Victoria’s Chief Health Officer says eliminating the coronavirus across Australia is possible if testing is ramped up to include everyone, regardless of symptoms.
Professor Brett Sutton told ABC Radio Melbourne on Tuesday seven more cases of coronavirus were confirmed overnight in the state, and that low numbers of new infections across the nation indicated Australia was on its way to zero cases.
“I think we’ve done enough to get to where we’re at. We’ve gone earlier than most countries with comparable rates anywhere in the world and I think that’s why we’re in the position we’re in,” Professor Sutton said.
He said in comparison to New Zealand “we’re very much on the same pathway”.
“Elimination is actually a viable option for us here in Australia so I wouldn’t rule it out in terms of being in as optimistic position as New Zealand.”
Vic COVID-19 snapshot:
- Confirmed cases so far: 1329
- Deaths: 15
- Suspected community transmissions: 136
- Cases in hospital: 28
- Intensive care patients: 11
- Recovered patients: 1196
- Tests carried out: More than 86,000
“I think there are lots of complexities with eliminations. It does mean having zero cases across the entire country. It would need a surveillance system which would mean no cases of transmission anywhere,” he said.
“That would mean lots of testing, lots of individuals coming forward potentially trying to work out if there’s asymptomatic transmission.”
Professor Sutton said environmental testing would also need to be done to figure out if the virus was present in sewage.
“That might be able to tell us if [the virus is still present] even if we haven’t detected cases or more optimistically if we can’t find it anywhere.”
He also said Victoria could see cases drop to zero by June as the majority of positive cases continued to be from people who had recently arrived from overseas.
“We don’t know how well people will manage this but if we can carry on with the behaviours that we’ve been doing in terms of the physical-distancing measures and staying at home, that’s entirely possible for us,” he said.