Victoria COVID cases could lead to a similar increase in NSW cases
Faced with a more infectious and less compliant strain than last year, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews tightened the Melbourne lockdown on Monday. In line with national strategy, he is pushing to eliminate community transmission in order to reopen Victoria and avoid a repeat of what could be months of lockdown in NSW.
Professor Maximilian de Courten, a public health expert at the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University, has warned that this could be a futile task, especially in light of predictions about the NSW cases.
“It’s a numbers game and absolutely the more cases there are in NSW, the greater the risk for other states like Victoria,” he said. “Some modeling suggests that even if we go down to zero and open, the virus will cross in four to six weeks, causing a lockdown. It can be even faster with such high cases. It’s that yo-yo lockdown situation that no one wanted. “
Nearly 500 of Wednesday’s 633 cases in New South Wales were in western Sydney while Kempsey, five hours north of Sydney, became the latest in a growing list of affected regional towns.
Rules around Victoria’s border with NSW are stricter than at any time since the start of the pandemic: Victorian residents can only return home with a rare exemption, non-essential travel in bubble towns border crossing have been banned and industries such as freight must adhere to regulations such as drivers screened every three days.
Nevertheless, since movers from Sydney triggered Victoria’s fifth lockdown last month, two women were able to board a flight from Sydney last week before being pulled over at Melbourne airport. They were quarantined in a hotel where they later tested positive.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed on Wednesday that her country’s growing cluster is linked to Sydney, but without going into details.
Professor de Courten said 100% sealed borders were not possible.
“If we can’t always keep this virus inside quarantine hotels with trained staff, there’s no way we can think of it as being able to stop it from jumping over the border. “
As part of Australia’s goals to reopen 70 and 80 percent immunization, the number of cases across the country must be at or near zero – illustrating the nationwide headache caused by the cases bloat from NSW.
Amid suggestions from some federal government MPs that NSW will never achieve zero community transmission, Burnet Institute infectious disease expert Suman Majumdar said, “COVID-zero will not be forever, but it is. which is needed now.
“Until we get very high immunization levels, lockdown will remain a key part of our response. Why? Because containments are necessary to protect our health system, let alone control the virus.
“This phase [of life after lockdown] won’t be as fast as everyone hopes until NSW gets a degree of control, and that’s why the relevant thing to do right now is get back to COVID-zero. “
Western Australia could move New South Wales to an unprecedented ‘extreme risk’ border category if the average number of sliding daily cases reaches 500 for at least five days.
Premier Mark McGowan said travel would be reduced to a handful of arrivals per day if that happened, only allowing “those people that we basically can’t block under the constitution.”
“They are federal bureaucrats on federal affairs, defense officials and Commonwealth parliamentarians, but there would be strong restrictions on how these people could move around the community,” he said.
Among the cases of unknown source in Victoria is a sex worker from St Kilda who recently spent time at a boarding house.
Mr Weimar said on Wednesday that two people who tested positive in the St Kilda area were homeless. He said he believed the sex worker who tested positive, along with an acquaintance of him, had been detected due to an emergency room presentation.
Health Minister Martin Foley stressed that there was no evidence of transmission due to the sex worker’s occupation.
Industry leaders say the state’s homeless hotel program operates during closures, but with far fewer venues than during the second shutdown last year.
Youth Projects chief executive Ben Vasiliou said sector leaders fear Melbourne’s homeless community is at significant risk and that if more positive cases are referred on Thursday, there will be more support to bring them to fruition. quarantine would be necessary.
“It is moving very, very fast,” he said.
Everyone in St Kilda and the surrounding suburbs – including all residents of Port Phillip whether or not they show symptoms – have been urged to get tested, with 15 unrelated cases in the southeastern suburbs these last days.
Nearly 40,000 test results were received on Wednesday after a series of days hovering around the 30,000 mark. The state has launched a new campaign encouraging Victorians to get tested as soon as they feel symptoms, authorities aiming for numbers over 40,000 every day.
Victoria will receive an additional 175,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine out of a million from Poland starting this weekend. Mr Foley said they would likely be handed over to essential workers and areas particularly affected by epidemics.
Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson, which represents the state’s 165,000 professional freight workers, said drivers had not yet been given priority for access to vaccines despite 15,000 trucks crossing the Victoria-NSW border each day.
“We advocate that drivers get vaccinated as soon as possible, but some are not eligible for the recommended vaccine and for many it is difficult to physically go to a doctor when driving or dealing with fatigue full time.” , said Mr. Anderson. noted.
The government on Wednesday announced more support for live performances canceled due to restrictions. Eligible event presenters will receive up to $ 12,000, while contracted suppliers will receive up to $ 4,000.