Coronavirus modelling in Victoria reveals that easing restrictions too early will lead to a third wave of cases across the state, authorities have warned.
“You can’t argue with this sort of data. You can’t argue with science,” said premier Daniel Andrews as he unveiled the path forward for Victoria on Sunday, extending the state’s lockdown until September 28.
A staged easing of restrictions, with different timelines for metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, will continue monthly until late November.
Modelling suggests the state risks losing control if measures are relaxed too early, Mr Andrews said.
He pointed to a coronavirus case in the town of Colac, where one person infected 24 others in a matter of days, saying it spreads like wildfire.
“Until we put this out, until we contain this properly, we cannot open up,” Mr Andrews said.
“Because if we did that we would not be opening up at all, we would simply be beginning a third wave.
“One that will do even more damage than this pandemic has already done.
“I wants to get the place open and I want to keep it open and unless this is done safely and steadily that simply won’t happen.”
Mr Andrews said the consequences of the virus spreading were even greater than the difficulties currently endured by Victorians in lockdown.
But he said it was not a 50-50 choice to continue lockdowns, with a supercomputer being used to model more than 1000 different scenarios.
“We haven’t yet hit these targets, these very low numbers,” Mr Andrews said.
The daily coronavirus case average over the past 14 days sits at 100.
Mr Andrews said if the average drops to 25 , there was a 60 per cent chance the restrictions won’t work.
But if it drops to just five cases, the risk of having to go back into lockdown plummets to 3 per cent: “A 97% chance that this will work.”
From October 26, subject to health advice, and if the daily average of cases over the previous 14 days is less than five new cases, Melbourne’s new 9pm curfew will no longer apply.
“I want to thank every Victorian for the contribution they have made,” Mr Andrews said.
“If the sacrifice that every Victorian has made is to mean anything, is to count for something, then we have to open up in a safe and steady way.
“We can’t do any different. There is no other option.”