Victoria’s chief health officer has urged more people to get vaccinated in order to hold back the “tsunami” of potential cases.
The state recorded 190 new cases on Saturday, with 103 linked to other known cases.
This figure was down from the 208 cases reported on Friday, which was the highest number since August 22.
State-run clinics administered 35,464 vaccines on Friday – the second-most on record.
But Professor Brett Sutton said about 25,000 AstraZeneca vaccination bookings remained available over the next week.
“We know people are more than fed up. They are absolutely frustrated and challenged by the lockdown that’s gone on for weeks,” he told reporters.
“There’s no question that it’s hard, (but) the alternative is too awful to contemplate; tens of thousands of cases could be our reality if we don’t maintain those really tricky constraints on our life.
“We’ve held back a tsunami of cases for 20 months … we’ve got maybe the biggest challenge we’ve faced, but we’ve got a proper pathway out of here with vaccination.”
There are 76 people with COVID-19 in Victorian hospitals, including 23 in intensive care.
None of those people have been fully vaccinated.
Prof Sutton said Victoria could reach a “plateau” if vaccination rates stayed high and virus cases stayed under control.
“That is our opportunity and we have to grab it with both hands,” he said.
“So hold the line in these last weeks and months until we get the high vaccination coverage.”
Meanwhile, Victorian businesses struggling amid extended COVID lockdowns will share in more than $2.3 billion of government support.
The Victorian government will split $2.34 billion in funding with the federal government to support more than 175,000 businesses over the next four weeks.
Most of the payments will be automatically deposited into the businesses’ bank accounts.