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The confronting COVID-19 reality an epidemiologist says Victorians ‘should get used to’

Neil Mitchell
Article image for The confronting COVID-19 reality an epidemiologist says Victorians ‘should get used to’

An epidemiologist says Victorians “should get used to the idea that next year we’re probably going to be getting 5000 to 10,000 infections per day at the peak”.

Professorial fellow in epidemiology at the University of Melbourne, Tony Blakely, says Victoria did the last lockdown “so well” but the same measures aren’t working as well this time around.

He says Victoria can continue to try and eradicate the virus, and he supports a hard lockdown until early September, but the situation is “not looking good”.

“I’m increasingly realising we were probably quite lucky in lockdown five,” Professor Blakley told Neil Mitchell.

But, if the state reaches September and is still recording about 50 cases a day, another month of hard lockdown may be required.

“Many Victorians may not be able to stomach that,” he said.

The alternative is pivoting to living with the virus “earlier than we would like”.

“We move into something like a soft lockdown … and we accept he numbers will go up on that but we catch it at about October, where it peaks at 300 or 400 cases per day or something like that, with the increase in vaccination coverage,” Professor Blakely said.

Professor Blakely cast doubt on the ability to safely reopen fully with 70 or 80 per cent of the population vaccinated if there are still high case rates.

“NSW, when they hit 70 per cent, if they’ve still got 500 cases per day and they just opened up … it would be carnage,” he said.

“Once we get both adults and kids vaccinated I think we can open up, but it’s still going to have to be slow.”

Professor Blakely warned “people should get used to the idea that next year we’re probably going to be getting 5000 to 10,000 infections per day at the peak”, but said due to high expected vaccination rates at that time, the mortality rate won’t be “nearly that bad”.

Press PLAY below to hear Professor Blakely’s full assessment on Victoria’s COVID-19 outlook

Neil Mitchell
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