Victoria COVID cases grow by 1438; five deaths recorded

Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said authorities believed about a third of Thursday’s new cases were down to illegal gatherings, including AFL Grand Final parties, over Friday and Saturday.“As people have dropped their guard and decided it’s now as a grand final weekend, it’s a long weekend, we deserve a bit of a payback, we deserve a nicer time,” Mr Weimar said.“And that has now translated into at least 500 additional cases from what we would have expected to see.”Mr Andrews said he thought the trend of people gathering illegally and spreading COVID-19 had been there “for a while”, but the surge also may have had something to do with lockdown fatigue.Mr Weimar said 55 per cent of Victoria’s new cases were men and the location of cases was spread further than usual, with 29 per cent of the new cases in the east and south east.“Today is a significant setback in how we manage this outbreak,” he said. “If this trend is continued … we will jump to the worst case of all of those projections.“This outbreak still remains in our hands. We still have so much left to play for.”Mr Weimar urged anyone who had attended a social gathering on the weekend to get tested, whether or not they have become symptomatic.“If you’ve been mixing over the last few days, if you decided to go to a grand final party on Saturday, if you went to a barbecue on Friday, I’d like you to go and get tested,” Mr Weimar said.“You don’t know whether somebody there was harbouring the virus and we now have at least 500 people who we know have had that experience.“There’ll be many hundreds more who went through some kind of social activity.“We need to make sure that if you’re positive, that you can protect yourself and isolate yourself, and not spread it any further.”A third of the people who were reported as positive cases on Thursday had had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Seven per cent were fully vaccinated.There are 398 people currently in hospital with COVID-19 in Victoria. Of those, 83 are in intensive care, and 57 are on a ventilator.Thursday’s cases were recorded from more than 65,497 COVID-19 tests. More than 34,323 Victorians rolled up their sleeves on Wednesday to receive a dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Half of all Victorians aged 16 and up are expected to be fully vaccinated by tomorrow, after reaching the 80 per cent first dose mark in that age group today.As of October 4, the speed of the vaccine rollout will also increase, with the interval between Pfizer doses reduced back to three weeks. They had been extended to six weeks between doses to boost the number of people with at least one dose of vaccine.There are also 88,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine that will be redistributed to Victorian state-run clinics on Sunday to be put into arms “as fast as we possibly can”, Mr Andrews said.The four-week gap in Moderna doses means not all people who received the vaccine would be able to be fully vaccinated before October 26, when the 70 per cent double-dose milestone was expected to be met.The record numbers came as wastewater fragments were detected in regional parts of Victoria, including Cobram, Ballarat, Bendigo and Seymour. Health authorities said the fragments could be due to undiagnosed cases or a recovering case who is shedding the virus.Rules came into effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday that allow Victorians who have been in an extreme risk zone over the past 14 days to get a permit to return home if they have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.They must also test negative for the virus within 72 hours before entering the state.LoadingThe double-vaccination rule does not apply to people aged under 18 and those who have a medical exemption.Once Victorians are back in the state under an extreme risk permit, they have to go into quarantine for 14 days.They then have to get tested again for the virus within 72 hours of their arrival, and on day 13 of their quarantine.Under previous rules, Victorians in extreme risk zones were not allowed to obtain an extreme risk zone permit. They could only come into the state if they had an exemption or another valid permit like a specified workers’ permit.LoadingPeople who are not residents of Victoria are not eligible for extreme risk zone permits, as is also the case for people who have tested positive for COVID-19, or are close contacts of a positive case.Victorian health authorities identified a number of new close contact or tier-1 COVID-19 exposure sites late on Wednesday evening, including several childcare centres and multiple primary schools.Two childcare centres in Melbourne’s north west – Delahey Children’s Centre at Delahey, and Kensington Community Children’s Co-operative – were among them.Delahey’s was declared a tier-1 exposure site on Thursday, September 23 between 1pm and 6pm, while the co-operative was listed as tier 1 on the same date between 9am and 3.30pm.In the west, Aspire Childcare Atherstone Estate at Strathtulloh was listed as tier 1 on Monday, September 27 between 8.30am and 10.30am, while Truganina Early Learning Centre was a close contact site on Thursday, September 23 between 7am and 4.30pm.In the south east, Narre Kids Early Learning and Kinder at Narre Warren was listed as tier 1 on Monday, September 27 and on Tuesday, September 28 between 9am and 4.30pm, while St Margaret’s Primary School at Maribyrnong was declared a tier-1 exposure site on Thursday, September 23 between 8am and 4pm.A residential public housing tower at Flemington, 126 Racecourse Road, was also declared a tier-2 or casual contact exposure site.

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