Melbourne's Federal Health Minister says the city's lockdown is now even harsher than the one enforced in Wuhan, the original epicentre of coronavirus.
Victoria entered the state's latest lockdown in early August which was supposed to last for six weeks until September 13, but on Sunday Premier Daniel Andrews announced it will be extended until September 27.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told ABC News on Tuesday Victoria should adopt a more ambitious target to get the state back to normal, news.com.au reported.
"We want Victorians to be able to open their businesses safely, in a staged way, to return to life and to be free of a curfew which has, as you know…just profound mental health consequences," Hunt said.
"This situation is longer than Wuhan. Melbourne's lockdown is four weeks longer than Wuhan. I am sure we can do better."
He later told the Today Show the federal government would back the decisions about COVID-19 restrictions but said locking residents down was not the best way to solve the outbreak.
"We will continue to support Victoria and Victorians, whether it is the vaccine as the first line of defence, contact tracing as a very important second line, [but] the last thing you do is you lock people in their homes," Hunt said.
"I think Wuhan was under lockdown for two and a half months. Believe it or not, Melbourne will be under lockdown for three-and-a-half months.
"I think that will astonish people when they see that comparison."
On Saturday the Australian government released modelling by experts at Melbourne University and the University of New England on whether case numbers would continue to drop once restrictions ease.
Victoria's average daily cases number was 84 last week and the modelling predicted there will still be an average of 60 daily cases by mid-September, and daily cases won't dip below 20 until late October.
Hunt told Today the federal government is still seeking information regarding the modelling.
"We were given the high-level modelling and the best advice I had last night from the Department of Health was that they hadn't received the underlying data and assumptions," Hunt said.
"I'm sure that will be provided. We would like it to be provided at the earliest possible time. We will continue to work constructively."