Lessons from Melbourne in fighting Covid-19

I REFER to Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS’ letter “Ways to fight raging Covid-19 fire” (The Star, Jan 26; online at https://bit.ly/3pmrdgZ).

His five key measures to manage the crisis resonate with one of the success stories of Covid-19 containment.

On July 7,2020, when five million Melburnians were told to stay at home for six weeks, never did they think the “lockdown” would last for 111 days after achieving zero new cases.

Melburnians are residents of Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, which is also the capital of the state of Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the lockdown after the state saw 191 new cases. The lockdown – Victoria’s second – meant that people were only able to leave their homes for work, medical treatment, school, exercise and shopping for food and other necessities.

Melburnians duly endured a heavily-policed lockdown, which included a night-time curfew, a one-hour limit on outdoor exercise, and a ban on travelling more than 5km from their home.

It was one of the world’s longest and toughest lockdowns, but the outcome was extraordinary, to say the least. On Oct 26,2020, Melbourne reported no new daily cases for the first time since June. This was in stark contrast to the peak of 725 new cases on Aug 5, with dozens of deaths.

What’s the secret to Melbourne’s success?

Four “critical pillars” have been identified: border closure, testing, contact tracing and a compliant community that embraced the health protocols: observing the 3Ws and avoiding the 3Cs.

This is why I say that Dr Amar’s key measures resonate with Melbourne’s. And I believe he will agree that a compliant community is a must.

Now, it is also said that there is actually no secret to Melbourne’s success. It just takes a clear goal and the commitment to achieve it.

Melbourne’s lockdown measures may have been the toughest but they were not novel in terms of the containment strategy. So, if Melburnians can successfully contain the spread, so can we.

Malaysians boleh! We, too, can be a compliant community.

Success is about a compliant us and a steadfast other – the government. Thus, it will not help if the government does flip-flops on their measures.

To succeed like Melburnians and Melbourne, we need a compliant community and a steadfast government. A strict lockdown like Melbourne’s won’t be necessary.



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