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Let’s hope for luck and a short, sharp lockdown

It was almost inevitable. As winter approached this year, so too did the outbreaks. Lockdowns soon followed. With the Delta variant now circulating across Melbourne and exposure sites being updated by the hour, the state has returned to playing a serious game of whack-a-mole in a bid to snuff out the latest outbreak. Victoria has its work cut out for it.

While contact tracing in Victoria has manifestly improved, augmented by the mandating of standardised QR codes, the Delta variant has, in many parts of the world, proved to be more than equal to the task of rapidly spreading, despite the best of containment efforts. As Victoria’s COVID response commander, Jeroen Weimar, lamented on Friday, “we are back in the world of fleeting transmission occurring”, which is a trademark of the highly infectious Delta strain.

Premier Daniel Andrews announces the new five-day lockdown.

Premier Daniel Andrews announces the new five-day lockdown.Credit:Getty Images

But if there is any silver lining to Victoria clocking up its fifth lockdown, it is that lessons have been learnt, hard won as the gains were. The Age welcomes the much faster implementation of the financial assistance package for businesses and individual workers most affected by the lockdown. There is also far less confusion over changes to the social-distancing settings, mask wearing has become the norm and fewer people appear to be making the mad dash to the supermarket for toilet paper and other basics.

The Andrews government is also providing more information in a transparent way detailing the type and number of infections, and the trails of transmission. And in what has become a contentious point of difference with NSW, the mantra “go early and go hard” when implementing a lockdown has become accepted wisdom in this state.

Because of this, despite the regular band of protesters who front up at the start of each lockdown, enforcement has become less contentious. Even the battle of the #IStandWithDan versus #DictatorDan hashtags that raged last year on Twitter appears to have lost its momentum. And in another sign of change, commentators advocating that governments lift restrictions and just live with the virus are no longer taken seriously.

It’s not to say that lockdowns have become ho-hum. Far from it. Every one of them has had consequences, whether it be financial or in terms of people’s mental health. Countless holiday plans, weddings, public events and gatherings have been ruined. The cumulative effect is sure to be taking a toll on most people.

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It will help that the political mud-throwing between Canberra and the Andrews government that broke out during the week appears to have receded. The Morrison government’s quick change of heart over kicking in money to support Victorians from the very first day of this lockdown will help lower the heat and allay suggestions from some that Prime Minister Scott Morrison was favouring Sydney.

As it stands, we can only hope that this lockdown is short and sharp. We have come to understand that shutting down an outbreak is an alchemy of expertise, a competent team of people conducting testing and tracing the virus, a majority of the community willing to follow the restrictions and a healthy dose of luck. After living with the virus in the community for so long, Victoria has an abundance of the first three of those facets. Fingers crossed we come in for our share of the final of those essentials. It would be well deserved.

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