With Victoria now locking down five million people after recording a staggering number of coronavirus cases this month, many are wondering – where did it all go wrong?
Other Australian states and territories are reporting very little, if not zero, new coronavirus cases, with community transmission basically at a standstill.
However Victoria’s cases have skyrocketed this month, with the state recording its highest daily totals twice this week alone.
As new cases started to emerge, 10 postcodes were put into lockdown, but now five million Victorians have entered stage three restrictions for six weeks, meaning they can only leave home for four reasons – for school and work, medical care, exercise and shopping for essentials.
On Thursday the state announced 165 new coronavirus cases, making it the fourth day in a row cases had been in the triple-digits.
On Wednesday, 134 new cases were confirmed, following a staggering rise of 191 cases announced on Tuesday. It was the third highest daily total in any state or territory since the pandemic began.
So why are outbreaks only erupting in Victoria and is anybody to blame?
Lack of social distancing
The Dean of the School of Health Sciences at Swinburne University, Professor Bruce Thompson, told Yahoo News Australia when restrictions were relaxed as cases in the state dwindled, people slowly began returning to normal life.
“Sections of the community thought, ‘She’ll be right, let’s get back to normal’,” he said.
Professor Thompson said just walking down the street and going to the supermarket it was evident some people were flouting social distancing rules.
There was also the issue of the protest in Melbourne, where people ignored social distancing to fight for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Last month three people who attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Melbourne tested positive for the coronavirus.
A man in his 30s and a young woman who attended the June 6 protest tested positive for the coronavirus, with the third protester having also worked two shifts at H&M while infectious.
While it is not believed the protesters contracted or spread the virus at the rally, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt claimed it led people to believe social distancing was no longer required.
“Once the protests occurred, there were some who saw what appeared to be an understandable view of a double standard, and changed their behaviours,” he told the Today show.
Families ‘pretending the pandemic is over’
Professor Thompson said what was happening in Victoria could have happened anywhere in the country, but there were clearly some behaviours that contributed to the spread of the virus.
More than half of the new cases since the end of April to the beginning of July came from family members spreading it to their relatives, prompting a stern talking to from Premier Daniel Andrews.
"It is unacceptable that families anywhere in our state can, just because they want this to be over, pretend that it is," Mr Andrews said last month.
"It is pretty clear that behind closed doors they are not practising social distancing."
Professor Thompson said some people were not taking the virus seriously, and had the general view of ‘it will never happen to me’.
“One person saying, ‘I’m 28 it doesn’t matter if I get it, I’ll be well’, but you chat to your grandparents and you could kill them,” he said.
“I don’t think people quite get that this is actually really serious. They must be watching what’s coming out of the UK and the US – New York has mass graves.
“This is a mild virus ultimately – it’s not like ebola which kills the host quicker than they’re able to pass it on, it’s not small pox where one host can affect 27 people – so there is a sort of perception of it can’t be that bad.”
People refusing coronavirus testing
Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said last week more than 10,000 people had “disappointingly” refused testing in the state.
“That might be for a range of reasons, including that they may have already been tested in a different location – we are analysing that data to see exactly why people are refusing – but it is concerning that some people believe that coronavirus is a conspiracy or that it won't impact on them,” she said.
“So what I want to stress here is that coronavirus is a very contagious virus.
“It can go through your family very quickly, it can affect your neighbours, your loved ones, and your entire community.
“So for those individuals in those communities who have not yet been tested, we are urging them to get tested as quickly as possible.”
Professor Thompson said he was unsympathetic to people who refused testing, and claimed it should be mandatory.
“What are you trying to hide?” he said.
“It’s absolutely totally and utterly unacceptable. We are in a state of emergency – the government has a lot more powers than it normally would – and in a global pandemic, and you’re a person of concern refusing to have a test?
“As far as I’m concerned they need to be mandatory.”
Professor Thompson said testing was crucial to track the spread of the coronavirus.
“We need to know whether you as an individual have the virus. If you do you’re at high risk of community spreading. If you don’t have it then there’s no risk and you can go about your normal duties. But if you do have the virus then there’s a significant risk of spreading it to someone else who is vulnerable.”
Professor Thompson said it was unacceptable for people not to get tested and go about their normal duties because they did not want to know the result.
“It’s too serious. You can’t jump on a plane and think, ‘I’ll be right’, and take a couple of Panadol. We’re now in a situation of a global pandemic,” he said.
Professor Thompson said the best thing people could do was continue to adhere to social distancing rules and get tested early if you have flu-like symptoms.
“And then start self-isolating. As a community we need to show some leadership with each other,” he said.
Explosive sex claims in quarantine hotel
Health Minister Greg Hunt urged authorities to throw the book at hotel quarantine rule-breakers after allegations security guards slept with guests.
Claims of widespread rorting and misconduct rocked the security firms responsible for patrolling Melbourne's hotel quarantine regime.
Companies charged taxpayers for shifts never worked, leading to less security workers on duty and higher risk of infections, The Herald Sun reported.
The publication also revealed sources informed them guards slept with guests while personnel had inadequate personal protective equipment and training.
"If those claims are correct then that is completely and utterly unacceptable," Mr Hunt told Sky News on Thursday.
The Victorian government has launched a judicial inquiry into hotel quarantine after Melbourne's infection spike was linked to guards sharing cigarette lighters.
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