As of 11:59pm tonight, Victoria will be heading back into lockdown (again). What was an outbreak of four cases three days ago has grown to be an outbreak of 26 cases, with exposure sites increasingly spread out across the city. It seems that the B1617 variant that we’re dealing with is not only very infectious, but very quickly infectious. What they said in the press conference this morning is that where the “normal” time to replication (i.e. the time it takes an infected person to infect someone else) is 5–6 days, this one is replicating in 24 hours.

It does seem like contract tracers have been doing a really, really good job up to this point – I was a bit dismayed back in February when we locked down over two cases a day, and that seemed to be down to contact tracers still being under-resourced – but in this case it seemed they were very quickly posting new exposure sites and contacting close and second-tier contacts of known cases and the infectiousness of this variant has just outpaced them. In the press conference today they said that contact tracers have already got in touch with 10,000 known contacts of existing cases… clearly that’s not sustainable and I think a lockdown makes total sense in this situation. I’m guessing we’re going to see case numbers climb higher over the weekend before (hopefully!!!!) going down after that.

James Merlino, the Acting Premier, has also made the point numerous times that this outbreak demonstrates how absolutely critical vaccination is. As of yesterday, at least, it seemed Victorians were already taking heed, with the amount of vaccinations in state-run hubs that day being double the daily average for the previous two weeks (~15,000 compared to ~7,500). I know I’ve chatted to my dad and he’s currently trying to arrange vaccines for my mum and himself…1 not that they were “vaccine-hesitant” in the first place, but he works a lot on top of his caring duties, and my mum has very serious mobility challenges, and I think it took something major like this to shock him into actually picking up the phone to try to book. There may well be a lot of people in that position and the sooner they can all get vaccinated, the better. I’m still looking forward to when the option seems clearly available to myself.

  1. An update on this: the earliest slot their local GP clinic had was June 22! And that’s just for the first dose, of course! Maybe it’s time to stop blaming the slow roll-out exclusively on “hold-out Boomers” and recognise that the distribution of doses is still not efficient enough. ↩︎