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We're on path to eliminate
Herald Sun, Melbourne  by Rhiannon Down
04 Sep 2020
General News - Page 1 - 499 words - ID 1327537827 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 1033.00cm2

TOP epidemiologists say Victoria appears to be chasing a coronavirus elimination strategy. Epidemiology Professor Adrian Esterman said a draft road map out of lockdown, which suggested Victoria could not hit stage two restrictions until it had an average of just five daily cases for two weeks, aimed to eliminate the virus rather than suppress it.

"If you wanted suppression you could do it at 20 or 30 cases," Prof Esterman said.

FULL REPORT, PAGE 11

RHIANNON DOWN ALEX WHITE TOP epidemiologists say Victoria appears to be chasing an aggressive elimination strategy as it attempts to drive down coronavirus numbers.

University of South Australia epidemiology Professor Adrian Esterman said a draft road map out of lockdown, which suggested Victoria could not hit stage two restrictions until it had recorded an average of just five daily cases for two weeks, aimed to eliminate the virus, not suppress it.

"At the moment NSW is grumbling along at 20 cases a day. If you're going for five there's no reason why you can't take it down to zero," Prof Esterman said. "It suggests a strategy of elimination to me.

If you wanted suppression you could do it at 20 or 30 cases." Deakin University chairwoman of epidemiology Catherine Bennett said it was a "big ask" for Victorians to have stage three restrictions until cases dropped below five a day.

"If you've got the numbers down to the 20 mark or less, you don't need to be under stage three restrictions," she said. "NSW is managing it, not easily, with up to 20 cases a day and then to demand Victoria goes down to five until we can get out of these stage three plus restrictions is a very big ask.

"We should be able to eliminate once we get below 20 cases with a combination of prevention and a really aggressive hunt for cases." University of Melbourne global health Professor Nancy Baxter agreed, saying "it sounds like (elimination) is the goal".

"Many other places have opened up from a deep lockdown like a stage three approach before they've reached that kind of level of cases," Prof Baxter said.

A report from the Grattan Institute, released on Thursday night, recommended "Victoria should ease restrictions only when cases are below 20 a day".

But it warned that even with low numbers there would always be the risk of outbreaks.

Amid debate over whether Victoria should pursue suppression or elimination, Premier Daniel Andrews said the state was chasing an "active aggressive suppression strategy".

"I'm confident that we've got the systems and processes in place to actively suppress, but you have got to get the numbers to a low level first," Mr Andrews said.

It comes as Victoria recorded 113 new infections on Thursday, with 43 linked to outbreaks or complex cases and 70 under investigation.

The state's death toll rose to 591 with 15 more deaths - four males and three females in their 80s and two males and six females in their 90s.

rhiannon.down@news.com.au

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