COVID-19

Should we go back into lockdown?

SHOULD WE GO INTO LOCKDOWN?EA: Yes Victoria should go into lockdown – but only because it is the UK variant.CB: So far all cases have been primary or secondary cases directly associated with the Holiday Inn exposure. There seems to be some concern about waste water test results but at least one of the new positives was explained by a new case announced Thursday … wastewater results should be part of target testing strategies, but not in themselves be enough to trigger a full lockdownIF SO, HOW LONG FOR?AE: I’d go for short and sharp – 6 days.CB: Circuit breaker lockdowns of a few days are used to buy time to assess a situation and determine how widespread community transmission might be, and to get those exposed into quarantine. Lockdown suppresses the risk of superspreader events, but when the risk is still low with limited exposure sites even a short lockdown does not seem proportionateWHAT SHOULD RESTRICTIONS BE?AE: Shutting shops, restricting movement and reimplementing the 5km rule, wearing masks outside.CB: I would recommend more tightening of social mixing without going to full lockdown. Reduce household visitors to 5 or outdoors only, masks in shared work places, limits on larger non ticketed events etc WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?AE: It will give breathing space to the contact tracers, and reduce potential spread.CB: It reduces the risk of transmission occurring if there are people who have been infected but are unaware and have yet to develop symptoms. It’s about putting most of the population (not essential workers) into quarantine in case they happen to be incubating the virus or are already infectious.WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS? AE: The economic and mental pain of entering another lockdown.CB: We have to weigh up the likelihood that there are other infectious people out there, and the likelihood they will pass the virus on, against all the costs of lockdown; broader health impacts this brings, especially in a city still early in the recovery of more than 4 months of lockdown in 2020.WHAT IS THE RISK OF THIS PARTICULAR STRAIN IN THE COMMUNITY?AE: Because it is so contagious, it could start a third wave.CB: Public Health England data provides the most detailed examination of the difference in infectivity that I have seen. They measured the number of close contacts who were infected and found that for the other usual variants that was 11%, and for B 1.1.7, the mutant variant, it was 14.7%. That matters if the variant is responsible for widespread community transmission, so we need to avoid that. But it is still very manageable at early stages of outbreaks – and that is reassuring, If we reduce the number of close contacts each of us has over the next few days, it makes it even harder for the virus to take off. Some further restrictions will help that, but lockdown should hopefully not be necessary.IS THIS THE THIRD WAVE?AE: It might well be – a day or two early to make that call.CB: No, we should not expect to have a third wave. This is very different to the seeding event we had in June with no wider unlinked cases yet, it is not in workplaces yet, and our contact tracing and public health response is much, much stronger. We have [email protected]

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