Victoria’s impressive loss to the second wave puts her in rare company with just a handful of spots, experts say.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes are allowed to open from midnight tonight, and family visits are expected to be allowed at home soon.
It’s a world away from the lowest point of Victoria’s lockdown in July, when the daily caseload topped 700, a curfew was imposed and stores closed – some of which will never recover.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews’ handling of the pandemic was not without its flaws, including the quarantine spot at the hotel which started the second wave and resulted in hundreds of deaths.
But the model he used – one that has proven extremely unpopular with large numbers of Victorians – is being studied worldwide.
University of South Australia epidemiologist Professor Adrian Esterman says only Hong Kong and Vietnam have achieved what Victoria has achieved.
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“They are the only two (other) countries that successfully crushed the second wave,” he says.
“Both are somewhat authoritarian regimes, however.”
In Hong Kong, the second wave peaked on July 30, when 149 new cases were recorded. This was followed by almost single-digit daily increases for almost all of April, May and June.
The wave hit hard and Hong Kong responded with blanket bans. They are now reopening schools and optimizing travel bubble arrangements with other Asian countries in similar positions including Singapore.
As noted elsewhere, Hong Kong and its Asian neighbors benefited from epidemic plans that were in place before the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
Large parts of Europe now in a widespread and devastating second wave had none of the above.
Vietnam beat its second wave like Victoria, but it did so with a mix of hard and fast rules and creative initiatives to influence good behavior – including a viral song about hand washing.
They locked people up in April to suppress a first wave only to have it return in mid-August, much worse this time.
Michael Toole, Professor of International Health at the Burnet Institute, wrote in The Conversation this week that Vietnam’s response has been a great success.
“As during the first wave, blanket tests were carried out in Da Nang, transport to and from the city was canceled and bars and restaurants were closed,” he wrote.
“The same local measures were implemented in certain areas of Hanoi when new cases were identified. The country has not reported any community broadcast since early September.
Professor Esterman says what Victoria has done proves that Mr Andrews’ approach has been successful and will benefit the state in relation to the prospect of a third wave.
“Most of the Victorians I’ve had contact with really understood the importance of containing the second wave and were ready to make the sacrifices for it,” he told news.com.au.
“Of course it has been especially difficult for single people, people with mental health problems, people who have lost their jobs, and entrepreneurs. But now they can reap the benefits with the rest of Australia.
“There’s always the Whinger and the Tin Foil Hat Brigade, but luckily they seem to be in the minority.”
He said Victoria’s success has been highly competitive and requires significant changes, including improvements to contact tracking.
“Victoria started the second wave in a bad place: below par contact tracing team, some bad government decisions, poor communication, especially with her non-English speaking population, and just plain bad luck.
“However, all of these things (aside from bad luck) have been corrected, and I give credit to the government for a tremendous effort. Even more praise goes to the everyday Victorians. ”
He called the prospect of a third wave “pretty low”.
“Based on current experience, improved contact tracing and better communication by the Victorian government, any small outbreak should be contained.”
News.com.au reported last week that Melbourne had seen one of the longest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world.
Deakin University epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Bennett said Victoria’s performance was of international importance.
“The best comparison we found was Singapore,” she said.
“It’s the only one that really had a second wave and then got it under control.
“They closed the retail trade and the rest. However, they have started removing some of these restrictions earlier. ”
The Prime Minister yesterday thanked the Victorians for their role in reversing the second wave. He recognized their incredible sacrifices.
“Now is the time to congratulate every single Victorian on their stay,” he said. “Now is the time to thank each and every Victorian family for being guided by the data, the science, and the doctors.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also grateful for Victoria’s efforts.
“The Victorians worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this point. We thank them for their patience and perseverance, ”he said.
“Today’s announcement reflects the commitment and efforts of the Victorians – the next step in reopening Victorian society and the state economy.
“After a long winter, there is light for Victorians at the end of the tunnel.”
This light leads directly into the pub at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
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