Victorians have been warned there will “almost certainly” be more lockdowns in the state, following the announcement that stay-at-home orders will be in place for more than 30 suburbs from Wednesday night.
Epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne, Tony Blakely, told ABC’s 7.30 that it is highly likely there will be a rise in COVID-19 cases outside Victoria’s hotspot areas.
“If you look where the cases are now they’re popping up in other places. For example, there were cases today in a menswear store in the CBD,” Professor Blakely told the program.
He claimed the state would “almost certainly” see more areas exceed the threshold of cases that would spark a lockdown.
“I know we’ll see more postcodes tip over and hopefully we’ll get on top of it and this outbreak will be over,” Professor Blakely said.
The decision to lockdown Melbourne hot spots came after the state recorded 64 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
However not everyone agrees that locking down particular suburbs is the answer to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, who works in a clinic in Altona North, Melbourne, told 7.30 the virus won’t just stick to particular suburbs, it can spread everywhere.
“I’m not sure locking down a suburb or within a local government area is the right thing to do,” he said.
“Why? The virus doesn’t know where to stop. It’s everywhere. We’re all liable and vulnerable. We are all at risk. We’ve all got to do the right thing. We did it very early on in the piece. We’ve got to keep doing it.”
Earlier today Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said there was a three-step process to determine if an area may need to be placed into lockdown.
“The first step is to identify priority local government areas with more than twice the state case rate,” he said.
“Secondly, to review all the postcodes within that local government area and thirdly, to identify priority suburbs with more than five cases and a rate greater than 20 per 100,000.
From 11.59pm on Wednesday 36 suburbs in 10 postcodes across Melbourne will be placed on strict stay-at-home orders.
These suburbs include, Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray, Alban Vale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans, Ascot Vale, High Point City, Maribyrnong, Travancore, Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lakes, Watergardens, Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie, Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park, Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana, Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West, Fawkner, Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickleham, Roxburgh Park and Kalkallo.
Residents in these areas will only be allowed to leave their homes for four reasons, including for work or school, for care or care giving, for daily exercise, or for food and other essentials.
People caught breaking the new restrictions without a reasonable excuse can expect hefty on-the-spot fines.
Mr Andrews said this decision was made because of the “unacceptably high rates of community transmission and the unacceptably high rates of new cases”.
“We are all in this together and this is going to be deeply disruptive for those 10 postcodes,” he said.
“It will be deeply painful and damaging for those businesses involved. This is the public health advice. This is what we must do now. If we do not do this now then I won’t be locking down 10 postcodes, I will be locking down all postcodes.”
The Premier said he “won’t rule out” the possibility of more suburbs being placed in lockdown if new virus cases increase in other areas.
“I would just say I wouldn’t want a situation where people were unduly alarmed if they happened to live in a postcode where tomorrow morning we report there is one new case,” Mr Andrews said.
“But it can only take one sometimes and you finish up with outbreaks, particularly if people go to large family gatherings when they are unwell, particularly if people through a sense of frustration make the Judgement that they want to it be over and therefore they will act as if it is.”