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Epidemiologist disputes Premier’s claim that COVID-19 variant is ‘moving at hyper-speed’

Neil Mitchell
Article image for Epidemiologist disputes Premier’s claim that COVID-19 variant is ‘moving at hyper-speed’

An epidemiologist has disputed the Premier’s claim that the UK variant of COVID-19 which sparked Victoria’s current outbreak is “moving at hyper-speed”.

Daniel Andrews made the claim in a statement when announcing the snap lockdown on February 12.

But chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, Professor Catherine Bennett, says it’s not true.

“That was, I’m sure, a very anxious Health Department expressing their fears when this was first unfolding,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“What we’ve seen since is that it is spreading at the normal rate. Unfortunately that is quite fast. You can be infectious within two or three days of being exposed, a couple more days if you’re going to get symptoms.”

Daniel Andrews also dubbed the UK variant “hyper-infectious”.

Professor Bennett says it is more infectious than other strains, but with such low levels of the virus in Victoria, that shouldn’t be a major problem.

“You’re talking about 11 per cent of close contacts with the other variant, with this variant it might be 14 or 15 per cent. That’s masses when you’ve got thousands of cases,” she said.

Professor Bennett says the next 24 hours are crucial for Victoria.

“The next couple of days are going to be critical … the exposure sites added include the Queen Victoria Market, which could be alarming,” she said.

“The good news is it’s the fruit and vegetable section, which is an outdoor area.”

Press PLAY below for more.

Neil Mitchell
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