When we’ll know if lockdown is working
Victoria's chief health officer has said the sacrifices the state's residents have made will be reflected in the number of new coronavirus cases in the next week and that new restrictions introduced on Sunday will have an even greater impact.
Professor Brett Sutton made the comments at a daily press conference updating the state's coronavirus situation alongside Premier Dan Andrews.
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He said: "We will see the effect of universal mask wearing in the numbers in the week ahead" and that if people follow the directions that have been laid out, "we will see the effect of these restrictions in the following week.
"But they will be ongoing and they will continue right through the six week period where we will see a reduction in numbers week on week".
"We should reflect on the fact that stage three restrictions did make a difference," Prof Sutton said.
"They genuinely flattened the curve, but they flattened the curve to a point where we got to a plateau."
He said case numbers had stabilised but if nothing changed "that would have continued indefinitely".
"If you are really only driving transmission down to a level where one person infects one other individual, then you have 400, 500 cases every day ongoing.
"That means you have hundreds of cases going into next month and the month after and the month after."
The state previously mandated masks for people leaving the house, beginning on July 23 and with $200 fines for those who didn't comply.
Victoria introduced new stage four restrictions on Sunday night as part of a state of disaster declaration.
Among the new restrictions are limits on movement for the residents of 31 council areas in Melbourne who can now only leave the house to buy groceries or exercise, and must do it within a five kilometre radius of their home, in groups of less than two.
Residents are no longer allowed visitors in their home, with exceptions for couples who live apart.
Most restrictive has been the introduction of an 8pm to 5am curfew.
Regional Victoria will enter stage three restrictions on Wednesday.
Prof Sutton said the restrictions have been "very substantial" but that he "absolutely expect that we will see transmission driven down and cases to decrease over time".
He said the new restrictions "will make a huge difference" by limiting the virus' opportunity to spread in workplaces, indoors, and in homes.
"They are all downward pressure on transmission of this virus very broadly across society, and so we can expect the numbers will improve week on week, but they will improve to the extent that we follow the advice, because it is not just the opportunities for transmission, it is also what a potentially infected individual does."
Prof Sutton reiterated that people should isolate the second they start having symptoms, and that getting tested and having close contacts quarantine themselves were also "really critical".
"We need to keep on right through this period, but there is an absolute expectation that this will do the right thing, and will drive numbers down as people follow the directions," Prof Sutton said.
Originally published as When we'll know if lockdown is working