Sutton’s reality check for Victoria

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has issued a warning to those who might think four days of zero new coronavirus cases and zero new deaths mean the state is out of the woods.

Tweeting hours after Victoria recorded its fifth day with no new cases in the last eight days, Brett Sutton shared an example of how bad things get “if you don’t crush the virus”.

“Why is getting to very low/no cases and keeping them there so important? The graph below is of Switzerland. Three cases on June 3 and now 10,000 per day and rising exponentially. If you don’t crush this virus, it could crush you,” he wrote.

Cases of COVID-19 are indeed spiking in Switzerland. In the Swiss capital, Geneva, a state of emergency has been declared and new measures have been introduced to shut down all non-essential businesses including restaurants and bars.

There were more than 1000 new cases a day in recent days in Geneva. Local news services report that in the 72 hours leading up to November 2, there were 21,926 new cases.

That figure is 26 per cent higher than the weekend before, Le News reports.

It is a tragic turn of the curve for a country that looked to have defeated the virus in June when there were zero new cases. The second wave came hard and has been unforgiving.

It is a similar story in many parts of Europe. The UK has introduced a four-week lockdown as cases spike, putting in doubt the likelihood that families can gather together at Christmas.

Belgium is experiencing a rapid rise in new COVID-19 cases, too. It is reported that more than 300,000 of the country’s 11 million people have been diagnosed with the virus.

A single daily record of 20,000 new cases is putting pressure on hospitals around Liege, the epicentre of the country’s outbreak.

But Victoria, which saw its own second wave peak with daily cases of more than 700 in July, successfully suppressed the virus with a harsh lockdown that was criticised by many but successful.

It is among the only places in the world to have seen a second wave so large and had cases return to zero, experts say.

But Professor Sutton says the fight is not over yet, warning Victorians — particularly those in Melbourne — to stay vigilant amid warmer weather and the easing of restrictions.

Restaurants, bars and cafes opened last week after shutting down to all by takeaway service for months. Retail, likewise, sprung open its doors and Melburnians responded by hitting the shops and dining out.

Let’s hope that doesn’t get taken away from us anytime soon.

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