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Stamping out COVID-19: Infectious diseases expert weighs in on what Victoria should do now

Article image for Stamping out COVID-19: Infectious diseases expert weighs in on what Victoria should do now

As COVID-19 rules relax across the state, an infectious diseases physician has weighed in on the measures we should rely on, and those we cannot count on to prevent another outbreak.

After more than 100 days of mandatory mask wearing outside the home, Victorians can today go mask-free in uncrowded outdoor areas.

Infectious diseases physician from the Doherty Institute and Melbourne University, Professor Sharon Lewin, welcomed the rule relaxation.

“Given the numbers of zero infections, and eventual elimination if we’re lucky, [there’s] no need for masks outdoors,” she told Ross and Russel.

Professor Lewin said attention must now turn to making sure the virus is detected if it reoccurs.

“Sewage testing could be an effective way to track any new entrance of virus into our community. Most people, not everyone, excrete the virus in their stool,” she said.

“It’s not perfect … but it’s not a bad thing to test and it tailors your testing a little bit.

“It could be very useful.”

While two vaccines have shown very promising results, Professor Lewin cautioned against relying on a vaccine becoming widely available in Australia soon.

“We can’t make that RNA vaccine here,” she said.

“I suspect the priority will be Europe and the US, given the number of deaths there currently.”

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