Dictator Dan has no confidence in Victoria’s contact tracing

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ daily media briefing yesterday contained an interesting statement illustrating that he does not have confidence in Victoria’s contact tracing system.

When asked by a reporter whether Victoria would end its lockdown as scheduled at midnight on Wednesday, Andrews responded with the following:

“This [lockdown] comes about because you have got to assume that there are even a handful of cases that you don’t know about. And that if you are open, they won’t finish up with one or two close contacts, they will end up with hundreds of close contacts and they, in turn, hundreds of secondary contacts. It [lockdown] is effective in pulling these things up”.

This harkens back to the salient point made by Leigh Sales at Monday’s briefing:

“Premier, what do you say today to Victorians who, after 111 days of lockdown last year, might be asking how is it the case that their government still lacks such confidence in your hotel quarantine systems and your contact tracing, that you apparently can’t manage two to three cases of COVID a day in a population of about 6.3 million people?…

“They’ve been well identified and pinned down. Your hospitals aren’t in any danger of being overwhelmed. It is a small number of cases”.

It’s an important point because the NSW Government has successfully managed two virus outbreaks without the need for city or statewide lockdowns, as illustrated clearly in the next chart:

As shown above, NSW’s local active cases peaked at 298 during its Jul-Nov 2020 outbreak and at 200 cases during its Dec-Feb 2021 outbreak. Yet both times, the NSW Government put faith in its contract tracing systems to bring the virus under control, which it successfully achieved on both occasions.

Now compare this to Victoria where the state was plunged into another hard lockdown last Friday after only 12 local active cases were recorded – all contacts of the initial Holiday Inn breaches.

The data speaks for itself. The Victorian Government clearly has no faith in the state’s contact tracing system. Otherwise it would not have thrown Victorians into another lockdown over “two to three cases of COVID a day”.

With Victoria only having 16 local active cases as of Tuesday 16 February, there is simply no reason to keep the state locked down, other than government incompetence.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. You will make me call your
    Shame and remind you of Sept 2020
    When you shouted to all the world
    More lockdown, even to the tards on Skynews
    And we will never meet again
    Shed your middle ground and let’s get tarded

    • He was personally responsible for setting up Health in Victoria the way it is now- full of generalist public servants who make the decisions . He should go now.

    • The old adage about carelessness comes to mind.

      As the premier – the head of government – and especially after the earlier mistakes (in which he was very quick to eschew any responsibility for), it is, I would say, encumbent on him to ensure everything is locked down.

      This is moreso given he has been quite happy to claim Vic has the gold standard contact tracing / quarantine in place, despite this claim being contestable, at least if you’re in NSW or NT anyway.

  2. Isn’t very case so far linked back to the same cluster? In which case it’s not like they have mystery cases now.

    We even have to wear masks outdoors. It’s a bit silly.

  3. Tassie TomMEMBER

    In Andrews’ defence (I can’t believe I’m defending that turkey), NSW got a bit lucky in that the November outbreak started in the Northern Beaches of all places.

    They don’t call it the “Insular Peninsula” for nothing. The privileged residents of the Northern Beaches tend to keep to their own beautiful neighbourhood. Why wouldn’t they? Relatively speaking there’s very little traffic in and there’s very little traffic out.

    A hard lockdown of the Insular Peninsula for that particular outbreak was probably just as effective as a hard lockdown for the whole state would have been if this outbreak had been centred on Western Sydney or anywhere else in the state.

    • Exactly. NSW has had several scares but luck has been on the government’s side. Lets be frank – NSW is all about the economy first, and people second. The real reason NSW hasn’t gone into lockdown has nothing to do with the contract tracing system’s trust IMO as much as that’s the line they use in hindsight. Instead it is that they are happy for some virus to be in the community as long as it doesn’t affect them (i.e. their health system, their economy). Gladys has said it from the beginning – she isn’t willing to pay the price to eliminate the virus unlike what this site was saying earlier she should do and suppression is the strategy. At the time MB was against this position showing graphs of fast lockdowns meaning quicker recoveries – obviously months of lockdown have changed this position?

