It’s hard to fathom just how those in Melbourne managed to endure extended weeks of lockdown – and not even just any lockdown, but one that was so strict they had curfews and couldn’t venture outside of a certain distance from their home. Here in NSW, things have been relatively more lax, but after feeling like we were finally seeing some return to normality, the jolt back to Covid-19 reality was still a shock to the system. Add to that the numerous families and individuals gravely impacted by weeks off work and the closure of business, and the thought of lockdown being extended is a bleak prospect.
As many question whether Friday will bring salvation from lockdown, it appears experts are warning not to get your hopes up. Since lockdown began, case numbers in NSW have continued to bounce around despite Premier Gladys Berejiklian being pleased with the direction they’re headed. “I can say that the lockdown certainly has been effective in not doubling and tripling the figures that we were worried about,” said the Premier in a press conference.
“The next few days are critical,” she added. “We want to get out of this lockdown as soon as possible in a timely way.”
While case numbers within the community continue to be discovered, the percentage of people testing positive while infectious is trending downwards, from 60 per cent on June 26 to as low as 13 per cent on July 4. But as health experts have warned, the outbreak in NSW will continue to climb if lockdown ends as cases continue to be found.
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Epidemiologist Tony Blakely from the University of Melbourne said in an interview with ABC that despite the promising signs, NSW is not ready to lift stay-at-home restrictions. “For a lockdown to be successful, we really need to see the number of notified cases that are out in the community down to zero,” said Professor Blakely.
“There’s still cases popping up in the community where they’ve been infectious…that means there’s community transmissions happening out there.”
It’s been known that the Deltra strain that is currently gripping Sydney is at least twice as infectious as the strain that forced Melbourne residents indoors for months during the state’s second wave. At the time, a person who caught the strain in Melbourne was estimated to transmit the virus to 2.5 people in pre-pandemic conditions with no masks or social distancing. The delta strain now has a reproductive rate of at least five.
Though lockdown is scheduled to end on July 9, many believe it’s too soon. “If we just open up restrictions at that point, they will just take off again…that’s just how the virus behaves,” said Professor Blakely. “It’s not just a situation for NSW, the virus can move around and get across borders, so it’s also an issue for the rest of Australia too.”