REVEALED: North Burnett towns most at risk of coronavirus
SEVERAL North Burnett towns are most at risk of coronavirus infection according to study conducted by the University of New South Wales.
UNSW, in partnership with strategic analytics firm Finity have created the COVID-19 Susceptibility Index, which maps vulnerable populations in Australia who are at severe risk if they’re infected with the coronavirus.
The map reveals Biggenden and Monto are ranked the highest in the North Burnett, closely followed by Eidsvold, Gayndah, Mundubbera, and Mount Perry.
The index ranks postcodes based on significant comorbidities such as age, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and lung disease.
Clinical research and publicly available health data helped define these overall risk scores of areas, and their susceptibility to coronavirus.
Lead researcher Aaron Cutter said he was surprised to find a real divide between rural and metro areas according to the map.
“The vulnerable population segments are generally situated away from capital cities,” Mr Cutter said.
“While the initial wave of COVID-19 cases was concentrated around capital cities due to population density plus proximity to cruise ships and international airports, these areas consist of lower proportions of highly susceptible individuals compared to the rest of Australia.
“The Index reveals that regional areas actually have greater susceptibility – not only because of age, but due to a number of other key characteristics.”
The report stipulates one of the most susceptible groups to critical illness seems to be the disadvantaged retired population.
An examination of results suggests lower socio-economic levels also correspond consistently to higher average risk of severe COVID-19 illness.
Ranked from zero to 100, Biggenden topped the charts with a risk score percentile of 88, followed by Monto on 84.
Eidsvold followed closely behind on 80, Gayndah on 74, Mount Perry 72, then Mundubbera on 71.
The North Burnett had only one confirmed case of coronavirus, with council indicating the patient quarantined and recovered in Brisbane.
Researchers are hoping the Susceptibility Index will help identify areas most at risk, to aid in “medical, infrastructure and logistic planning” by governments.
“When a vaccine becomes available, the index could be used to identify which population segments should be prioritised,” the report said.
“The Index could also help with decisions around testing for COVID-19 in populations who may be likely to go on to have severe reactions to the disease should they become infected.”
There are currently no active cases of coronavirus in the Wide Bay area.