t need our “help” right now. They need us to stay away.

The ACT has in fact made it illegal to go on holidays this Easter.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted all non-essential interstate travel – “the sort of travel that would not be normally part of your normal life” — should be abandoned immediately.

2. Will the Government establish a register of COVID-19 cases?

This is something that’s already being done in countries like China and Singapore, and allows the governments to keep a close eye on the movements and improvements of infected citizens.

Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen told Q&A he agrees it’s a good idea, but says the urgent need right now is more testing.


‘We’ve done a good job in Australia. But until we get to the position we’re testing everyone with symptoms, that’s when we’ll know whether the curve is flattening,” he said.

Liberal Member for Higgins, Katie Allen, says finding out if people get immunity after recovering from the virus is an important next step, but it’s not something that is an immediate priority.

“We have to wait until much further into the epidemic to know how many are recovering as we go along,” she said.

3. Should the government disclose the modelling of Australia’s COVID-19 response plan?

Basically the asker of the question is calling for more transparency, so that Australians can get a better understanding of our daily lives, health and future.

Respiratory Physician at Nepean Hospital, Dr Lucy Morgan, says the modelling she has had access to is the public John Hopkins database, which we can all see.

Dr Morgan says local real time data is important so she and her colleagues can see if what they’re doing is working. She would love to be able to eyeball what the government has come up with.

“It’s the most extraordinary immediate feedback,” she told Q&A. 

National cabinet will meet again today. Image: Getty.

Melbourne GP, Dr Vyom Sharma, thinks that releasing the modelling has now become a political necessity because of the lack of transparency and lack of trust in the government's messaging.

He says by releasing it however, they'll open themselves up to "armchair commentary".

MP Katie Allen says the government is today (Tuesday) considering the release of the modelling to the public in their national cabinet meeting.

4. What is the government doing to supply health workers with ample hand sanitiser and PPE?

According to Dr Stephen Parnis, an Emergency Doctor and Former AMA Vice President, this is the major worry of many of his colleagues and counterparts.

"I've seen department directors going to Bunnings. I've seen people look at contacts overseas. It's probably the number one concern for health workers around the country at the moment," he explained to the ABC.

Dr Vyom Sharma says masks are already being rationed at his practice and they're "down to about 10 or something like that".

On Sunday night, Health Minister Greg Hunt told 60 Minutes 30 million masks are "on the way".

Greg Hunt told 60 Minutes 30 million masks would be available to Australian healthcare workers within days. Image: Nine.

But Dr Parnis says they're worried about the mask supply chain which is predominately coming from overseas, and says more transparency is needed so they "know where the problems are".

5. Should Australians be using PPE when in public?

Australians are being told they only need to wear a mask in public if they are sick, but in Europe the public is being urged to put one on whenever they are out of their home.

Dr Vyom Sharma says masks for his staff are critical, but when it comes to the community it's a little bit more complicated because the virus is only "four-ish months old and we're still learning if masks are going to work [for asymptomatic carriers]".

He says the blunt answer is "we can't exactly be sure".

"But the most important mask, is the one that's going to end up on the face of healthcare workers and patients. That's the greatest benefit."

6. Are the current measures of restricting visitation to critical patients with COVID-19 lacking in humanity?

Due to the highly contagious nature of coronavirus, patients are dying alone in their beds, without any loved ones beside them.

Dr Lucy Morgan told the ABC it's a very lonely death, and a very lonely way to be very sick, but loved ones are kept away for their own safety.

She explains that patients become breathless, and every breath is painful. As the illness progresses they need more and more oxygen and then there comes a point where care can't be delivered in a ward and you are transferred to intensive care.

"Patients that crash deteriorate very very quickly, and all the effort of breathing is taken over by a machine. As COVID-19 progresses all sorts of parts of the body start to shutdown - hearts, blood pressure, kidneys. Once you're in ICU, and you have a machine breathing for you, you are not conscious. Your family can't talk to you. Your family can't even be with you," she told Q&A.

Dr Lucy Morgan
Dr Lucy Morgan described the lonely progression of the Covid-19 infection. Image: ABC.

Danielle Austin, Senior Nurse and Disaster Manager at St Vincent's Hospital, says at the moment Australia is not seeing the same scenes as Italy and the US, but her concern is that "without that being very real here, people will think it's not that bad. 'We'll just go for a walk', or 'we'll just go to the shops.'"

Austin says that we will get to those scenes if Australians become complacent with their social distancing.

"It's not really about what we're doing on the front line, it's about what everybody else is doing," she explained.

Dr Parnis added that many of his colleagues were struggling to sleep at the moment due to the stressful nature of the current crisis, and he himself is waking up in the middle of the night worrying about running out of beds and supplies.

7. Is there a mapped-out process with modelling of what will happen next?

As Dr Sharma told the ABC, the short answer is - no one knows.

"The good news is no one could have foreseen that the curve would take this particular shape. It's early days yet, but the reason we don't have a fully fledged plan is because we don't know what's going to happen next," he explained.

One of the models that's been proposed for example is we come in and out of lockdown as required.

But Dr Stephen Parnis, says that when the stakes are so high, you've got to play it safe.

"No one has regretted going hard and fast on lockdown," he said. "I wouldn't want to pull back prematurely."

Feature image: ABC. 

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.
To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.