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‘Just because you want it to be over doesn’t mean it is’


Paul Hayes


28/06/2020 1:51:16 PM

Victoria has recorded 165 coronavirus cases in three days, with the state’s Chief Health Officer saying the situation ‘will get worse before it gets better’, but the ongoing spike is not being called a second wave.

Daniel Andrews
Premier Daniel Andrews has called on Victorians to play their part in getting on top of the state’s ongoing coronavirus spike. (Image: AAP)

UPDATED

Victoria recorded 75 new coronavirus cases on Monday, following 49 on Sunday and 41 on Saturday. The state has 288 active cases, with nine people in hospital.

The state has now recorded double-digit cases on 13 straight days, while the rest of Australia has seen very few; Victoria recorded 367 new cases in the fortnight from June 15–29 June, while the rest of the country had 65 combined over the same period.

‘We are obviously concerned by the increasing number and upward trend, and we are monitoring the situation very closely,’ Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Monday.

The State Government has started a 10-day testing blitz of the state’s coronavirus hotspots, having last week named the 10 most affected Melbourne suburbs:

  • Keilor Downs
  • Broadmeadows
  • Maidstone
  • Albanvale
  • Sunshine West
  • Hallam
  • Brunswick West
  • Fawkner
  • Reservoir
  • Pakenham
More than 792,000 tests have been done in the state, including approximately 53,000 in the blitz on hotspot suburbs. More than 15,000 test have been completed since Sunday.

‘Many of the cases that have come through today, they are overwhelmingly concentrated in those priority suburbs,’ Minister Mikakos said.

The 75 new cases are the state’s highest single-day increase since 68 were detected on 2 April. Victoria’s highest single-day tally of 111 cases was recorded on 28 March, two days before the state enacted stage three restrictions where people were only allowed to leave the house only for essential purchases. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said his government currently has no plans to lock down any of the hotspot suburbs, pending the results of the testing blitz. However, Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said partial lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus remain an option.

‘It will get worse before it gets better,’ Professor Brett Sutton told reporters on Monday.

‘What we’re seeing is transmission across settings because people are still going out with symptoms. Whether or not it needs a legal direction is a conversation to be had over the next few days. We are not there yet.

‘We know what the consequences are of a lockdown in terms of fatigue in people’s behaviours and we don’t want to drive people out of suburban areas into new unaffected areas.’

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was blunt when assessing of the state’s current coronavirus situation on the weekend.
 
‘Just because you want it to be over doesn’t mean it is. It simply isn’t. This is with us for a long time,’ he said at a press conference on Sunday 28 June.

Coronavirus-GPs-hero.jpg
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the state will ‘will take whatever steps are necessary in the interest of their public health’. (Image: AAP)

While Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd admitted Victoria’s increasing numbers ‘are of genuine concern’, he stopped short of calling the spike a second wave.

‘This is not a second wave and we hope that we do not come to the position of having a second wave of infections occurring within Australia,’ Professor Kidd, who is also a past President of the RACGP, said.

‘What we are seeing happening in Victoria is exactly what was planned when we have outbreaks occurring across the country with the immediate increase in the testing, the activation of the contact tracing to identify individuals who have been in contact with infected people, and the very rapid action to get people into isolation and quarantine and to prevent further transmission from occurring within the community.

‘The term second wave is not well-defined.

‘The second wave in the context of the Spanish Flu pandemic was a wave which went right across the world with further very high rates of infection and very high rates of mortality occurring and, of course, that's not what we are seeing at this time.’

Minister Mikakos echoed the idea that the new surge in cases was expected.

‘The agreed national strategy was a suppression strategy,’ she said. ‘We did anticipate that we would get new cases and outbreaks.’

The state has also begun rolling out the less-invasive saliva test, which has an accuracy rate of 87%, according to the Doherty Institute’s Professor Sharon Lewin.

‘The advantage of the saliva test is that it is much more acceptable for people to give a specimen,’ Professor Lewin said. ‘People just need to collect saliva in their mouth for a minute or two and then split it into a small jar and then that gets sent off to the laboratory.

‘We think it will play a role in bolstering testing reach across the state, particularly ... in vulnerable populations or in people who have trouble with the throat swab, such as children or other individuals who find it more acceptable.’

Premier Andrews said he wants Victorians to approach the latest stage in the same way they did when the virus initially struck.

‘The fact that everyone’s deeply frustrated, everyone wants to go back to normal shouldn’t change our approach,’ he said. ‘Please work with us, please do the right thing, please follow the rules, please get tested.
 
‘We need Victorians to play their part.’

Professor Sutton called the saliva test a ‘useful addition’.
 
‘Certainly the saliva test has been validated as a very useful test with very good accuracy,’ he said on the weekend.
 
‘It won’t be rolled out for absolutely everyone, but I think it’s that useful addition … in terms of not needing that personal protective equipment ... and the collection’s much easier.’

The rising numbers in Victoria have come against the backdrop of the world officially recording its 10 millionth case of coronavirus, 180 days after cases were first reported in Wuhan, China. The virus has now been reported in 210 countries and on every continent apart from Antarctica.

With AAP.

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