Worse-case scenario avoided

NEW modelling has shown Victoria has avoided up to 650 deaths a day during COVID-19’s peak by enforcing social distancing measures.

The modelling found if no restrictions were in place, Victoria would have seen up to 58,000 new coronavirus cases every day at the peak of the pandemic, completely overwhelming the health system.

The data also revealed that if a business-as-usual approach had been adopted, 10,000 intensive care beds would have been required and as many as 9200 Victorians would have been presenting to hospital every single day.

It also shows what could have been the immense human cost of the pandemic, with as many as 36,000 Victorians dying – averaging 70 lives lost per day and up to 650 deaths in a single day during the peak.

The modelling is a collaboration between Monash University, the Doherty Institute and epidemiology experts in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Also part of the modelling, Victoria’s ‘Reff’ number – the projected number of infections passed on by a person with coronavirus – has dropped to 0.5. If Reff is kept below one, an outbreak slowly wanes, but if it is above one, it grows.

Because of current restrictions and most people doing the right thing, the modelling confirms that the curve is flattening hin the state.

Victoria’s curve compares favourably with countries that acted early, like South Korea and New Zealand, avoiding the catastrophic outcomes seen in places like Europe and New York.

The modelling also shows that if restrictions were lifted too quickly or too broadly, coronavirus would spread rapidly through the community, overwhelming the health system and putting everything achieved at risk.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there was still a long way to go, and it was not time to get complacent.

“..if we stay the course and don’t get complacent, we will get through this together,” he said.

The Premier added pubs, restaurants, bars and caf├ęs will not re-open anytime soon, but measures surrounding ways people could socialise may soon be relaxed.

“The risk will be far greater than any reward,” Mr Andrews said.

“I think there are some areas where we might be able to make changes in around the way people interact, around some of the more social measures.

The Victorian government is urging people to continue to stay at home, protect the health system and save lives.

Any decision to ease restrictions after the current state of emergency will be informed by public health experts and modelling, combined with international experience.

Only one new case was confirmed on Sunday, taking the state’s total to 1329 at the time the Gippsland Times went to print.

Wellington Shire’s total remained steady on 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The COVID-19 death toll in Victoria stood at 15. There were 134 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission.

At the time of print, 28 people were in hospital, including 11 patients in intensive care, and 1188 people have recovered.

On Sunday, Victoria Police conducted 819 spot checks at homes, businesses and non-essential services across the state as part of Operation Sentinel and issued 91 fines – including to five people sitting in a vehicle drinking and 16 people gathered at a private residence for a party.

Police can issue on the spot fines, including up to $1652 for individuals and up to $9913 for businesses.