COVID-19 Cases Surge in Melbourne, Australia
Victoria welcomed this month by easing restrictions. Authorities allowed restaurants to serve 20 dine-in patrons at a time. Pubs and museums reopened. Gyms and cinemas were poised to resume operations next.
Less than a month later, the state is seeing an uptick in coronavirus infections. On Monday, 75 new cases showed up overnight.
In effect, a grim-faced Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews faced the press to announce that some restrictions might be put back in place to combat the spike in virus transmission.
Community Transition Hotspots
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos explained that the fresh cases were “overwhelmingly” concentrated in 10 Melbourne suburbs.
"We've got many cases across the inner-northern suburbs and the western suburbs of Melbourne, but not exclusively," Ms Mikakos said. "And it's important to reiterate to the community that you are not immune from catching coronavirus by virtue of the postcode that you live in."
Second Peak of Infection?
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton is not keen on sounding alarm bells, even as he noted that Victoria is now in the middle of a second infection peak.
He admitted to ABC News that transmission in Victoria already slowed at one point, but accelerated anew once restrictions were loosened.
Despite this, Sutton stood by the government’s decision to ease restrictions earlier this month.
After all, he said the region has been aggressive in its mass testing efforts, so much so that if the surge does get out of control, he believes “it will not be from a lack of effort.”
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the total number of infections in Victoria now stands at 2,099.
Alternatives to ‘Uncomfortable’ Swab Tests
Moving forward, officials hope to lock down transmission of the virus by testing 50 percent of the total residents of each suburb.
Mass testing is currently underway in the following hotspots:
- Keilor Downs
- Sunshine West
- Brunswick West
Residents who are uncomfortable with invasive nasal swabs, a saliva test has been made available.
Even though Doherty Institute’s Sharon Lewin thinks the gold standard is still throat swabbing, she says the saliva test’s 87 percent success rate is commendable.
"It's much better to have this done than no test at all," she said.