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Victoria’s state of disaster is also a national emergency


There is certainly some ‘‘shock and awe’’, as Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, described it. But that is obviously what the Victorian government was hoping for. Complacency had set in. The effectiveness of the stage three restrictions in Melbourne had run its course. They had succeeded in slowing the spread but not quashing the virus.

The blame can probably be shared. When teams doorknocked across Melbourne to check on those who had tested positive, a quarter were not home. People continued to go to work with symptoms that should have sent them straight to a testing site. Not wearing a mask and crossing restricted borders had become an act of defiance worthy of social media attention.

Australia is not alone in battling an increase in infections despite once thinking the worst was behind it. Last week, Japan set a daily record of more than 1000 infections for the first time since the pandemic began. Hong Kong, Israel and Spain are also battling rising infection rates. And with a death toll that has now surged past 150,000, America is ground zero for the horrific consequences of a divided country unwilling to commit to the actions needed to restrict COVID-19’s spread.

But unlike some other nations, Australia still appears willing to make the sacrifice to bring this pandemic under control. While there have been sporadic outbreaks of bickering between levels of government, the public has made it clear it has no time for such politics as usual. We welcome the unity shown in the messages from Andrews, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

It was Mr Morrison who once said, ‘‘We are all Melburnians now.’’ It is more true than ever. Victoria needs the support of the nation. If we fail to suppress the virus, the rest of Australia will struggle to keep it out.

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