More Victorians will die from the coronavirus even as daily cases begin to decline, say health experts.
But that doesn’t mean the restrictions are failing.
Their warning came as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a tragic new high on Wednesday, confirming 21 deaths.
The grim record for fatalities followed 12 deaths on Saturday, 17 deaths on Sunday, and 19 deaths on Monday and Tuesday.
As of Wednesday, Victoria’s virus toll stood at 267 – with more than 100 people losing their lives in the past week alone.
And sadly, more families are expected to be mourning the loss of a loved one in the weeks to come.
That’s according to Professor Ivo Mueller, an epidemiologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI).
“Even if the number of infections go down, the number of deaths are likely to continue rising for at least another two to three weeks,” he told The New Daily.
“That’s because people don’t die very quickly from the coronavirus.”
Professor Mueller said typically after people fall seriously ill with the coronavirus, their health deteriorates over a week or two until they are admitted to intensive care.
“We try our very best for people to recover, but it will take quite a while for people to lose that fight,” he said.
As hundreds of Victorian families know, the end of that fight is devastating.
For many of them, it will feel impossible to view the state’s lockdown with optimism.
But even though the daily death toll is likely to keep rising, it doesn’t mean the lockdown is a failure, Professor Mueller said.
Victorians must try to be patient.
“We know that there is generally a two-week lag between when case numbers go down, to when the numbers of deaths start dropping,” he said.
On Monday, federal deputy chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd told reporters he expected the number of new daily infections to decline in Victoria this week as Stage 4 restrictions kicked into gear.
After a peak of 725 new coronavirus cases on August 5, daily cases appear to have declined this week, dropping to a seven-day average of 395 on Wednesday, according to covid19data.com.au
But like Professor Mueller, Professor Kidd warned more deaths would come.
“There is a seven to 10-day lag between the daily reports of numbers of cases and people dying,” he said.
“Some people sadly die very early in the course of COVID-19, but for many people it is a week or more after they have been infected that we see people who are gravely unwell.”