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A leading epidemiologist weighs in on when Melbourne’s COVID-19 restrictions will ease

A leading epidemiologist says Melbourne is in a “strong position” to consider easing lockdown restrictions sooner than set out in the reopening roadmap.

Chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, Professor Catherine Bennett, says the past few days will have made the government “a lot more confident” about reopening, but there won’t be any easing just yet.

“I don’t think anything will happen this week,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“We’ve still got another week to really close down these current areas of transmission that they know about.”

Professor Bennett predicts Melbourne will move to the second step of the reopening plan as scheduled on September 28, but other steps could be taken before the dates set out on the roadmap.

“In a week (we) probably have a good chance of breaking through the bottom of that 30 to 50 range they’re looking for,” she said.

“It’s even possible we could be down pushing towards 10.

“We’re definitely looking at things moving faster.

“Hopefully we could see some announcements about what might happen over the next week or two.”

Professor Bennett said the handling of the Casey cluster shows Victoria’s contact tracing capacity has improved.

“While it’s a reminder that this is something you have to really stay on top of and be fast in terms of tracing contacts … it shows you can contain an outbreak that, once spread across five households, could get out to the community,” she said.

Press PLAY below for more.

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