Australia

State dodged 20,000 new COVID cases a day: Deputy Chief Health Officer

Victoria was on course for a COVID-19 catastrophe of 20,000 new daily infections by mid August when the state government imposed its stage three restriction in early July.

Acting Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said on Thursday that the rate of infections had been growing ten-fold every ten days when the government stepped in to reimpose the lockdown and that without action, new cases might have reached 20,000 a day by August 12.

Acting Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng provides an updates on Wednesday as Premier Daniel Andrews looks on.

Acting Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng provides an updates on Wednesday as Premier Daniel Andrews looks on.Credit:Joe Armao

The Monash University epidemiologist said he hoped to see the present rate of daily infections, which reached a record high of 725 on Wednesday, begin to drop in the coming days as the mandated use of face masks and the stage four lockdown announced on Sunday begin to take effect.

Professor Cheng’s estimates follow research by the Burnet Institute released earlier this week that indicated 27,000 new cases of the killer virus might have occurred in July instead of the 8300 reported diagnoses, if the growth rate had continued unchanged.

The institute’s study, published this week in The Medical Journal of Australia, found the July restrictions might by now have averted between 9000 and 37,000 cases of infection.

Professor Cheng said the state’s pandemic was a on a very dangerous trajectory in early- to mid-July.

"On June 25 we first hit 20 cases in this second phase," he said.

"On July 11, 16 days later, we had 200 cases.

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"So what that would imply if we had continued with that same growth rate, that 16 days after that, which would be July 27, it would be at 2000 cases and by next week, August 12, we would have hit 20,000 cases."

Despite avoiding a nightmare scenario of tens of thousands of daily cases, the present rate of daily infection was still "too high" the Deputy Chief Health Officer said but he hoped to see it begin to drop by early next week.

"I don’t want to get into a number but I would hope it is substantially less than what it is now and we would start to see that start of next week," he said.

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