Although Covid cases are beginning to decline in eastern states, it appears that the easing of restrictions in an attempt to “open up the economy” has had a negative effect.
In a statement this week, Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) General Manager Terry Slevin said efforts by most states to return to normal had failed.
“What we didn’t understand then, but what we understand better now, is that it is also a means of maintaining the viability of the economy,” he added. Professor Slevin said.
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It follows by Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last week that Australia would treat Omicron as a “gear switch” and “pass” to protect hospitals, while supporting the economy.
“You have two choices here: you can pass or you can lock. We are for passing.”
However, the way most of Australia has dealt with the spread of Omicron has been to lay low, causing it to experience a shadow lockdown.
The self-imposed restrictions were determined by Australians frustrated that public health measures were removed or abandoned just as the Omicron wave descended.
This new self-regulation continues, even after the federal government redefined the definition of close contact and changed Covid isolation rules to help ease the strain on the workforce and supply chains.
This change in people’s behavior, according to Professor Warwick McKibbin from ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, now determines greater economic loss, as opposed to lockdowns.
“In our modeling, most of the economic costs come from human behavior and not from the closures themselves,”‘ he says.
To suppress transmission of the virus, Professor McKibbin said the reintroduction of measures such as capacity limits, mask mandates and limiting the number of people who can visit private homes are essential.
“Whatever scenario you envision, a pandemic, whatever its nature, whatever the number of waves, causes massive economic disruption and must be avoided at all costs.”
– Prof. McKibbin
It comes as Victoria reports a drop in cases with 13,091 new infections on Sunday and sadly another 14 lives lost.
There are currently 191,058 active coronavirus cases statewide, with 1,002 people hospitalized with Covid, while 120 of them are in intensive care and 44 are on ventilators.
Of today’s new infections, 6,625 were detected through positive PCR tests out of a total of 32,435 PCR test results received.
While 6,466 cases have been reported by Victorians from rapid antigen tests (RATs) at home.
Currently, more than 93% of Victorians aged over 12 are now fully immunized, while 31% have received their third dose.
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