Experts call for stage four lockdown


The president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association has called on the State Government to move to stage-four lockdown restrictions.

The push for tougher measures comes after Victoria recorded its worst increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 532 infections and six deaths.

Associate Professor Julian Rait said the surge in cases meant there were going to be "many more deaths" to come.

"We saw a few weeks ago on July 17 after we had about 10 days or so of lockdown measures that the epidemic curve really wasn't flattening as it should," Prof Rait told 3AW's Tom Elliott.

"We felt at that stage we would obviously need to extend the lockdown we also made the point that a firmer lockdown might be more efficacious but might also provide a shorter way out of this."

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Experts are doubtful the state has reached its coronavirus peak and are calling for more action. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
Experts are doubtful the state has reached its coronavirus peak and are calling for more action. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images


Prof Rait said a New Zealand-style lockdown would be the best way for Victoria to get case numbers down quickly.

"What New Zealand did for a month is that they closed pretty much all businesses other than pharmacies, medical clinics, grocery stores, petrol stations and really curtailed a lot of retail shopping and a lot of businesses," he said.

"That's the model that I would look to and clearly they were able to achieve elimination through that with a month of such measures.

"I am not suggesting that is necessarily possible now in Victoria with the number of cases but I would suggest that stronger measures for a shorter period might be a preferable strategy to months and months of what we have got at the moment."

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The AMA Victoria president said he didn't "underestimate" the economic cost of such measures but that the health system and wider community needed to be better protected.

He said he was "very concerned" about Monday's case numbers and pointed out the alarming rise the state has seen in the last few weeks.

"On July 3 we had 66 cases, July 10 we had 288, July 17 we had 428, July 26 we had 459 and today we have 532," he told the radio show.

"The seven day moving average appears to be rising, although perhaps not as quickly as it did at first.

"If that trend continues I think we have a significant problem and that's why I think we need to consider other options given that so far we are not quite seeing the response we expected."

Prof Rait said there are "possibly 2500 cases in the pipeline" and that around 20 per cent of those cases would need hospitalisation and then maybe 100 of those would need intensive care.



Speaking on the Today show this morning, leading infectious disease expert Professor Nigel McMillan echoed the call for stage-four lockdown. Despite the state's chief health officer Brad Sutton yesterday said the state was likely at its peak when it came to infections, but Prof McMillan said he doesn't believe the state was anywhere near.

"When you actually look at the data, while the peak is determined, I guess by the R number, which is the replication figure the Health Minister was talking about yesterday, if you look at the raw numbers, those numbers are going up and up," Prof McMillan said.

"You're on week three of the lockdown in Victoria and we would expect to have seen changes, more significant changes, by now.

"I would love for that peak to drop down, I would love Victoria to drop down, I would love Victoria to get back to zero cases. It would be fantastic. But whatever they're doing right now is not working."

He said Victoria could see 200-400 new cases each day until the end of the year if the state doesn't change its approach.

"I am calling for stage four, which is essentially a strict stay- at-home order and the closure of all businesses except what is essential businesses and education facilities," he said.

"This is what New Zealand did. We know it works. Of course, we all want to get to that suppression near to zero which is what the other states have achieved."


Originally published as Experts call for stage four lockdown