'Take note NSW': Nation's daunting Covid surge delivers a stark warning

·Associate News Editor
·4-min read

"Take note, NSW, before it’s too late."

That's the daunting warning from one epidemiologist in Australia as the highly-infectious Delta variant obliterates one nation's near-perfect track record of dealing with Covid-19.

Vietnam has seen an alarming surge in infections in recent weeks as the Delta variant rips through its population.

University of Western Australia epidemiologist Dr Zoe Hyde says the nation had successfully managed to suppress the virus on three occasions during the pandemic but was struggling to handle the highly-infectious strain now plaguing many countries around the globe, including Australia.

"Vietnam has had one of the best responses to COVID-19 in the world. But what worked before is not working against the Delta variant," she warned on Twitter late on Monday.

Vietnam Covid cases surge despite lockdowns

On Monday, Vietnam reported 1,102 Covid-19 infections – a record daily increase.

And Dr Hyde believes their recent spike, which has failed to plateau, is a cautionary tale for NSW.

She says health authorities need to focus on preventing and educating the public on airborne transmission, as infection through 'fleeting contact' now a devastating threat that comes with the Delta variant.

Dr Norman Swan, the ABC's medical expert and face of their Covid-19 coverage, warned face masks were vital for NSW to suppress its surge in infections.

While face masks are not mandated in outdoor public settings, he advised doing so would prove beneficial.

"If we don't wear face mask, it will get out of control. And unvaccinated people will be very vulnerable - even if they're young - to hospitalisation and serious illness," he told ABC News Breakfast on Tuesday.

Vietnam's alarming surge is centred around Ho Chi Minh city which has been under strict lockdown for more than a month, yet has had little effect on climbing case totals.

Vietnam is fighting an alarming surge in cases of the Delta variant. Source: Getty
Vietnam is fighting an alarming surge in cases of the Delta variant. Source: Getty

NSW could be facing restrictions for prolonged period

Infectious disease doctor Barney Flower, who is part of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, says hundreds of deaths have been avoided due to swift implementation of restrictions and tracing. However other Delta-riddled nations have not been so lucky as their death tolls surge.

Like Australia, Vietnam's vaccine rollout leaves a lot to be desired and with early research emerging from Israel indicating the Pfizer vaccine is less effective against the Delta variant, there is a heightened importance on other preventative measures.

"To avoid thousands of COVID deaths, we will have to live with some level of restriction for a long time," Dr Flower said as part of a Twitter thread on Vietnam's plight.

"It's as stark as that. Masks, temperature checks and health declarations are here to stay. Borders will stay shut for now."

Sydneysiders could be facing a prolonged period of restrictions, experts warn. Source: Getty
Sydneysiders could be facing a prolonged period of restrictions, experts warn. Source: Getty

Dr Swan echoed his sentiment on masks, suggesting they will be mandatory for a while yet.

NSW's lockdown is due to be eased on July 9 after two weeks, but 35 cases on Monday and a failure to reduce daily infections has put that end date at risk.

Epidemiologist Tony Blakely from the University of Melbourne, said it was too soon to be thinking of ending lockdown due to the infectiousness of the Delta variant.

"If we just open up restrictions at that point, they will just take off again … that's just how the virus behaves," he told the ABC.

"If I was in [Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant's] shoes at the moment, I'd be getting a little bit worried that that numbers were not coming down."

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