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Epidemiologist weighs in on whether Melbourne’s restrictions will ease on October 19

Amid rising concern that COVID-19 restriction easing in Melbourne may be delayed, a leading epidemiologist has shared some good news.

On October 19, if Victoria’s rolling case average over the previous 14 days is less than five, and there have been fewer than five cases with an unknown source in the past fortnight, Melbourne will move to the Third Step on the reopening roadmap.

But Victoria’s reproductive rate rose above one on Sunday, prompting fears restriction easing may be postponed.

Epidemiologist and member of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for COVID-19, Marylouise McLaws, said we should pay attention to the ‘r’ number, but there’s no need to panic yet.

“It has raised its head above one around October 4, and you’ve got to make sure it doesn’t keep doing that,” she told Neil Mitchell.

Ms McLaws said if the reproduction rate is consistently over one, then easing restrictions will be off the table, but a single rise isn’t necessarily cause for panic.

Thankfully, she thinks Victoria is winning the “very slow battle” against coronavirus.

But there’s more we can do.

“It just feels like you’re trying to walk through cement,” she said.

“You are winning, but I would suggest that Victoria needs to start doing some more testing.

“The more you know about where these numbers are popping up the better you’ll have control over it.”

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