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Epidemiologist Professor Emma McBryde predicts Sydney Covid cases will remain in the hundreds

An infectious diseases expert has declared Australia can’t keep going into lockdown to achieve zero cases of community Covid transmission.

Professor Emma McBryde, an epidemiologist with James Cook University, has also predicted Sydney’s daily case numbers of the more contagious Delta strain would remain in triple digits until at least October.

‘My prediction is that Sydney won’t drive cases down to zero but what it will do is maintain a small number of cases and, by small I mean a couple of hundred a day or less for another couple of months,’ she told the ABC’s 7.30 program. 

‘By then the rest of Australia will have sufficient vaccination and be in a position where we no longer concentrate on cases and we start to look at hospitalisations and deaths and then Sydney will join the rest of Australia at that point.’

An infectious diseases expert has declared Australia can’t keep going into lockdown to achieve zero cases of community Covid transmission. Professor Emma McBryde, an epidemiologist with James Cook University, has also predicted Sydney daily case numbers of the more contagious Delta strain would remain in triple digits until at least October

In New South Wales, case numbers have continued to hit new record highs even after Premier Gladys Berejiklian extended the lockdown for another four weeks until August 28.

The numbers on Monday remained high at 209, and on Tuesday stood at 199, with 50 of them infectious in the community.

On Sunday, the state had a record 239 new locally-acquired cases, despite even harsher restrictions in Sydney’s west and south-west in the Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Parramatta, Blacktown, Campbelltown and Georges River local government areas.

Still, the highest number in NSW since the pandemic began are only a third of the 723 cases Victoria recorded on July 30 last year, following a hotel quarantining debacle in Melbourne.

Professor McBryde, who is based in Townsville, said the case numbers were still low by world standards.

‘In Sydney, even though we’re very worried about these 200, 300 cases a day, that is not a lot of cases compared to what we’ve seen in the UK and in the US,’ she said.

Since the pandemic all mainland Australian states, except NSW, have deployed a zero Covid strategy where hard lockdowns are imposed in a bid to achieve 28 days of no community-acquired cases, even if the numbers are low.

Ms Berejiklian has instead used the phrase ‘close to zero’ to justify unwinding the lockdown.

In New South Wales (pictured is Fairfield in Sydney's south-west), case numbers have continued to hit new record highs even after Premier Gladys Berejiklian extended the lockdown for another four weeks until August 28

In New South Wales (pictured is Fairfield in Sydney’s south-west), case numbers have continued to hit new record highs even after Premier Gladys Berejiklian extended the lockdown for another four weeks until August 28

With the Indian Delta strain significantly more contagious than the original virus from China, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Saturday announced a snap, three-day lockdown in 11 council areas covering Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich after six locally-acquired cases were detected.

That was extended on Monday until Sunday, with 13 new daily Delta cases, with another 16 new cases on Tuesday.

Professor McBryde said this approach was unsustainable.

‘We need to have a plan B,’ she said.

‘I don’t believe that we should have thresholds that mean we have herd immunity before we open up because what that means is we have zero tolerance for any Covid transmission at all and I think it’s unrealistic and it is going to keep us in lockdown for much too long.’

With the Indian Delta strain significantly more contagious than the original virus from China, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Saturday announced a snap, three-day lockdown in 11 council areas covering Brisbane (pictured is a Covid testing centre), the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich after six locally-acquired cases were detected

With the Indian Delta strain significantly more contagious than the original virus from China, Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Saturday announced a snap, three-day lockdown in 11 council areas covering Brisbane (pictured is a Covid testing centre), the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich after six locally-acquired cases were detected

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said Australia would have to ‘ultimately live with the virus’ as at least 70 per cent of people were vaccinated. 

‘Of course, the virus will never be eliminated but we can get to a point where we live with the virus,’ he said. 

Just 19.2 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over were fully vaccinated as of August 1, with 41 per cent of the eligible population having received one dose of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer, Department of Health data showed.

Last week, Nobel laureate Professor Peter Doherty suggested politics was behind the zero-Covid strategy behind lockdowns, predicting this would be hard to undo even as more Australians were fully vaccinated to sufficiently prevent deaths and serious illness.

‘It is going to be difficult politically for the politicians to open up because there will be disease circulating and we are so accustomed to the idea that no virus should circulate but we don’t shut down the country because of flu,’ he told 7.30.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk