The Australian state of Victoria was right to impose stricter lockdown measures during the current outbreak because community transmission of coronavirus has become more widespread, a public health expert has said.

Maximilian de Courten, an epidemiologist at the University of Victoria, said the outbreak was different to the first phase of infections earlier in the year.

In the early stages of the pandemic, most of the cases were imported from abroad with “very little spread of the virus in the community”, De Courten told the BBC.

“But now the virus is out in the community and the same lockdown measures from the earlier round were probably not strong enough,” the expert said.

He said a significant proportion of what he called “mystery cases” – those that cannot be traced back to work or home – had made matters worse this time.

“In comparison to the first wave in March and April, we had a fraction, about 10 to 15%, of cases where our trackers could not find out how they got infected in the community and those are the worrisome ones,” De Courten said.

It only takes a few untraceable cases to keep on igniting other outbreaks, he added.

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