      Contract tracing is a weaker form of control than lockdown; and there’s always a lag with it for such a widespread virus. Gladys has been willing to gamble I believe because its the community paying the price for it, not her or her own vested interests and so far she’s been lucky. Dan wasn’t, and therefore is acting accordingly when future events hit. Not saying Dan is a good politician, but putting corrupt Gladys on a pedestal when all she was doing was serving her own self/party interests IMO says a lot.

      • just_the_pipMEMBER

        You can’t seriously believe it’s down to luck and not NSW’s clearly superior contact tracking and hotel quarantine. Laughable.
        Did they get ‘lucky’ when the Ruby Princess unleashed dozens of cases all over Sydney and they still managed to get it under control faster than VIC with no lockdown?

        • reusachtigeMEMBER

          There’s a lot of people who get jealous of NSW and Australia’s best city Sydney especially when we have proven the superiority of the Liberal Nationalist Party style of governance with Gladys at the helm.

        • I do. No one has actually articulated what makes NSW’s contract tracing any better than VIC’s. Or even better – how does contract tracing prevent spreads without some form of lockdown? By the time the test reads positive many people here in NSW have already been all over the place hopping around joint to joint and given COVID’s spread factor its not enough to lockdown that individual afterwards. That’s just the nature of COVID and testing. Testing is not a cure – it just reveals a problem, often when the virus has already entered its infectious phase and spread to other individuals beforehand.

          The one thing Sydney has for it which usually is a downside is that it is insular and tribal. Whether your in the Northern Beaches, The Shire, Eastern Suburbs, Penrith, etc most people are very localised – it it a city that discriminates by post code. That does help contain the spread somewhat but does punish the usual day trip regions.

          What you can’t argue with is that if VIC’s hotel quarantine system isn’t as good (topology, city design, skillsets, etc) then more lockdown’s must be necessary. 16 cases is a lot more than NSW’s cases even when their hotel quarantine breach happened over December. The lockdown in the Northern Beaches, not contact tracing, was what saved the day.

      • “NSW has had several scares but luck has been on the government’s side”.

        NSW has taken 60% of the nations international arrivals and managed two outbreaks without city-wide lockdowns.

        They must be the luckiest government in the world. Or maybe they are just good managers?

        “Contract tracing is a weaker form of control than lockdown”.

        No shit. But it’s also way less costly. The costs must be weighed against the benefits. Otherwise we’d never come out of lockdown just in case there is virus somewhere.

        • My belief, you can agree with me or not, is that localised lockdowns (particularly of the richer side of Sydney that like to travel) not contact tracing that did the job. I don’t know the topology of Melbourne that well as you do – would localised lockdown’s work there? Or is the city not as divided as Sydney is (i.e. the three cities the Greater Sydney Commission wants to form to segregate people even more by class)? Sydney is really 7 cities IMO, not one and it shows when you travel to other areas, when you apply for jobs, etc.

          You need more than contact tracing – in the end its just data after all. Some sort of lock down must follow it to correct the course. Anecdotally I knew people in Sydney not getting tested because they didn’t want to lockdown, even if they had the cold or whatever because they wanted to enjoy the “summer”. Testing numbers are also lower in NSW generally.

          Correlation is not causation so comparing results doesn’t mean good management, especially from what I’ve read there isn’t too many differences in how they are run. People keep putting faith without reason in contract tracing and wanting VIC to do the same without explaining how it will actually fix things. I suspect putting more money into contract tracing might have diminishing returns and not do what you think it does – a better quarantine system is necessary and hotels aren’t it. It seems people pin it to “good management” because despite her corruption the current Liberal government is popular. Whereas I pin it to other factors. What I’m saying is that it may not be possible to “do less” and get away with it in Melbourne as it is in Sydney. In which case maybe a lockdown is justified, hard as it may be.

