As locked-down Victoria recorded five fresh COVID cases, Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack is sticking to Scott Morrison’s line that it is “not a race” to get people vaccinated.
While the five new infections announced on Sunday morning are not good news, things could be much worse, experts say.
As epidemiologists have explained, as long as the new cases remain linked, small increases in locally acquired cases will not necessarily be cause for major alarm.
Brigid Lynch, the president of the Australasian Epidemiological Association, sees the daily trickle of new cases as “actually really reassuring”.
But she said it was likely the infections tally would increase in the days ahead.
“There is certainly scope for cases to rise,” Dr Lynch told the ABC.
“But the number of cases isn’t really the thing that’s most concerning.
“Even if there were 30 cases tomorrow, if those people were all already identified and isolating at home, then that’s not as worrying as finding a couple of cases that are out and about in the community.”
Mr McCormack, who is filling in while Mr Morrison visits New Zealand for talks with PM Jacinda Ardern, also does not believe there is hesitancy in getting the COVID-19 jab, with 120,000 people across the nation vaccinated on Saturday and a similar number the day before.
“It is not a race, it has to be systematic,” Mr McCormack told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.
“It has to be rolled out in a way that Australians obviously need to know that they have to get the jab but we can’t have everybody going and getting it at the same time.”
Reported yesterday: 5 new local cases and 1 new case acquired overseas (currently in HQ).
– 17,702 vaccine doses were administered
– 45,301 test results were received
More later: https://t.co/lIUrl0ZEco#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/oY3nril3sL
— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) May 29, 2021
Victoria’s Acting Victorian Premier, James Merlino, is among many pointing the finger at the federal government, saying a successful vaccine rollout and fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities may have changed Victoria’s fate.
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese condemned the government’s defence of hotel quarantine.
“Scott Morrison speaks about the success rate. What he doesn’t say is that with every failure, there are very serious consequences – for health, for our economy and for people being able to go about their lives,” he said.
Closing in on virus source
With the JobKeeper package now gone, Mr Albanese said the government must introduce financial support for Victorians in lockdown.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley on Saturday refused to speculate whether the lockdown – which is forecast to cost the state $1 billion – would be extended but said authorities are “getting close on the heels” of the outbreak.
As Victorians re-adjust to their lockdown restrictions, Mr McCormack said the federal government was working closely with the state to make sure it only lasts seven days.
“If the Victorians do the right thing and the contract tracking and tracing occurs as it needs to, hopefully by Thursday the restrictions will be lifted,” he said.
“It’s entirely up to the Victorian state government and their public health authorities. But we don’t want to see closed borders.”
Five new COVID-19 cases were reported in the state on Saturday, taking the outbreak – sparked by a hotel quarantine breach in South Australia – to 35 cases.