Understandably, people in postcodes 3042 and 3032 have been anxious to know why we have been placed into very strict lockdown until at least 19 July* and possibly until 29 July.
(*The Order says 19 July, but the Premier has announced 29 July – so I guess it all depends if our numbers improve).
It’s happened suddenly and caught some by surprise. It’s been extremely hard for many families to have to cope with new rules again, especially while they apply to those of us inside lockdown, and not those outside. Businesses are also facing fresh hardship.
Hopefully this analysis will help explain the situation, even if it doesn’t change where we are right now.
Moonee Valley had been tracking well in terms of COVID-19 case numbers, until very recently.
Between 7 April and 15 June, we registered just two COVID-19 cases taking us from 36 to 38 cases. But then on 16 June, we were surprised by a case at Strathmore Primary School.
By 23 June, a week later, we had five active cases in the municipality: possibly a cluster in Strathmore, and a case at a childcare centre in Essendon.
In the next seven days, until 30 June, we registered 29 more cases – 18 of these in just four days from Friday to Monday.
As of 2 July, we have 80 cases in total and 32 active cases. We have doubled our accumulative total in just two short weeks.
Unfortunately there hasn’t been any data released indicating in which suburbs these cases are located. We can only presume they are mainly in the 3032 and 3042 postcodes – although it’s also fair to assume there are some in other suburbs as well.
We’ve had students and children test positive at five local schools and one childcare centre – not all of these in the lockdown zones.
Compared to other local government areas, Moonee Valley has fewer cases than Hume and Brimbank – we are ninth highest in total (on 2 July).
However, we have the fourth highest number of active cases and this has been our reality for a number of days.
For people living in 3032 and 3042, the change in numbers has been so rapid that the lockdowns came as a shock. There’s also some lack of clarity about whether there are any cases in Niddrie and Travancore – and whether there are many cases in Airport West. These figures have not been released.
The thresholds for lockdowns are quite low: postcodes (or suburbs, it isn’t clear) with a minimum of 5 cases and a rate of over 6 per 30,000 (20 per 100,000), within an LGA with twice the state rate.
However, on the day the lockdown was announced, Moonee Valley had a high rate of cases, and clearly, with 30 active cases, we were bound to have some pockets meeting these thresholds.
Step 1: MV as an LGA with 72 cases and 31 active cases
Step 2: Postcodes within MV – we don’t have breakdown
Step 3: 3032 and 3042 both had between 3:10,000 – 5:10,000 cases, and 5+
While both 3032 and 3042 have suburbs in Maribyrnong and Brimbank respectively, Moonee Valley itself had to have a high load of positive cases for step one.
Even if Flemington, Essendon, Moonee Ponds, Keilor East, Aberfeldie and Strathmore had a few cases each, postcodes 3032 and 3042 are large areas and so might have more easily met the minimum of 5 cases.
The actual numbers per suburb would be helpful, and we hope they are forthcoming at some point.
We can surmise that, for 3032 (where I live), there are between 9-15 cases as there are approximately 30,000 people living in 3032 (Ascot Vale 17,000, Travancore, 2000, Maribyrnong 11,000). Maribyrnong is in the LGA of the same name that currently has fewer cases than Moonee Valley – only 35 cases.
Importantly, however, as a municipality, we have a high number of active cases. Our numbers have accelerated rapidly and the cases are probably scattered around Moonee Valley, with moderate concentrations in 3032 and 3042.
The public health rationale in locking down some areas at this stage is to contain the spread and avoid more widespread lockdowns. For this to work, everyone inside the lockdown areas needs to stay put (as frustrating as this is).
Whether we should all be in lockdown might be a moot argument in a week’s time, because if the numbers don’t improve, the lockdowns may well extend further.
On Wednesday, there were 14 councils, without any lockdown areas, that registered between 1-3 cases. On Thursday, Melton, Melbourne and Wyndham all had high numbers of cases and, in my humble opinion, must be close to lockdown thresholds (though without suburb numbers it’s hard to know if these are concentrated in particular postcodes).
For now, all of Moonee Valley is at risk of seeing a further spread of COVID-19 and we can all help minimise further lockdowns by taking every possible precaution.
I’m in lockdown so am socially distancing by law. To avoid further lockdown, please social distance, get tested, stay home when sick, don’t hug your mates for now, wash hands, stay in fresh air, and postpone the parties until we can beat this. It’s everywhere.