      • Luck?
        Its not luck its just that the virus does not spread in NSW.
        Didn’t you hear Dictator Dan? Victoria is different from NSW. Apparently the virus spreads at light speed in Victoria.
        I simply cannot believe how many people still believe the crap coming out of dictator Dan’s mouth. The guy lies as much as Trump.

        • The sum, KI, The sum of those marginal differences times effort in whatever social/public/policy outcome it is you’re trying achieve. Those demographics are almost five years ago too, Low interest rates help a lot too.

    • Lockdown? NSW couldn’t even enforce mask wearing indoors and it caused a substantial cluster at a bottle shop a few days before Christmas. Only then when they realised there were hundreds of close contacts from that did they attempt to enforce masks. Service NSW and NSW health are structurally different to Vic health and it’s definitely providing an advantage. But my concern is eventually a UK variant might get into Western Sydney and the tracing capability may not be enough in that situation. Reality is the current hotel quarantine model is not sufficient to manage the risk, it’s just a ticking timebomb. There is definitely differing capabilities but also luck involved. And that is not adequate risk management, particular for what is now a long term issue not a temporary one. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone managing the strategy has any concept of understanding risk management. Even very very low risk leakage scenarios will play out if you pump enough people (hundreds of thousands now) through a system. The larger the number gets, the more low low risk leaks will occur. There’s a systemic issue with hotel quarantine due to the hotels themselves.

      • Even if you close the border completely to people sooner or later it will leak out from crew moving freight in and out of the country. We can’t keep it out forever.
        As you say, over time as more and more people travel in and out eventually a leak will occur.

        • I think we all have assumptions in our head that we take for granted. Like we need air travel as much as we do, or that flights “have to resume” in the way they did, etc. They don’t have to, or at least we could always change it to minimize the risk you mention from crew, etc by better quarantine systems. My belief is that the vaccine’s main benefit to the people driving it and why its happened so far is that COVID has been a big threat to globalisation and free people movement, of which I still believe the Western World, or at least its middle and lower classes, is a net loser from. If there is some lives saved to the community well that’s just a bonus.

          It would be cheaper, and less medically risky, to just impose remote quarantine facilities. It could of been done yesterday; a low tech way and arguably cheaper and more reliable way to solve COVID in Australia. But it will never happen because it threatens the business as usual ways of operating such as high immigration, high import, high debt, unlocalised economy.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      When Looking at Mark Latham’s recent Twitter rant, about some new mind warping GBLTI indoctrination program being rolled out in Pre Schools, I was struck by the number of comments, by many of what I would classify as Bogan wh!te Aussies, about how Islamic schools would not tolerate the imposition of having this gender bending shyte taught to their kids.
      I found the tone of of admiration and respect for islamic people’s commitment to traditional family values Interesting to hear From Latham’s followers.
      Had me thinking of the considerable number of young wh!te Aussies im seeing around my area who converting to islam!
      On of my 11 year old boys best mates is a Lebanese Australian, one of the best kids I know among this cohort of friends
      Though pretty “Aussieised” this kid often says to my boy that he should become a Musl!m like him.
      Having brought my kids up as strong Atheists (no entertainment of anything Supernatural at all) its pretty unlikely my kid will do so.
      But if “That” community is one of the blast bastion of traditional family values in our society It does makes me wonder how many “Privilaged Wh!te Australians” might be drawn into it.

  4. Not to defend the incompetent Victorian government and its failing public health system, but it’s important to note that demographics played a big part in NSW’s recent COVID ‘success’.

    If it had got into the more densly populated, ethnically diverse areas of Western Sydney, rather than the well healed and monocultural Northern Beaches, I doubt the contact tracing methods would have yielded the same success.

    As MB has constantly pointed out, Melbourne’s entire economy is built on the importation of cheap third world labour and this comes with major downsides.

    I’m not surprised Dopey Dan’s got no faith in the Victorian system because he’s a big part of it as are the Victorian ‘opposition’.

  5. A lot of it is down to luck. 8 out of 10 infected people don’t pass the virus on to others, 1 pass is on to a few and 1 is a superspreader. Is NSW has a superspreader attend a lot of indoor functions in the wrong suburbs they will be on all sorts.

