Victoria goes for virus elimination

For political reasons, I think no-one will be using the words, but Victoria has opted for virus elimination rather than suppression, slamming the state shut for six weeks. Premier Dan Andrews says the current setting are not working, they might work if they were continued for six months, but they might not.

Victoria has declared a State of disaster, which allows greater police powers, about which more tomorrow, which will last for the next six weeks.

From Alicia Nally at the ABC:

Victorians will no longer be able to leave home and go any further than a 5 kilometre radius

And the Victorian Premier adds: “You will not be able to at any point [go] more than 5km from your home for the purposes of shopping for what you need.”

So, that means:

  • Only one person will be able to go shopping, once per day
  • Recreational acivity is no longer allowed
  • Victorians will have one hour of exercise, no further from their homes

And there will no longer be able to be groups any bigger than two “regardless of whether they’re from your family or someone else”

However, the Premier says there will be exemptions for children who are being cared for and who can’t be left at home.

“Ultimately, all of these changes are about limiting movement,” he said.

“All of those changes are about limiting the number of people we come into contact with. Daily exercise is just that. It’s an opportunity to get some exercise. It’s not an opportunity to live our lives as if this pandemic was not real and not here.”

More restrictions on workplaces will be announced tomorrow.

‘State of disaster’ declared from 6:00pm tonight

Police will have extra powers.

This will be in addition to the state of emergency already in effect.

“The current rules have avoided thousands and thousands of cases each day and then thousands of people in hospital and many more tragedies than we have seen.

“But it is not working fast enough.

“And there’s a number of different reasons for that.

“But after a lot of hard work and detailed analysis, our public health experts, as well as them speaking with their federal counterparts and I’m sure interstate colleagues as well, they have provided advice to me that says if we were to pursue this strategy with a view to driving down numbers to a very low containable level where we could reopen, it would likely be the end of the year before we were able to reopen.

“That’s a 6-month strategy that is simply not going to work. Therefore we have to do more and do more right now.”

What prompted this can be brought down to three main factors.

First, yesterday there were 671 cases following 397 the day before, to give the second highest number after a record four days ago. The graph was simply not turning down.

Secondly, there were too many mystery cases coming up, and the contact tracing system was simply being overwhelmed.

Third, too many people were wilfully breaking the rules.

There are issues how the state got into this state, including Federal government lack of strategy to deal with a foreseeable tragedy in aged care, but more of that another day.

Andrews has been talking to his federal mate about pandemic leave and extra impact on the Victorian economy.

People working sick is not always at the initiative of the worker. Some employers are telling people to show up, or else, which can mean losing their job.

16 thoughts on “Victoria goes for virus elimination”

  1. Premier Andrews told the press conference that if the State had continued with ‘Level 3 restrictions’ in Melb for six months, with cases at 500 – 700 daily, the Vic hospital system would eventually not cope.

    Stark choices.

    Regional Vic moves up to Stage 3.

    Curfew begins tonight in Melb.
    Home brewed coffee is fine, BilB.
    Don’t you worry about that.

    Masks? Shops are running out of elastic and material; sewing machines sold out a few days ago.

    “Thoughts and Prayers” will still be available.

  2. Didn’t hear Premier Dan tender his apologies to the rest of the wide brown land.

    On behalf of all Victorians, may I say that we have noted the comments on social muddier, and we apologise, if anything we have said or done has infected someone.

