Melbourne may remain under stage 4 coronavirus restrictions until mid-October, Deputy CHO says

  

AAP: Daniel Pockett

   

Melbourne may remain in stage 4 lockdown until mid-October, one of the state’s deputy chief health officers says, as new modelling suggests easing restrictions now would bring a high risk of a third wave of coronavirus infections.

 
Professor Allen Cheng said Victoria’s infection numbers needed to get much closer to the numbers New South Wales is recording before the risk of a third wave would be reduced enough for the state to reopen.

 
The modelling by researchers at the University of Melbourne and University of New England has been released by the Victorian Government ahead of an announcement later today on the state’s next steps.

 
“It is unlikely we will have aggressively suppressed the virus by mid-September,” the authors say.

 
“We’re coming down maybe not quite as quickly as we’d like, but the numbers are definitely coming down,” Professor Cheng said.

 
There has been some community hope that restrictions may be eased in mid-September, at the end of the initial six-week period of stage 4 restrictions.

 
But the modelling estimates that Victoria will have a 14-day average of 63 cases a day in mid-September, down from 116 last Friday.

 
“There is going to be a bit of chance in there but clearly … we’re still a bit off the thresholds we think we would like to be at, and that would mean that yes, we do need to extend some form of lockdown for longer,” Professor Cheng said.

 
The modelling was commissioned in part to estimate what a safe threshold for reopening would be.

 
Reporting by Casey Briggs.

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