    • The false negative test of the quarantine worker was really bad luck : they couldn’t figure out how people got infected in Coburg until that was sorted out.

    • Amazing amount of luck here in NSW. Taking most of the international arrivals and managing outbreaks with limited lockdown and contact tracing.
      And lucky people from the Northern Beaches don’t move around though confusingly at the time of that outbreak NSW Health did have an enormous list of places the infected had been all over Sydney.

  6. Leith and Leigh Sales are wrong about this one. Imposing the lock down does not imply that Dan thinks Vic’s contact tracing is rubbish. He is just following the advice from the contact tracers who identied two potential super-spreader events, and also consider the higher infectiousness of the new strain. Don’t read anything else into that – it does not imply that the contact tracing system is no good.

    Leigh Sales question also misunderstands the situation. When deciding whether to lock down, you don’t just look at the cases you already know about. It is the possibility of cases that you don’t know about that motivates the lockdown. And you don’t wait until your hospitals start filling up. By then it is far too late.

    • You can spin this anyway you want. But the empirical evidence does not lie. NSW has successfully managed two outbreaks without locking down while also taking 60% of the nation’s international arrivals. Victoria has taken a fraction of international arrivals, had multiple quarantine breaches, locked down for 115 days, and has 800-plus dead.

      Compare the pair…

      • NSW hasn’t dealt with a B117 breach yet. All the other states locked down when that variant jumped as its significantly more transmissable (50-75% more and more airbourne). When NSW have a B117 outbreak we’ll get a chacne to comapre the pair until then its apples and oranges.

        Victorias significant failure in June has dozens of mitigating circumstances based on class, job security, cultural factors, media and political bastardry all conspiring to reduce the effectiveness and importantly boldness of locking down early and applying evidence based measures. He didn’t and he paid for it.

        800 dead is on Colbecks head not Victorias. Again we harp on about Dan while completing ignoring the the last 4 years of inaction by the Feds in everything they are responsible for. Within days of establishing those homes were tombs Dan emptied the hospitals of nurses and cleaned up the Feds mess. Don’t understand what the Victorian government could have done to manage Aged care when they had no jurisdiction.

        Oh but they allowed it out. Yes they did but look at the media attitude to NSW policy vs Victoria. Go back through the Herald Sun pieces constantly berating every action or inaction. He was completely undermined in May and June and we all paid for that bastardry with 4 months of 4 walls.

        Start design and planning of national Quarantine centres in march 20. So the State measures organised in literally 3 days are used as a stopgap measure until purpose built facilities are used? crickets.
        Jobrorts? crickets
        Vaccine promised in 2020? crickets.

      • Arthur Schopenhauer

        If you asked the question ‘Why?’ rather than the standard blame shifting ‘Who?’, you might just get to ‘How?’.

        ‘Why’ were there 800 deaths of people living in Aged Care residences in Victoria?

        ‘Because, DAN!’, is a really idiotic response, and confirms my professional experience that the majority of very conventionally trained economists couldn’t think their way out of a wet paper bag.

        Do a bit of research Leith, you might be surprised 😮 at what you find.

      • Thanks for replying. I am not spinning anything, nor am I making any claims about how good or bad the Vic hotel quarantine is, or why the current breach occurred. All I am saying is that in the current situation when there has been a breach, the contact tracers identified some some potentially large spreading events and advised a lockdown. You can’t compare that situation to Sydney or anywhere else as the details are different, and you cannot imply that means Dan thinks the contract tracing is weak. You haven’t presented any evidence that in this particular situation the contact tracers have not done good job, or that locking down was the wrong thing to do. I am grateful for their caution, and I hope that we have just had a lucky escape.

  7. Winter Vitamin D deficiency kicks in below 37 degrees latitude
    Sydney is 34 deg S
    Melbourne is 38 deg S.
    Melbourne got over the autumn outbreak without lock downs. Then winter came.

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