Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC believes Victoria’s exit strategy from stage four COVID-19 restrictions should be measured in terms of milestones, not time frames – and the key benchmark is the elimination of community spread.
Professor Crabb told ABC Melbourne Radio Drive host Raf Epstein [LISTEN] that achieving targets rather than setting particular dates for the easing of restrictions would provide the clearest and most effective pathway to recovery.
“Obviously, stage four can’t go on forever and certainly can’t go much beyond mid-September, but what are those milestones?” Professor Crabb said.
“We have one big shot in Victoria and probably the only shot we’re going to have realistically to effectively eliminate community spread … is in the next two weeks.
“Maybe it needs an extra one after that, but that’s the sort of time frame that could be considered.
“I think it would be a real mistake to not aim for the effective elimination of community spread … and I do think many of us would be willing to go the extra little mile if there was that big prize at the end.”
Professor Crabb said a second milestone would be demonstrable improvements in the state’s capacity to test, trace and isolate, and for the State Government to clearly communicate how that’s been achieved.
A third milestone, he said, would be to focus on the benefits of masks as an ongoing measure to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“Masks are our vaccine of the moment, and possibly the only one we have for the next year or so,” Professor Crabb said.
“We need a strategy. Do something radical. Offer every Victorian a high-quality surgical mask, you know, once, twice, three times a week. Do something that is really bold … and provide incentives for wearing them correctly, whatever it might be.
“You can’t throw too much at this. This is an intervention that works. It doesn’t mean society stops functioning in any way, shape or form that’s meaningful. Let’s make it work as effectively as we can.”
Click here to listen to the interview, and find out more about Burnet’s coronavirus research via the KnowC-19 Hub.