The “endgame” of Victoria with COVID-19 no longer requires removal and compulsory mask wearing is likely to remain a permanent part of everyday life for years before a vaccine for the killer virus is identified.
In disturbing new facts to the state’s inquiry into the second wave coronavirus outbreak in Victoria, Premier Dan Andrews has cautioned that it is a characteristic of outbreaks around the world that the second infection process is sometimes more lethal than the first one.
When asked what the “endgame” of drastic restrictions was, the chief health officer of the state, Brett Sutton, also indicated that it was containment rather than removal and that it may be a war that lasts years.
He also revealed that public mask-wearing would have to remain as a “baseline” restriction for a long time.
“There may be a path that has very, very low case numbers with a kind of baseline level restrictions, universal mark wearing, changed human behaviours very broadly applied across the population that can keep numbers low,” Professor Sutton said.
“But I think it always comes with the danger that it can re-emerge and take off again.”
Professor Sutton admitted masks were flawed, but it was a case of doing whatever they could do to bring down cases despite the extent of group transmission.
“Although imperfect, cloth masks worn broadly in the community can have a significant effect,’’ he said.
“Although it doesn’t present as a game-changer, we were really looking to have whatever interventions that we possibly could in Victoria, especially ones that were relatively low cost and low impost, compared to taking more significant measures.”
“The endpoint is to lower numbers and get numbers as low as possible so that we can have confidence that we can manage the inevitable outbreaks that will occur, and the inevitable transmission that we will see,’’ Mr Andrews said.
“It’ll only have the maximum chance of working in six weeks if everybody plays their part,” he said.
“That’s why we’re so grateful the vast majority of people are. Your point about increased compliance, to more people at home, more people doing the right thing, so less people doing the wrong thing, that’s my sense of it.”