SEVERE SYMPTOMS: The Susceptibility Index ranks postcodes across the country by vulnerability to the virus using publicly-available information.
SEVERE SYMPTOMS: The Susceptibility Index ranks postcodes across the country by vulnerability to the virus using publicly-available information.

Study: Alpha more susceptible to coronavirus symptoms

ALPHA residents may have a greater susceptibility of severe illness in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak than the rest of the Central Highlands.

The University of New South Wales’s COVID-19 Susceptibility Index ranks postcodes across the country by vulnerability to the virus using publicly-available information about age and existing conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, or lung disease.

Postcode 4724, which comprises Alpha and its surrounds, was given a ‘risk score’ of 85, out of a total 100.

Elsewhere, the Central Highlands marked in the lows 30s, with Emerald and Blackwater receiving a four and a five respectively.

The Susceptibility Index also quantifies ‘socio-economic advantage’. By that measure, the higher number being better, Alpha was given 56 out of 100, Blackwater 55, and Emerald 71.

In general, the data suggest a correlation between the poverty of an area and its risk of suffering more greatly from infections.

A Queensland Health spokesman said that vulnerability to serious illness increased with age and the addition of other conditions.

“Older people and those with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to developing serious illness if infected with COVID-19,” he said.

“It is important to note the majority of Queensland cases had recently travelled overseas or had close contact with a confirmed case, such as their partner or flatmate.

He said there had been no confirmed coronavirus cases in the Central West.

The UNSW Business School partnered with consulting firm Finity to create the map.

Finity principal and lead researcher Aaron Cutter said initial results indicated regional areas were more susceptible to severe symptoms of COVID-19.

“The results are preliminary, but show that 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 have lower proportions of highly susceptible individuals compared to the rest of Australia,” he said.

“The index reveals that regional areas actually have greater susceptibility – not only because of age, but due to a number of other key characteristics.

“As Australia’s COVID journey matures, this preliminary information can assist attempts to model the pandemic’s development as well as help inform decisions regarding preventative measures.”


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