The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has today annouced that Victorians will abandon a Zero Case policy for covid, instead working on surpressing outbreaks and raising vaccinations along the lines of the national opening plan of 70% and 80%, with it forecasted that 70% will be reached by the end of the month.
This comes as the preimer also annouced light easing of restrictions on friday while victoria recorded 120 cases yesterday its highest this year.
from abc news 1.09.2021
The majority of Victoria’s restrictions will stay in place until 70 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced.
- Victoria has recorded 120 new cases, its biggest daily rise in almost a year
- The government projects the 70 per cent threshold will be reached by late September
- Playgrounds will reopen on Friday, but only to children under 12 and with limits on parents, mask use and QR check-ins
Authorities had expressed optimism about the outbreak’s stability at the start of the week, but Mr Andrews said since then, a deterioration had led to changed public health advice.
The Premier said the state could no longer “hold out hope” that case numbers would fall and must instead focus on suppressing the outbreak’s growth while racing to reach higher vaccination coverage.
“We will not see these case numbers go down,” he said.
Mr Andrews confirmed the shift in approach meant Melburnians would remain under some form of lockdown for weeks.
“We were aiming to drive it down and have cases falling, it is now the advice of the experts that that is not possible, so now we have to contain the growth of cases and the speed at which they increase,” Mr Andrews said.
“And hopefully keep the number of people who are vaccinated ticking over faster than the number of cases. That is going to be challenging. It would be impossible if we opened up.”
He said if the state’s healthcare system was overwhelmed, it would compromise care for thousands of patients.
“Ultimately you run out of people,” he said.
“You can have all the machines you want, but machines don’t treat patients, people treat patients. And you just run out of them after a while.”
In a glimmer of hope for regional Victorians, the Premier said with the exception of Shepparton, where an outbreak is still growing, the regions could see some small changes next week.
“We do think we can have some positive news for regional Victoria next week,” he said.
But he emphasised the projected end to regional lockdown would not be a “full opening up” and would still involve “significant restrictions”.
Playgrounds will reopen with QR codes and age limits
There will be minimal easings on Friday, when playgrounds will reopen, but only for children under 12 with only one parent or carer.
The government said adults “should not remove their masks to eat or drink” and QR codes would be provided at playgrounds.
“In-home care — like babysitters — will also be expanded to school aged children but only if both parents are authorised workers,” Mr Andrews said.
Authorities anticipate reaching the 70 per cent first-dose threshold for Victorians aged 16 and older by around September 23.
After that threshold is reached, the 5-kilometre travel limit will expand to 10 kilometres and outdoor exercise will also be allowed for three hours with personal training permitted.
Construction will also be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity once 90 per cent of workers have had one jab.
From next Tuesday there will be priority vaccine program for year 12 students.
Mr Andrews said schools would this month reach out to families and students to coordinate local plans to get vaccinated in state hubs.
“It will be a localised arrangement and it will be best delivered by schools and the schools will contact students about how that will work for their year 12 group and indeed year 11s who are sitting exams as part of a year 12 subject,” he said.
Mr Andrews confirmed there would be no return to face-to-face learning in Melbourne for term 3, but said a return to classroom learning would be considered for the regions next week.
A business support package is expected to be announced in coming days.
‘Dim’ light at the end of the tunnel as state sees highest daily case rise this year
Victoria recorded 120 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, 64 of which have been linked to existing outbreaks.
It is the first time the state’s daily cases have been in the triple digits since 110 cases were detected on September 2 last year at the tail of the Victoria’s devastating second wave.
There were also two deaths that were reported late yesterday and included in today’s numbers.
COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said Tuesday was a “very sobering day” for the state in its battle against coronavirus.
He said one of the deaths was a woman in her 60s living in the Hume council area and was in her second week of infection.
Mr Weimar said she was being supported by a health unit before she died in her home.
The second death was a woman in her 40s from the Darebin council area.
Mr Andrews said only 20 of the latest cases interviewed by the midday press conference had been in quarantine during their infectious period.
He said there were 122 recent cases still under investigation by contact tracers.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the public health advice had changed due to the “reality of Delta”.
He said the state had to rapidly reach higher levels of vaccination to ensure infections plateaued before easing lockdown restrictions.
“We want to do it at a point where our health system is not overwhelmed, where we don’t have dozens and dozens of people dying in Victoria,” he said.
Professor Sutton acknowledged the “light at the end of the tunnel is too dim and the tunnel is too long, but it is a light at the end of the tunnel”.
He said today’s increase in cases was “much, much slower than it could have been otherwise but it is an increase and that’s why my advice has changed”.
“It’s a recognition of the reality of Delta and of the fact that despite all of these extraordinary efforts between contact-tracing and between millions of Victorians following the rules, we are still seeing a slow and steady increase,” he said.
The approach marks a shift from Professor Sutton’s assessment of the situation on Monday, when he said despite a “very challenging” situation, it was not impossible that the outbreak could be driven down.
But he noted at the time his health team would not pursue a goal of zero COVID with “absurd hope” if the numbers continued to climb.
Victorians urged to get vaccinated immediately
Victoria processed 56,501 test results on Tuesday, when 33,455 doses of vaccine were delivered at state-run sites.
The Premier stressed that there was still plenty of AstraZeneca vaccine available and urged all Victorians to book in immediately to secure the vaccine available to them to help drive down the outbreak.
“We have thrown everything at this, but it is now clear to us that we are not going to drive these numbers down, they’re instead going to increase,” he said.
“Now it’s up to us to make sure they don’t increase too fast and they don’t increase too much relative to the number of people who are getting vaccinated every single day, every single week.”