Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC and Professor Mike Toole AM are arguing strongly for Victoria to resist external pressure to announce a time-bound transition from stage four COVID-19 restrictions and focus instead on meeting a number of key criteria.
In an editorial published in The Age, the authors acknowledge the collateral damage caused by lockdowns, the difficulty of maintaining community support indefinitely, and the desire of Victorians to ‘see a road out of their current situation’.
But rather than working to a timetable for transition, Professors Crabb and Toole believe Victoria should aim to achieve milestones, including the elimination of community transmission; an enhanced strategy to test, trace and isolate; and innovations to facilitate the wearing of masks.
“These measures will allow us to live in a functioning society for at least the next 12 months, without a game-changing intervention like a vaccine, preventive therapy, or an effective treatment drug,” the authors write.
“It was a mistake when the state moved from stage three to stage two during the first wave of infections under pressure from the National Cabinet.
“Lifting the number of people allowed in a household from five to 20 overnight probably contributed to the rapid spread of the virus through north-western Melbourne in the early stages of the second wave.”
The authors highlight the need for watertight systems to prevent virus transmission in workplaces, including vulnerable settings such as meat processing plants, and policies to protect the elderly in residential aged care homes and to prevent spread to health care workers by improving infection control procedures.
“With these elements in place, together with the existing commitment to tightening and optimising testing, quarantine and isolation, and adherence to mask wearing, physical distancing and hand-washing guidelines, Victoria is in a strong position to move out of stage 4 either on September 13 or soon thereafter,” they write.
“The better the test, trace and isolate system and mask wearing, the fewer ongoing restrictions will be required.”
Click here to read The Age editorial in full.