While COVID-19 restrictions begin to relax across Australia, warnings are being sounded about a possible resurgence of cases – a so-called second wave.To understand exactly what a second wave of COVID-19 might look like and the lessons we can learn from around the world, we caught up with Dr Chris Smith, consultant virologist at Cambridge University, founder of the Naked Scientists podcast and Sir Walter Murdoch Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Murdoch University.
What we’re probably going to see is not so much a wave as a series of little ripples.”Lockdown measures in countries across the world have helped to break the chain of transmission. But the virus hasn’t gone away, and populations remain susceptible to it.
“We’re going to see localised outbreaks in various places which are pounced on fairly promptly by testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine of cases to curtail those spreads,” said Dr Smith.
Complacency, Dr Smith explains, is one of the biggest dangers in a resurgence of cases, relaxing the measures that have defended us against the virus too soon.
“Until we clean up the entire world, there’s no point in just brushing the dirt out of our own backyard into the street, because the wind will blow it straight back in again.”
“Until we have a vaccine or until we have widescale immunity, we’re going to have to have some kind of measures in place to stop its spread.”
There are lessons we can take from the world’s experiences so far.
“Having good health infrastructure and good testing facilities really makes a difference. If you can screen people and you can screen them in a fast, responsive and agile way, feed that information back to them and then do isolation of appropriate cases and their contacts you have got a chance to keep a lid on this.”