Victorians might be alarmed to hear today that 317 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the last 24 hours.
It’s the single highest day-to-day increase for the state since the pandemic began.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos labelled it a “very concerning number” but a leading epidemiologist isn’t willing to go that far.
He says there was always going to be some fluctuation during Victoria’s second wave and that today’s numbers are not yet reflecting changes made during lockdown.
“I was expecting the Stage 3 restrictions to take one-to-two weeks to kick in, so I am not surprised or concerned at today’s number,” University of South Australia Professor Adrian Esterman told news.com.au.
“The absolute level of daily new cases is not so important, since random fluctuations occur from day to day. It is the pattern that is more important.”
Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire re-entered Stage 3 stay-at-home restrictions
on July 8 and those affected will be locked down for at least another five weeks.
That means they can’t leave home unless it’s for medical care, food, exercise or work/study that can’t be done from home.
After a week of case number hovering around the high 200s, Premier Daniel Andrews called today’s figure “relatively stable”.
“We’re seeing relative stability to these numbers,” he told reporters.
“We have made the point with these stay at home restrictions only a week old, it will take some time to bring stability to the numbers and start to see a pattern where they are driven down.
“One of the key challenges beyond the fact this is wildly infectious … the life cycle of this virus means that actions you take today, the impacts of which are not clear or well known or understood or reflected in data for at least a week.
“And to be safe, really, two weeks’ time. That’s why this is a six-week stay at home lockdown. That’s three full life cycles of this virus.”
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Victoria’s second wave “may still not have hit our peak”.
“It’s a big number. It needs to turn around. In some ways, I expected it to turn around this week. But as I always said, it’s no guarantee. It’s upon all of us to be able to turn this number around.”
Of Thursday’s 317 new cases, 289 were from an unknown source. There were 238 new cases in Victoria on Wednesday, including 209 where the source of the transmission could not be immediately identified.
The Premier today urged Victorians to continue to do the right thing.
“I thank every Victorian who is following the rules,” Mr Andrews said. “That’s the vast majority. We continue to see a smaller number of people making choices, not only are they wrong, they’re not particularly smart.”
He said it was still too early to look at Stage 4 restrictions.
“Now, I know there’s been a lot of discussion, a lot written and said about possible Stage 4, there are no announcements to be made about that today,” the Premier said.
“That shouldn’t be read to mean there will be announcements made tomorrow. We plan for every single contingency. It’s well too early for us to be moving to a whole new stage. This is in the hands of every single Victorian, though.
“If you want to make that less likely, you want to get out of these sort of restrictions as fast as possible, then we all have to play our part and not rely on our doctors and nurses as the last line of ultimate defence against this virus, but instead acknowledge we’re the ones on the frontline.
“Every individual, every family, every local community, the choices we all make absolutely determine how many people get this virus, how it spreads, and how long those restrictions will be in place for.”