Epidemiologist Warns Victoria Could Be Locked Down For Up To Two Years
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has held off from introducing Stage 4 restrictions on the state, despite the largest daily spike in coronavirus cases anywhere in Australia since the pandemic began.
Parts of the state are in Stage 3 lockdown in a bid to curb the number of new infections. As a result of the second wave, Victorians have been banned from going interstate.
One epidemiologist is worried that if things don't change, that system could be in place for 18 months to two years.
Professor Tony Blakely told the ABC that Victoria could be isolated from the rest of the country until a vaccine comes around, which could still be months or years away.
"So let's assume that Victoria doesn't get rid of the virus...It essentially means Victoria is going to have to function in isolation from the rest of Australia until such time as we get a vaccine, assuming the other states don't want the virus back in. If I was in the [other] states, I wouldn't want the virus back in," Prof. Blakely said.
He added that Victoria could go into a hard lockdown for two reasons.
"One is that you are actually going for elimination, which I'm still advocating for, because that's the better strategy in the medium to long-term, 18 months, two years, it would be better to be in that state," he said.
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"The other reason is that if the ICU capacity or health services were under threat. We are not at that level yet; it would be 2,500 cases a day before ICU would be near to that number. It's not being used in Victoria yet."
That would be a worrying reality for many Victorians if it came true. Fingers crossed the number of new cases starts to drop over the next few weeks that the Stage 3 lockdown is enforced.
Victoria's Chief Health officer Professor Brett Sutton hasn't leant towards doing a Stage 4 lockdown because the transmission data doesn't support it.
"We have to understand where the transmission is occurring and what measures will be most effective in reducing it," he said. "I certainly wouldn't even assume that a New Zealand-style lockdown will address the issues that we have.
"Obviously people were very constrained during that four-week period in New Zealand, but New Zealand didn't have significant community transmission.
"They were identifying the close contacts of international travellers and it was a much, much more straightforward contact tracing process. So I wouldn't say that a harder, more constrained lockdown is the necessary way to go."
It will certainly be touch and go over the next few weeks and hopefully the state can see its way out of the second wave.
Featured Image Credit: PA