Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy says Australia has been “lucky” in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, with no uptick in cases linked to the rallies.
But he said the absence of a linked outbreak two weeks after the events could send a dangerous message to the public.
“We probably were lucky to have not seen major transmission of any of these events,” he said.
“It does send a very difficult message to the rest of the community who are abiding by all of the restrictions and the density rules to see people gathering in large numbers.”
It is understood four people who attended the Melbourne rally tested positive to COVID-19 in the days after the June 6 protests, one of whom became infectious within 24 hours of attending the rally.
The second case was confirmed on June 14, a third on June 18 and a fourth who attended the protest but is not thought to have caught the virus there as they were a close contact of a H&M staff member where there has been a confirmed outbreak.
Professor Murphy said the outbreak in Victoria was “concerning” and he understood the caution of other States, including WA, to reopen borders.
“Their caution at the moment is understandable and I understand their anxiety,” he said.
“I do understand that big concern about what’s happened over the last weekend and I think they (States) will watch what’s the situation but it’s a matter for them.”
He confirmed the Victorian health authorities were tracing “hundreds” of contacts of infected cases, but revealed there was no specific definition or threshold for what would constitute a second wave of COVID-19.
“There is no definite definition of a second wave,” he said.
Professor Murphy said New Zealand would be “watching” Australia’s outbreaks in their consideration of a travel bubble.
“The New Zealand authorities would certainly be concerned about that now and will be watching that,” he said.
“They made no decision to proceed with that (bubble) and we’re working through everything.”
Professor Murphy revealed the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee was reviewing the national strategy of hotel quarantine over coming weeks, in the wake of a “small number of breaches” in various States.