News / COVID-19

Brunswick records new COVID milestone of 20,000 cases

State MP Tim Read says more mask wearing is needed to halt transmission – but it should be voluntary

Photo: Shutterstock

Mark Phillips
Friday, June 17, 2022

BRUNSWICK has now recorded more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, the equivalent of two cases for every five residents. 

The 20,000th case for the suburbs of Brunswick, Brunswick West and Brunswick East was reported by the Victorian Health Department on Thursday. 

With dozens of new cases still being recorded each day, some health experts and epidemiologists are calling for mask wearing to become more common again. 

Brunswick MP Tim Read, who worked as a medical doctor before entering Parliament, is among them. 

Dr Read said while there were new vaccines in development, it would be some time before they were available in Australia and in the meantime more effort needed to be made to reduce community transmission. He said the state government should be encouraging mask wearing in most public settings. 

“We have got this very high level of community transmission and the government just isn’t talking about it any more,” he said. 

“[COVID] death levels are now so high that we’re seeing the equivalent of the annual road toll for the state in every two or three weeks so for the government to not remark on this and not have a conversation with the rest of us about what more we could be doing seems to me that they’re perhaps in denial.” 

On Friday, the total number of cases in the three suburbs was 20,140 since March 2020. In Brunswick, 9713 cases have been recorded; for Brunswick West, the total is 5243 and in Brunswick East it is 5184. 

Most of these cases have been recorded this year after state health officials decided to include the results of Rapid Antigen Tests taken at home alongside PCR tests conducted by medical workers. 

Although the number of active cases in the Brunswick area are down from its recent peak in late-May, dozens of new cases are being recorded each day. On Friday, 82 new cases were recorded for an active case load of 427. 

Vaccination levels in Brunswick and Coburg appear to have hit a ceiling of just under 80%. By the end of May, 79.2% of Brunswick and Coburg residents aged over 15 had received two doses and 77.6% were fully vaccinated with three shots. 

The area ranks 319th out of 334 regions around Australia for two doses, and is 63rd out of 66 areas in Victoria. 

The persistence of COVID-19, combined with the flu season this winter, has led some leading epidemiologists to call for stronger mask requirements indoors

Brunswick MP Tim Read

Dr Read said voluntary mask wearing should be encouraged rather than making it compulsory. 

“It’s better to keep mandates in reserve in case the situation ever gets really bad again,” he said. 

“I think we should try to do as much as we can with voluntary measures and I think there’s a lot of space between what we’re doing now and much higher level of compliance without needing mandates.  

“We might need to do it at some time but I think we should try to minimise mandates for now partly because the there isn’t much appetite in the community for that sort of thing now. 

“They only work with a fair amount of community buy in and consent, so we need to see what we can achieve without mandates and hopefully they won’t be required.” 

Dr Read said he was concerned about the pressure the high number of COVID cases across Victoria was putting on the health system, and he believed there needed to be an ongoing public health campaign about mask wearing similar to the “slip, slop, slap” campaign that helped reduce skin cancer. 

Read more:

Brunswick COVID cases surge past 500 again