An infectious diseases expert has warned that Victoria’s “perfect storm” of failures could spread with virus spikes elsewhere in Australia.
An infectious diseases expert has warned that Victoria’s “perfect storm” of failures could spread with virus spikes elsewhere in Australia.

Victoria’s ‘perfect storm’ could spread to our state

An infectious diseases expert has warned that Victoria's "perfect storm" of failures could spread and lead to coronavirus spikes elsewhere in Australia.

Australian epidemiologist and World Health Organisation (WHO) adviser, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws told The Project Victoria's current outbreak was the result of "lifting restrictions, not taking control of clusterings".

"It's all a perfect storm, unfortunately," she told the Ten Network show on Tuesday night.

"Sadly it's a coming together of a lot of issues that have caused this spike.

"And it's something that the authorities could have been proactively identifying and working against, had they identified family clusterings earlier, to try to give them verbal instructions on how to prevent further infection."

She also implored all Victorians to get tested and to wear masks in public.

Asked whether the situation in Victoria meant it had lifted restrictions too soon, Professor McLaws said "definitely".

"There have been many cases of this overseas and we need to learn from our own observations of Melbourne," she said.

"But also from overseas, South Korea, Israel, they had definitely a second wave, not just a spike, when they lifted restrictions too soon.

"They didn't test enough, and of course they didn't wear masks in public.

Diseases expert Mary-Louise McLaws said Victoria’s failures were a “perfect storm” for COVID-19 and it could spike elsewhere. Picture: Channel 10
Diseases expert Mary-Louise McLaws said Victoria’s failures were a “perfect storm” for COVID-19 and it could spike elsewhere. Picture: Channel 10

 

"So there were several reasons for this, and again, lifting restrictions, not taking control of clusterings."

Asked whether Australia could see similar COVID-19 spikes in other states and territories, Professor McLaws replied "absolutely".

"Particularly out into the regional areas," she said.

"So everybody in Melbourne during the school holidays must not be travelling to regional areas.

"They must stay at home, because you don't want it escaping, because then we will be in even worse trouble.

"It's very difficult," she continued.

"During an outbreak, you don't just control the numbers, you don't just look to see how you're going, but you actually have to bring along the people with their hearts and their minds to trust you."

Professor McLaws said that, as an epidemiologist, she believed in eradication of the virus, but understood the financial and social effects of strict lockdowns.

Professor McLaws said Victoria had failed on a number of front leading to a “perfect storm” forcing premier Daniel Andrews to impose lockdowns again. Picture: Ian Currie/ NewsWire
Professor McLaws said Victoria had failed on a number of front leading to a “perfect storm” forcing premier Daniel Andrews to impose lockdowns again. Picture: Ian Currie/ NewsWire

"Lockdowns are never used in isolation," she said.

"Infection prevention and control is a bundle of things, even in an outbreak, in hospitals anywhere, it's not just one thing.

"So they need to increase testing and I would implore all Melburnians to take the test, because without the test, you can't remove, or control spread within family clusters.

"You also need to wear a mask in public, because as the patients go out or as a case who is in the early stages breathes out they are breathing in particles, some of them fall to the ground rapidly.

"Some will stay in the air longer and if you can't keep social distancing then at least your mask will protect you while you are in public transport or shopping.

"So, yes, they really need to include mask-wearing and a lot of testing."

candace.sutton@news.com.au

Originally published as Victoria's 'perfect storm' could spread



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