Bleak Christmas warning as state set to exit Covid lockdown early

·3-min read

Updated modelling from the Burnet Institute shows Victoria will likely see a second major peak of Delta coronavirus cases as the state ditches lockdowns earlier than planned this week.

On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews announced Melbourne's sixth lockdown would end at 11.59pm on Thursday, when the state hits the 70 per cent fully vaccinated mark.

Victoria recorded 1,838 locally-acquired Covid cases on Sunday and while the daily numbers remain higher than the premier would like, he said the acuity of illness is less than was anticipated.

Melbourne will come out of lockdown on Thursday, days earlier than expected. Source:AFP via Getty Images
Melbourne will come out of lockdown on Thursday, days earlier than expected. Source:AFP via Getty Images

"The modelling shows Victoria’s pace and high levels of vaccination has almost-halved the projected number of people expected to die from Covid-19 before the end of the year," the Burnet Institute said.

"The modelling projects 1,212 deaths between July and December 2021 – down from the 2,202 projected on September 18. "

While modelling is always fallible, a merely offers a guide to the future, the data also shows the chances of the state's hospital system being overwhelmed dropped from 63 per cent to just 23 per cent.

Not only have hospitalisation rates in Victoria been lower than expected, the length of stay has also been less, the Burnet Institute said.

However the Christmas period when many Australians travel will be a challenging one for the state – and the country – which has doggedly pursued a Covid-zero strategy. 

Second Delta peak could see daily cases at around 4000

Taking into account the fact that Melbourne will emerge from lockdown, the updated modelling shows cases could be expected to plateau after the first peak of the current outbreak towards the end of October.

However cases will start to steadily climb and peak again around mid-December.

The modelling suggests the daily cases in Victoria could peak at just under 4,000 before dropping off again as we enter the new year.

Daily Covid cases could peak again in Victoria around mid-December. Source: Burnet Institute
Daily Covid cases could peak again in Victoria around mid-December. Source: Burnet Institute

At the press conference on Sunday, Mr Andrews warned this would likely be the case.

"In the weeks and months ahead, we will see a peak in cases and we will see a peak in the number of people who are in hospital. And we will see people lose their lives to this. That will be a terrible tragedy.

"That will be incredibly difficult. For families, for loved ones, for staff in our health system. That is why getting vaccinated is so, so important," he said.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of our state, the resilience, the courage, the compassion and the conviction that Victorians have shown to get this job done."

The modelling's conclusion stated that opening with a 70 per cent double vaccination rate among only the eligible population "increases the peaks in diagnoses, hospital demand and ICU demand".

ICU demand is expected to stay at around 200 people for the remainder of the year the modelling shows. Source: Burnet Institute
ICU demand is expected to stay at around 200 people for the remainder of the year the modelling shows. Source: Burnet Institute

It noted peak demand for hospital and ICU beds may be required for longer.

The modelling suggests there could be around 200 people in the ICU for much of the remainder of this year and around 1,000 people in hospital with Covid-19.

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