Brisbane lockdown ‘won’t solve problem’

By | January 10, 2021

A leading Australian infectious disease expert has criticised Greater Brisbane’s snap three-day-lockdown, saying it was an “unreasonable” over-reaction that “won’t solve the problem”.

The city’s 2.2 million residents have been under strict stay-at-home orders since 6pm on Friday, with an announcement to be made on Monday morning as to whether the restrictions will ease later that day.

The measures were enacted after a hotel quarantine worker contracted the highly contagious UK variant of COVID-19 and spent five days unknowingly infectious in the community.

Professor Peter Collignon from the Australian National University told 2GB on Monday that the lockdown suggested authorities had no faith in contact tracing.

“This is a single case, and I don’t think anyone in the world has ever done this (three-day lockdown) before,” he said.

“Three days will not solve the problem because the average incubation period is five days. You really have to wait, people have to isolate for 10 to 14 days, even 28 days for two full incubation periods.

“It almost says we don’t have faith in our contact tracing system.”

The strain Queensland authorities fear is circulating in the community is at least 70 per cent more infectious than previous variants of the virus; however, Professor Collignon said it hadn’t spread “markedly” in many other countries.

“It’s in 30 or 40 countries but it hasn’t become the predominant strain in many of those,” he said.

Professor Collignon said recent outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne highlighted how it was possible to bring the virus under control without restricting people.

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“I do think that if you have faith in the system, you can do it … We have eliminated the virus in most parts,” he said.

“The Avalon cluster … appears to have been brought under control and it will disappear … I suspect Berala will disappear as well.”

He said while it was admirable Australia was aiming for elimination, that was unlikely to ever truly occur unless the country was prepared to become a “hermit nation.”

“The trouble I have with elimination is that people become complacent … It’s inevitable we will have leaks,” he said.

“That is the reality, we just need to make the probability lower, but you have to accept you might get it.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable that every time we get a case we lock down our cities.”

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