  3. Brian: I can understand why Andrews is doing what he is doing and also understand he is doing it because he believes what he is doing is in the best interests of Victorians. I also believe that the strategies being used in Vic will all help fight the virus.
    However, I have problems with the narrowness of the overall strategy, the brute force pushing of people around and many strategies that are particularly financially damaging to those at the bottom of the pile (with the associated risk of encouraging non-compliance.)
    There is a strong case for running more strategies in parallel. Think about it. For example, if you combine two strategies that each individually reduce the risk of an infected person infecting people by 50% the combined reduction will be 75%! (The peak “N” in march had the direct passing on of infection at 1.28. It would have required an extra strategy with an efficiency of only 22% to have brought this below 1.0 – The figures I have seen quoted re mask effectiveness ranges from 50% to 80% yet our politicians, like Trump, have resisted widespread use of masks as though it was a political plague.)
    Parallel strategies that may make a difference without dramatic economic and social damage include:
    Public temperature testing (Used by Taiwan)
    Frequent public disinfectant spraying of hands. (Used by Taiwan.)
    Frequent phone checks on isolated people. (Used by Taiwan.)
    Faster test sample testing with maybe the use of pool testing to allow more samples to be processed. (Used by China but some argument about this approach.)
    Use sniffer dogs. Claimed to be 94% effective but I don’t know how long training takes.
    Use ONE WAY aisles in supermarket etc. AND ban passing. Hard to maintain safe distancing when people are passing in aisles.
    Insist that super market users use trolleys. (They are long enough to keep people safely apart.)
    Hold you breath when passing.
    One way paths.
    Be conscious which way air is moving. Risk is minimized when airflow is not blowing from one person to another.
    Reduce air re circulation in buildings.
    Always carry a face mask in case it is needed.
    Treat air in buildings to kill contained virus. (Ultra violet light in ducting?)
    Check airflow direction when setting up tables and chairs in restaurants etc. (If wind is coming from the north people along a E to W line could sit closer than 1.5 m.)
    Carry a small pad that has been sprayed with disinfectant in a ziploc bag and use pad when using lift buttons, door handles etc that lots of people touch.
    Safe used mask handling procedures. (Masks concentrate the virus.)
    I could rabbit on for yonks.

  4. John, you already have……

    But all of your suggestions are worthwhile and many are simple and inexpensive.

    However, you differ from most of your fellow Australians in that you have an educated and also intuitive understanding of relevant physical processes: air flow, fluid flow, porous materials, UV, etc. I could rabbit on for yonks about your knowledge base, and your skill in applying your knowledge with practical wisdom to this predicament.

    Well done, sir.

  5. Andrews has panicked a bit with this one, but he is being blamed for one of the OECD’s worst nursing home sectors, when the Victorian govt run homes are actually very good, and the Federal government’s sh*t industrial relations laws, which allow companies to treat workers as just another expendable resource.

    Bed time now. All good ideas, but my bet is that we couldn’t find enough trainable dogs or the trainers to train them, and it would take too long.

  6. Brian: “my bet is that we couldn’t find enough trainable dogs or the trainers to train them, and it would take too long.” We should start training dogs now. Sniffer dogs give instantaneous test results and would make a significant difference right now.
    There is no guarantee that the virus will be under control in the short term and, as has been shown in Vic, it is very easy to get out of control again and pollies seem reluctant to admit that what they are doing right now may not work.
    Ambi: Thanks for the nice words but I am not the only one who recognizes the need to do a lot of things in parallel. (I picked up that this was what Taiwan was doing months ago.) For example, “WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns there may never be a ‘silver bullet’ for COVID-19″ What he said included ” “The message to people and governments is clear: ‘Do it all’,” Dr Tedros told a virtual news briefing from the UN body’s headquarters in Geneva.
    He said face masks should become a symbol of solidarity around the world.”
    My frustration is that some of our leaders seem to be incapable of thinking beyond a few rather destructive strategies and seem to be incapable of looking (or getting someone to look) at what the best performing countries like Vietnam and Taiwan are doing. (OK they are Asian but….)
    Completely pissed off yours.

  7. There’s a leader overseas who thinks the Australian record (so far) is useful as a guide:

    Donald Trump has vowed to oppose growing pressure to lockdown the US economy again to combat the surging coronavirus, saying such a move would cause more harm than good.

