News Stage 5 ahead? What Melbourne could face if COVID cases don’t decline

Stage 5 ahead? What Melbourne could face if COVID cases don’t decline

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Melbourne residents are currently living under some of the toughest restrictions in the world, but there is scope for them to tighten further.

After Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews touched on the idea of Stage 5 on Monday, many wondered what that would look like.

No takeaway or delivery services, romantic partners who live apart to be kept apart, and limiting travel to just 1 km have been some of the restrictions that have been enforced across the rest of the world.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton. Photo: ABC News

“It’s hard to imagine what a stage five might look like, but it would radically change the way people live,” Mr Andrews said.

When asked about it, Mr Andrews was adamant the current restrictions would drive down our case numbers.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said the focus is on Stage 4, its success is heavily dependent on everyone playing by the rules.

“We know it can work. But it does require — and this is what we’re talking about (with) a stage 5 is — everyone’s co-operation,” he said.

“The alternative is inconceivable. We need everyone to do what’s required now in order to get to where we want.”

Stage 5

Strict lockdowns around the world have all looked different.

In Italy, the first European country to be devastated by the virus, all shops, restaurants, cinemas and gyms were closed.

In the country’s worst region, Lombardy, outdoor exercise was banned and temperature checks were mandatory at supermarkets.

In Wuhan, millions of people were confined to their homes for 80 days,  only allowed to leave for medical care or food.

Transport in and out of the central Chinese city was completely cut.

Across the ditch, New Zealanders stopped takeaway food and implemented a month-long ‘bonk ban’ where even intimate partners were stopped from visiting each other.

Deakin University’s chair of epidemiology, Catherine Bennett, said a Stage 5 lockdown would have to be targeted, instead of wider restrictions.

“You can’t go harder now without being highly targeted,” she told The New Daily. 

“New Zealand had a different shutdown, they shut down more industry,. China welded people into their houses – and I think that’s what they would be talking about. You wouldn’t go to the grocery store.

“But we don’t know if community transmission can survive in the current circumstances, and if it did you would have to go in and find out how that was happening.

“To go to a blanket shutdown would be, the word that comes to mind is, ‘crazy’. It would be high risk.”

Although Victoria’s numbers remained high, there were small signs they would start to drop off soon, she said.

“There’s this sense of the stubborn numbers. But in fact, it’s looking encouraging, not only are the numbers holding, which is what we’re seeing and reporting but we’re not seeing new outbreaks starting.”

Stage 5 would need to be targeted, experts say. Photo: AAP

“We’re in a much better position if we’re closing outbreaks faster. We don’t have people mingling in the community, all of that, then that helps us shut down existing outbreaks.

“We’ve suppressed community transmission, we’ll see it in the cases soon. It does kill the virus off.”

Marylouise McLaws, an infectious diseases expert at the University of New South Wales, said the reference to Stage 5 shows how much the community needed to do the right thing in Stage 4.

“I think the authorities are desperate for the cooperation of every single Victorian,” she said.

“I think the numbers are showing a very stubborn community spread, but it is not going up. It’s stubborn but stable, and I think the authorities are really wanting the community to fully cooperate.

“Each person can make a catastrophe. If you have an inkling of exposure, go get tested, and keep your mask on. That single action can make all the difference in the world.”