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‘Heading for single digits’: Epidemiologist on Vic virus cases

An Australian epidemiologist predicts Victoria will record single digit COVID-19 case totals by next weekend.The state dropped to double digits last Monday when 116 new coronavirus cases announced but 17 of those were “reclassified largely due to duplication”, making the overall total increase 99, the Department of Health and Human Services said.Professor Adrian Esterman, an…

An Australian epidemiologist predicts Victoria will record single digit COVID-19 case totals by next weekend.

The state dropped to double digits last Monday when 116 new coronavirus cases announced but 17 of those were “reclassified largely due to duplication”, making the overall total increase 99, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

Professor Adrian Esterman, an epidemiologist and biostatistician from the University of South Australia, said the figure aligned “beautifully” with his trend line and predicted “100 cases or less” by the weekend.

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There were 94 new cases announced on Saturday, 114 on Sunday and 73 today.

In an update on Twitter on Monday, Prof Esterman said the case total again fitted “exactly onto my predicted trend line”.

“We are still heading for single digits by next weekend if this keeps up,” he said.

Prof Esterman added: “If the trend continues, we will be down to single digits fairly soon.”

He said Victoria is at “the funny end of the curve” where case totals could plummet or “keep grumbling along snakelike, as it is in NSW”.

“I am hoping to see much better numbers by the weekend coming (September 5 and 6), but I am not so confident I would put a bet on it!”

There were between three and 13 new coronavirus cases recorded in New South Wales over the past seven days.

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Earlier on Monday, Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton the 73-strong case total was on track with the government’s modelling and daily cases could drop to as low as 40 in the coming days.

“I would hope we are in the ballpark at 40 or 50 by the end of the week,” he said.

“We will see if that is the case.

“Again, there is a great deal of uncertainty around the tail of any epidemic. We are in a way that is more complex than the first one we tackled – that was international travellers and their close contacts by and large with a little bit of community transmission.

“We have had substantial community transmission, but as we get down to the 60, 70 numbers, we know that the number of mystery cases, community transition cases where we don’t know where they have acquired, it is getting to single figures.

“It gives us a little bit more confidence that we can get on top of it, and with smaller numbers, we have greater and greater clarity around whether transmission is occurring.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday said he will be announcing his “road map to ease the restrictions that we’ve all been living under” on Sunday, September 6.

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Metropolitan Melbourne residents have been locked down under stage four measures since August 2 including an 8pm until 5am curfew and not travelling more than five kilometres from home for essential shopping or one hour of daily exercise.

“Another week’s data is critically important to make sure that the strategy continues to work and for us to have a better sense of how long it’s going to take to drive these numbers down to very, very low numbers so they can be contained and controlled without the need to put restrictions back on over not just weeks and months, but over a longer period,” Mr Andrews said.

“Finding that COVID normal and locking it in for many months. That’s the aim, that’s what the strategy is working toward.”

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