Publications & Reports

The impact of three progressively introduced interventions on second wave daily COVID-19 case numbers in Melbourne, Australia.

Saul A, Scott N, Spelman T, Crabb BS, Hellard M


Background: The city of Melbourne, Australia experienced two waves of the COVID-19 epidemic peaking, the first in March and a more substantial wave in July 2020. During the second wave, a series of control measure were progressively introduced that initially slowed the growth of the epidemic then resulted in decreasing cases until there was no detectable local transmission.

Methods: To determine the relative efficacy of the progressively introduced intervention measures, we modelled the second wave as a series of exponential growth and decay curves. We used a linear regression of the log of daily cases vs time, using a four-segment linear spline model corresponding to implementation of the three successive major public health measures. The primary model used all reported cases between 14 June and 15 September 2020 then compared the projection of the model with observed cases predicting future case trajectory up until the 31 October 2020 to assess the use of exponential models in projecting the future course and planning future interventions. The main outcome measures were the exponential daily growth constants, analysis of residuals and estimates of the 95% confidence intervals for the expected case distributions, comparison of predicted daily cases.

Results: The exponential growth/decay constants in the primary analysis were: 0.122 (s.e. 0.004), 0.035 (s.e. 0.005), - 0.037 (s.e. 0.011), and - 0.069 (s.e. 0.003) for the initial growth rate, Stage 3, Stage 3 + compulsory masks and Stage 4, respectively. Extrapolation of the regression model from the 14 September to the 31 October matched the decline in observed cases over this period.

Conclusions: The four-segment exponential model provided an excellent fit of the observed reported case data and predicted the day-to-day range of expected cases. The extrapolated regression accurately predicted the decline leading to epidemic control in Melbourne.

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