    The president cited Australia among many other countries that he said had implemented a lockdown only to suffer a renewed flare-up of the virus.

    His comments came in response to growing calls from health experts for the US to slow or reverse the country’s reopening to try to contain a virus that Mr Trump’s own health adviser Deborah Birx this week described as “extraordinarily widespread”.

    – from a US correspondent, in “The Australian” 4th August

    (I use the term ‘leader’ with reluctance…..)

  8. Brian: “my bet is that we couldn’t find enough trainable dogs or the trainers to train them, and it would take too long.”
    At the moment: “From sniffer dogs to sewage testing, scientists are finding new ways to detect COVID-19” “Right now if we want to know how many people have COVID-19, we have one primary tactic: individual testing.

    It’s resource-intensive, inconvenient — and hamstrung by the notion that everyone will have symptoms and act on them.

    So with the World Health Organisation warning there may never be a “silver bullet” for COVID-19, scientists are investigating more creative tactics to keep tabs on the virus.
    Enter dogs, drones and sewage testing.
    Let’s take a look at how Australian researchers are exploring these less traditional tracing systems and how close we are to implementing them.
    We are going to struggle while we depend on a testing system that takes days to get a result and depends on on enough people being able to handle the economic cost of being locked up while waiting for a test result. Dogs are instantaneous.

  9. Elimination is a bullshit goal at the moment. We can think we have eliminated it but all it takes is a bored security guard having a nooky and Victoria happens. We need to work on the assumption that things could flare up again.

  10. Transparency Bulletin, 5th August, Melbourne

    The inquiry into Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine program that could have led to “every case” of coronavirus in the state’s second wave will not release its findings until November.

    Nine newspapers online: front page

  11. Ambi: “Premier Andrews told the press conference that if the State had continued with ‘Level 3 restrictions’ in Melb for six months, with cases at 500 – 700 daily, the Vic hospital system would eventually not cope.” This may be true if Vic had stuck to Andrew’s very narrow set of strategies being used in his version of stage 3.
    However, my take is that he may have been in a much better place than he is now if he had run more strategies in parallel as soon as the second wave started or, better still kept on with the low damage strategies while winding back when we thought that it was problem solved.
    Cracked record but, at the very least, Vic and the rest of Aus should have been doing all the things that success stories like Taiwan and Vietnam were doing unless there was a very clear reason why not. As part of this Morrison and the premiers should have set up task forces to investigate and implement options as well as what was going on covid-19 science and management.
    Strong leaders like Andrews have advantages when hard, unpopular strategies have to be implemented. But they can be a problem when they insist on being in control of everything.

  12. We’ve been told that 140 of the most recent new cases were medical staff. About a third of all cases.

    Some of these would be part-time workers, and English not their first language.

    There have been complaints about not enough PPE, but Andrews says his advice is that it’s all OK.

    On Insiders this morning there was talk that Andrews could not ultimately avoid explaining what happened in quarantine, even that he must walk and chew gum at the same time.

    This is offensive coming from journos who have never organised anything more complicated than a booze-up in a brewery.

    I’m OK with Andrews answer that he has set up an inquiry, and when the findings are out, he’ll take responsibility.

    He’s got other stuff to do right now.

    Insiders also told us that using hotels for quarantine was Andrews idea, helping the Feds out with their border responsibilities. WA used contractors, and it went OK.

    Other than that Peter van Onselen was talked over by David Speers, didn’t like it and let him know.

    About time.

  13. Just in from Victoria (named after a Queen, rather than the word “Victory”):

    ‘Patient Zero’ in Victoria’s calamitous second wave was a night manager at Rydge’s Hotel.

    Not a security guard.
    Not a badly behaved security guard.
    Earlier reports indicating security guard malfeasance were mistaken.
    But some guards helped to spread the little blighter viri.
    {plural of virus? Latin check required.}

    – from Nine Newspapers (“The Age”, “Sydney Morning Heraldic Devices”)

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