Health experts have revealed five key reasons why the second coronavirus lockdown in Victoria is not working.
The state saw a record 532 new COVID-19 cases on Monday despite Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire spending almost three weeks in lockdown.
Victoria recorded 384 new coronavirus cases and six deaths on Tuesday amid calls for the state to enter a New Zealand-style stage four lockdown.
Experts say the numbers have been so high due to people’s behaviour, pressure to go to work forcing many to show up even when they’re sick, and the full effect of mandatory mask laws not being felt yet.
Bad luck and not beginning the lockdown early enough have also helped drive the second wave.
Melbourne residents must abide by stage three restrictions and can only leave the house for four essential reasons – to shop for essential goods, provide care, exercise and study or work.
It also became mandatory to wear a face covering in public last Thursday and those who do not comply risk a $200 fine.
Hassan Vally, an epidemiologist at LaTrobe University, said wearing masks has not been mandatory long enough for the benefits to be reflected in daily cases.
‘There’s always a delay in seeing the effect of a public health intervention and you really need five to ten days to see the effect of mask wearing on numbers.
‘Hopefully by the end of this week we’ll be able to see a fall in numbers,’ Dr Vally told Daily Mail Australia.
He also said the second wave in Melbourne could be attributed to a case of bad luck.
‘This virus is going to exploit any weakness and any vulnerabilities you have in your society. This could happen anywhere else,’ Dr Vally explained.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also warned that ‘far too many people’ were going to work while sick.
‘It’s not the only issue but it is the biggest driver of transmission.
‘The lockdown will not end until people do not go to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested,’ he said on Monday.
Professor Julie Leask, a social scientist who specialises in risk communication and nursing at the University of Sydney, said economic pressure had a big impact.
‘There will always be a group of people who feel a pressure to work because of unsteady employment situations, like a casual worker who might not get a shift for another week.
‘They might be more likely to rationalise it [symptoms of coronavirus] as a little cold,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Australasian College of Infection Prevention and Control president Philip Russo said behavioural changes were also influencing the case numbers.
‘Clearly people aren’t following the guidelines and perhaps there’s a sense that they’re not going to be bothered too much if they do get the infection,’ Dr Russo told ABC News.
He condemned Victorians for flouting the rules and said people may have a new false sense of confidence and leave their homes more with a mask on.
‘Although we’re all wearing masks now we still need to continue to only go out for the four reasons,’ he explained.
Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, an epidemiologist and World Health Organisation member, said a stricter lockdown was needed earlier to prevent a second wave.
‘It’s simple, the ring-fencing wasn’t done properly. If you lock down people you actually have to keep them there, you don’t let them leave,’ she explained.
Professor McLaws said hotspots should have been sent into a full-scale lockdown, similar to those implemented in some Melbourne public housing towers, weeks ago.
She explained residents should have been prevented from going to work or at least have been forced to wear masks far earlier.