Why VIC cases are stubbornly high
Victoria has recorded a record 725 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to Wednesday and for many it feels like a "punch in the stomach".
The state has seen increasingly harsh lockdowns including mandatory mask wearing and a curfew for Melbourne residents, so the big jump in cases can feel dispiriting.
But Epidemiology Chair at Deakin University, Professor Catherine Bennett, told news.com.au "don't be thrown" by the record number of cases.
She said measures like lockdown do stop infectious people from going to work or interacting with others, which would usually lead to new outbreaks.
"What we're doing as part of lockdown won't impact the daily numbers now but it does stop the next outbreak from starting," Prof Bennett said.
"It is going to take time for us to contain those larger outbreaks and it won't be until after these are contained that we will see change in daily reports."
Prof Bennett pointed to continuing high numbers of cases coming from coronavirus outbreaks, which was making it harder to see the improvements linked to the lockdowns and mask wearing.
"The thing that stands out to me when I look at all these numbers objectively, are the 249 new active aged care cases and another 164 that were linked cases," she said.
Among today's 725 cases, 164 were linked to outbreaks or complex cases, which appears to be a record.
In comparison, linked cases have hovered between 34 and 82 cases in the last couple of weeks, except for one day last week when 154 cases was recorded.
"Usually there have been about 50 linked cases a day, often they come in a batches from cluster settings and the results are published together," Prof Bennett said.
"But this jumped to 164. This tells us this is a spike due to linked cases pushing the numbers up above what we've had the last few days.
"Combined with the 250 active cases in aged care, it helps us to see how daily numbers can be driven by existing clusters."
Prof Bennett pointed out that as authorities follow up the close contacts of those in known clusters, there were bound to be more cases discovered.
"We have to be prepared to still see more fluctuations," she said.
"But if the new cases are linked to known clusters then that's telling us these are already at some level of containment."
Prof Bennett said improvements in new cases of community transmission were also hard to see because of the way reporting and testing happened.
"The measures are working but it's hard to see when we have a day of hard numbers," she said.
"It's frustrating because it was hoped masks would make a difference to daily numbers but the reality is this is still not visible.
"Unfortunately with 250 active cases linked to aged care, it's hard to see a reduction of 50 cases because people are wearing masks."
Of Wednesday's 725 cases, 561 remain under investigation.
Separately, authorities have now identified 1435 active cases linked to aged care, which is an increase of 249 cases since the day before.
Looking at the bigger picture, Prof Bennett said Victoria was still tracking down and the result was still part of the "flattened curve".
"Today' snumbers feel like a punch in the stomach but they don't change the trend," she said.
"A lot of the cases are linked to outbreaks, but the number has shocked us as it has reminded us that the coronavirus outbreak continues to be a big thing."
Originally published as Why VIC cases are stubbornly high