Victoria showing signs of second wave

First published 29 June 2020

The spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria this week is evidence of what could be a second wave of the pandemic, QUT public health expert Emeritus Professor Gerry FitzGerald has warned.

  • Evidence of second wave in 75 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria 
  • Social distance and isolation could be key in controlling the surge in cases
  • Important to make sure Victorian outbreak does not spread to other states

With Victoria today reporting 75 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, Professor FitzGerald said it would be wise for Victorians to again increase social distancing and reemphasise enhanced personal hygiene.

“In terms of Australia’s experience, this is evidence of a second wave in that 75 new cases in Victoria is similar to that experienced in the first wave in Victoria,” Professor FitzGerald said.

“However, it is important to keep this in perspective, in that while Australia detected 75 new cases in the last 24 hours, the United States diagnosed over 44,000 new cases and Brazil almost 47,000 new cases.

“While there is evidence of community transmission occurring in Victoria it is not as yet widespread.

“The importance of this difference is that the principal strategy remains, to identify all cases to require them and their contacts to be isolated, and to closely monitor the contacts to identify any emergence of symptoms and to ensure that those people are tested as well.”

Professor FitzGerald, who was previously Chief Health Officer for Queensland, said the best strategy to control the outbreak in Victoria was case identification, contact tracing, isolation, quarantine and close monitoring.

“However, the effectiveness of these strategies would be enhanced by breaking the rate of growth of the outbreak and the spread around other communities,” he said.

“This would be best achieved by enhanced social distancing particularly for those who have symptoms that may be suspicious of COVID-19.”

Professor Gerry FitzGerald

Professor FitzGerald, from QUT's Faculty of Health, School of Public Health, said Australia was the envy of much of the world for its success in dealing with COVID-19 but that reputation of success was at risk with the Victorian figures.

“If Australia had the mortality of New York City we would have had more than 60,000 deaths,” Professor Fitzgerald said.

“It is critical that the situation in Victoria is brought under control as quickly as possible.”

Professor FitzGerald said the situation in Victoria would be of considerable concern to other states where there had been very little evidence of sustained community transmission.

“The only new cases are amongst those people who have acquired the disease overseas and have returned to Australia. As they have been in quarantine, they pose little risk to the broader Australian community,” Professor FitzGerald said.

“It would be in no one’s interest for undetected disease amongst people in Victoria to spread to other states and cause further community-based outbreaks in those states.”

Media contact:

Rod Chester, QUT Media, 07 3138 9449, rod.chester@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au