How Victoria’s killer second wave was most likely caused by just ONE person despite the state having the most effective social distancing in Australia
- Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday confirmed another 363 cases
- But state had best social distancing in Australia as COVID-19 resurgence began
- Online mobility data has showed Victorians best nationally at social distancing
- Estimated reproduction rate on July 1 was just 0.92, well behind the NT at 1.51
- ‘It says an unlucky event has led to dramatic consequences,’ lead professor said
Victoria had the best social distancing in the nation as its horror second wave began – indicating just one person may have been responsible for its deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
Mr Andrews on Sunday made face coverings compulsory from Wednesday night, while ordering Victorians to still only leave home just four essential reasons.
But a report compiled by Melbourne’s highly-regarded Doherty Institute has revealed residents in the state are actually taking social distancing more seriously than those elsewhere in Australia.
Using information from population surveys and mobility data from Google, Facebook, Apple, researchers found Victoria’s estimated effective reproduction rate beat all other states with a level on July 1 of just 0.92.
People wearing masks in Union lane in Melbourne on Sunday. Victoria is the best at social distancing in the country despite its horror second wave in recent weeks
The figure estimates the number of people any given member of the population would transmit the virus to if they were to become infectious.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR STATE AT SOCIAL DISTANCING?
Statewide estimated effective reproduction number (the number of people any given member of the population would transmit the virus to if they became infected)
Source: Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
‘Putting aside the actual outbreak, Victoria is a place where the virus is less able to spread than NSW, Sydney, South Australia, Western Australia,’ University of Melbourne mathematical biology Professor James McCaw told The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘What it says is an unlucky, random event has led to dramatic consequences in Victoria of an enormous outbreak. It has probably restarted from one or two or a very small number of infections.’
The institute’s data also revealed on July 1 – as the state’s second wave surged – the average number of non-household contacts per day for each Victorian was just 5.9.
By comparison, New South Wales had 8.1 contacts and Northern Territory residents were the most social in Australia with 11.5 contacts.
Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett said Victorians should be credited for their adherence to social distancing and that if the second outbreak had happened in NSW the case numbers may have been worse.
‘We’re still the best in the country on July 1. It’s important that Victorians are acknowledged for that. It’s a win, but it’s not enough,’ she said.
The data comes as an inquiry into Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine program begins on Monday.
The probe will be led by retired judge Jennifer Coate, assisted by Tony Neal QC.
Researchers found Victoria’s estimated effective reproduction rate – based on mobility data from Facebook, Google and Apple – beat all other states with a level on July 1 of just 0.92. Medical workers and police are pictured at a Government Commission tower in North Melbourne on Saturday
An Australian Defence Force member conducts a swab test a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility in Hoppers Crossing in south-west Melbourne on Friday. Researchers said an ‘unlucky, random’ event was likely the cause of Victoria’s second outbreak
The inquiry was ordered by Premier Daniel Andrews after it was revealed protocol breaches by security guards at two Melbourne hotels led to outbreaks.
Management of the hotel quarantine program is now being conducted by Corrections Victoria and police will also provide additional support, the premier confirmed on Sunday.
‘It just makes sense to take those extra steps … to try and make sure that you protect what is a particularly volatile environment from a virus point of view,’ Mr Andrews told reporters.