Performance of the health system during COVID-19 crisis in Australia 2020

The Australian public health care system is regarded to be among the best in the world and over ten percent of the country’s GDP is spent on health. Nevertheless, as the novel coronavirus spread and put health care resources around the world to the test, Australians were concerned that hospitals and other health services could eventually become overwhelmed. However, as the rate of COVID-19 infections in Australia were on the rise in March 2020, more than half of Australians still rated their health system’s response to the virus as excellent or good.

Protecting the most vulnerable

Early observations of the virus in China showed that older COVID-19 patients were more likely to require hospitalization and respiration than younger patients and projections from the Australian Department of Health predicted that as many as one in five people with COVID-19 over the age of 80 would be admitted to the ICU. People with chronic health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory conditions were also more likely to require additional medical attention if they contracted COVID-19.

Availability of health resources

As it became clear that a significant proportion of the world’s population would be exposed to COVID-19, most countries strived to ‘flatten the curve’ through social distancing measures. This concept aimed at delaying the spread of the virus in order ensure that medical facilities would not be overwhelmed and limited resources, such as respirators, would be available when required. Despite Australia’s public hospital system boasting more than 2.5 hospital beds per 1,000 of the population in most states and territories, the devastating public health emergency in Italy was a cause for concern. However, the Australian health system’s capacity proved to be adequate even as hospitalizations hit their peak in early April.

Opinion on the performance of the health system during COVID-19 crisis in Australia in March 2020

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Release date

March 2020



Survey time period

March 11 to 15, 2020

Number of respondents


Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

Survey participants responded to the question: "How would you rate the performance of the following individuals and groups in responding to coronavirus and its associated effects?"

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Statistics on "Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Australia"

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