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Expert’s grim Christmas and NYE prediction

1 month ago 9

Forget New Year’s Eve fireworks at Sydney Harbour.

UNSW Epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws warns Aussies will be watching midnight celebrations at home unless we get coronavirus figures down to single digits.

Prof McLaws predicts people will be doing Christmas shopping with masks on even if numbers do go down.

“I’m not sure you’d still want to have New Year’s Eve parties and public observance of fireworks, so I would cancel public viewing and have people look at it at home so they can ensure that if they do get to zero or low community spread you don’t give the virus a chance to use New Year’s Eve as a way of spreading,” she said.

“We won’t be celebrating New Year’s Eve in the same way we did last year but it’s a small price to pay if we get to zero elimination and a better quality of life.”

In July Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Australia was aiming for “no community transmission” of coronavirus.

But that goal has been looking less likely as Victoria experiences its second wave of infections and double digit fatalities.

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Prof McLaws said if NSW wanted to get to zero community transmission it would need to put in place some tough restrictions, such as the use of face masks for the next couple of weeks.

“In NSW it’s a stubborn but unusual pattern spread in venues,” she said.

“It’s mainly social venues. They could introduce curfews but that will potentially impact takeaway so another way is just to get everyone to wear a mask for a couple of weeks.

“We may actually have a better Christmas than I expect only because if they are going for near elimination of community spread then that will require some investment in it initially, to get a handle on it now so you can then open the economy faster.”

With Christmas only 20 weeks away, Prof McLaws said: “If we’re lucky we might have the masks off.

“If the authorities are serious about getting to zero elimination for community spread, Christmas shopping is a busy time, there’s a lot of people around.

“You’d still have to wear a mask on public transport and at busy shops. Unless we have very low numbers for 14 days in a row I can’t see people shopping in town without a mask on for a while, but I hope I’m wrong.”

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Prof McLaws said “very low numbers” would mean single digits for the country for a two-week period.

Australia recorded 292 cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, with Victoria making up the majority of those.

Mr Morrison has already told Aussies not to make any Christmas travel plans with state borders likely still closed and the international border firmly shut.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday could not say what would happen with restrictions in the state in coming months.

“I would love to be able to confirm for you what we‘re going to be facing in October – we can’t know that,” he said.

“If we don’t drive down movement, if we simply won’t drive down the case numbers, we have absolutely zero chance of getting to the other side of this any time soon.

“It won’t be a six-week strategy, it will be much, much longer. We will be into 2021 with significant lockdowns in place. That’s not acceptable.”

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