There are fears that COVID-19 is still silently spreading throughout Melbourne despite heavy restrictions enacted to stem the spread of the virus over recent weeks.

Infectious disease experts say that a decrease in the average number of daily tests could mean that health authorities are missing a number of positive cases already in the community.

Infectious disease physician Michelle Ananda-Rajah told The Age that low testing rates combined with a slow vaccine rollout are combining to turn the state into a “powder keg” that is ready to explode with new outbreaks.

“Right now, we are primed for a third wave because we are largely unvaccinated against the disease,” Dr Ananda-Rajah said.

“Winter is here and we know infections go up at this time. On top of this, we’ve got more transmissible variants of the virus in the mix.”

However, so-called “coronavirus fatigue” is feared to be a cause behind both a drop in testing numbers and a reticence toward prolonged restrictions such as mask-wearing.

On Wednesday, the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton flagged that Victorians’ fatigue toward coronavirus restrictions is now a factor in the public health response to the pandemic.

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“It’s really tough. This is 16 months into a pandemic. There is no question that people are over this,” Professor Sutton told reporters.

“We don’t want people to be fatigued by mask-wearing and basically not doing it.”

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