Victoria has registered 779 new local Covid-19 cases as the state’s coronavirus outbreak spirals out of control.
There were two Covid-related deaths on Sunday, the Victorian health department has confirmed.
34,280 doses of vaccine were administered statewide on Saturday, with the new cases of the virus detected from 46,322 Covid tests.
It comes after Victorians were told mask mandates and restrictions on home gatherings would be a part of everyday life, even after 80 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, a health expert has warned.
Victoria’s health minister Martin Foley said on Saturday it would be a “challenge” to keep the number of cases low once the 80 percent double dose target has been reached.
Victoria registered 847 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, and the next set of restrictions is being eased a week later than planned after the state missed the vaccination deadline. Photo shows protesters marching during the ‘Millions March for Freedom’ rally at St Kilda Beach on Saturday
Facemasks and restrictions on the number of households in Victoria are predicted to remain even with a full 80 per cent vaccination coverage (pictured, two women walk in Melbourne’s St Kilda)
Foley has also admitted that the state is unlikely to hit 80 percent of the eligible population’s first dose of coverage by Sunday, as initially predicted, with a figure currently standing at 76.9 percent.
According to the state government, about 47 percent of Victorians are fully vaccinated.
In NSW, about 57.8 percent of people over 16 have now been fully vaccinated, while 84.7 percent have had at least one dose.
Residents will instead have to wait until next week for a small easing of lockdown rules, including ending the ban on low-risk sports such as golf and tennis.
Unvaccinated Victorians have been encouraged to get the shot as 600,000 doses per week, which will be available in primary care clinics from October.
Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett warned that strict restrictions may be needed, even at 80 percent, to prevent soaring transmission rates.
“The key is to get the case numbers down before we relax restrictions and that will take some work,” she told the… The age.
“We know the virus will be in the community, the question is how much can we live with it?”
She said mask mandates could still be enforced indoors even at that threshold, while limits for in-home gatherings could be enforced intermittently and relaxed to contain outbreaks.
Victorian Health Secretary Martin Foley said Victoria’s roadmap to freedom is not a ‘set and forget’ plan
Foley hinted that his administration could take that approach, noting that Victoria’s roadmap to freedom is not a “delayed and forgotten” plan.
‘It [the roadmap] has always been made on the basis that we would continue to assess where things were,” he said.
According to the roadmap, when the 80 percent single dose milestone is reached, Melburnians who are fully vaccinated can gather in groups of up to five and the city’s travel limit is extended from 10 km to 15 km.
But Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the original goal of the roadmap was “ambitious” and that he would consider a day-to-day “countdown” to future targets of 70 and 80 percent double dose based on updated data.
“We would expect that, certainly by mid to late next week, we will achieve that” [single dose target]Foley said Friday.
Vaccination rates were initially tipped at 80 percent in Victoria by Sept. 26 – but the state has fallen short of that target (pictured, testing in Ballarat, in regional Victoria this week)
‘These forecasts bounce around based on all kinds of measures. Let’s all redouble our efforts this weekend.”
There are more than 600 current exposure sites in Victoria, including in the regional towns of Wodonga, Warrnambool, Bendigo and Shepparton.
Jeroen Weimar, Victoria’s Covid-19 test chief, said that while contact tracers in regional Victoria control the ring of containment, contact tracers in urban areas target “the highest risk settings”.
“We get to the heart of the matter faster by focusing on those high-risk primary close contacts and focusing on those high-risk exposure sites,” he said.
With a predicted increase in the number of cases looming, 321 people are currently in hospitals in Victoria after testing positive for Covid-19.
Health authorities said most recent cases were reported in homes and social settings, with most social interactions being illegal during the lockdown.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the original roadmap goal was “ambitious” and that he would consider a day-to-day “countdown” to future targets of 70 and 80 percent double dose based on updated data.