Allen Cheng, former Victoria’s deputy health official, reveals regrets about the coronavirus

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Victoria’s devastating second wave of Covid-19 might have looked very different if authorities had taken these two steps.

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Leaked documents have revealed a proposal to get Victoria out of phase four lockdown, but it won’t be anytime soon….

Hoping that Victoria's restrictions end soon?  Think again.

Leaked documents show a proposal to take Victoria out of phase four lockdown, but that won’t be anytime soon.

Former deputy chief of health, Allen Cheng, has revealed the two biggest virus complaints. Image: NCA NewsWire / Sarah MatraySource: News Corp Australia

The devastation from Victoria’s second Covid-19 wave could have been reduced if residents had started wearing masks earlier and plunged into phase 4 earlier, the former deputy state health official said.

Professor Allen Cheng made the explosive claim Wednesday in an interview with ABC’s Virginia Trioli after reflecting on his 12-month secondment to the Department of Health.

After finishing in the role last month, Professor Cheng said two of his biggest regrets during his stint were that he didn’t mandate masks earlier and didn’t begin the stage 4 restrictions in Victoria earlier.

« To be shut down much earlier than then…I think we might have done that differently last year, » he said.

« Around this time last year, we weren’t quite sure how effective masks were…but it’s clearly something that turned out to be really good and something we’re still using today. »

Victoria's former deputy chief of health, Allen Cheng, was done with the Ministry of Health at the end of June.  Image: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Matray

Victoria’s former deputy chief of health, Allen Cheng, was done with the Ministry of Health at the end of June. Image: NCA NewsWire / Sarah MatraySource: News Corp Australia

Professor Cheng said the decisions about the lockdown were « huge » and admitted they were difficult calls that he « would agonize over ».

He even revealed a conversation with Prime Minister Daniel Andrews just before Victoria was plunged into strict Phase 4 Covid-19 restrictions last August.

It was the month with the largest single-day spike of 725 cases in the state on August 5.

Melbourne faced some of the country's strictest virus restrictions in August 2020, with the number of infections soaring to more than 700.  Image: NCA NewsWire/David Crosling

Melbourne faced some of the country’s strictest virus restrictions in August 2020, with the number of infections soaring to more than 700. Image: NCA NewsWire/David CroslingSource: News Corp Australia

In addition to four reasons to leave the house, Melburnians were also given a curfew and ordered to stay home from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day unless they sought medical care, provide care or work.

« When I first had that conversation with the Prime Minister that we should probably go to Phase 4 restrictions or a little more than we were, he said, ‘That’s a billion dollar a week decision, are you really sure? ‘ » said Professor Cheng.

« I said, ‘I think I’ll go away and think about it a little more’ – I’m very aware that these were very difficult decisions to make and would impact 6.6 million people. »

Victoria is grappling with her fifth lockdown since the start of the pandemic.  Image: NCA NewsWire / Daniel Pockett

Victoria is struggling with her fifth lockdown since the start of the pandemic. Image: NCA NewsWire / Daniel PockettSource: News Corp Australia

Speaking about Victoria’s current outbreak and the fifth lockdown since the start of the pandemic, Professor Cheng said the state’s situation was « finely balanced ».

« The number of cases where we don’t know where they got the infections from is quite low, » he said.

« What we’re concerned about now is that the people who had an infection, some of them were contagious in the community, and we can put our arms around those cases. »

Professor Cheng has resumed his usual duties as a physician at Alfred Health and an academic at Monash University.

Victoria registered 22 new locally acquired infections on Wednesday.

Health authorities confirmed that all 22 cases were related to existing outbreaks resulting from NSW.

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