We are rapidly heading towards double figures for new case reports of COVID-19 in Victoria. Everything is pointing that way, even our daily press conferences that have this past week been appropriately cautiously optimistic are now verging on buoyant as we hit the 100s, with the Chief Health Officer bidding farewell to counts in the terrible 300s on his watch.
But the reality is, we don’t know how far we can push the numbers down once we get into double digits. Epidemic curves can have long tails even when they are simple single outbreaks with random transmission in the community. In Victoria, we have multiple outbreaks simultaneously, some workplace-based, some in healthcare or residential care settings, some in the community, and of course, those mystery cases that do not present a clear picture of transmission chain or predictable infection risk.
It will be fabulous if we can suppress transmission to a point where it stifles chains of spread enough to shut this down completely, so we can achieve elimination of local transmission once more. To achieve this, we would need to get to low double digits this week, and then hold cases at that level for the remainder of stage 4.
Restrictions that suppress the number of close contacts are ideal for closing down remaining outbreaks, and mopping up other chains of transmission, whether they are being tracked through testing and visible, or not. That is a big ask. Not impossible, and something we should all individually and collectively strive for, but we should also be prepared for plan B.