Vic on track despite record COVID-19 tally

Victoria is “on track” to ease restrictions as planned despite recording the nation’s highest daily number of new COVID-19 infections. 

There were 1763 new locally acquired cases and four deaths; a man in his 80s from the local government area of Whittlesea, a woman in her 70s from Hume, a man in his 60s from Whitehorse and a woman in her 60s from Banyule.

The deaths take the toll from the latest outbreak to 57, while the number of active infections in the state has soared to 14,368.

Tuesday’s tally is the highest recorded in any Australian state or territory since the start of the pandemic, surpassing NSW’s peak of 1599 local cases on September 11.

Despite the spike in infections, Premier Daniel Andrews said he was committed to ending lockdown when 70 per cent of Victorians aged above 16 are fully vaccinated against the virus. Further restrictions are set to ease at the 80 per cent mark. 

About 83 per cent of Victorians have received their first jab, while almost 54 per cent are double-vaccinated. 

The government expects the 70 per cent double-dose target will be met about October 26 and 80 per cent about November 5. 

“We are on track to meet the targets. We may be ahead of schedule but I don’t want any sense of complacency to creep in,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

“At this stage, I’ve got no advice that we have to alter anything on the roadmap. I want to try to give people as much freedom as fast as I can, as safe as possible.”

To help reach vaccination targets, the government will target 27 suburbs with under 75 per cent vaccination coverage including Campbellfield, Dandenong, Deer Park, Frankston North, Footscray, St Kilda and Kensington. 

Health department deputy secretary Kate Matson said vaccination was helping to stabilise case numbers in Melbourne’s north and west, though the areas still accounted for 681 and 514 of the new infections respectively.

In the southeast, there were 370 new cases including 131 in Casey.

“This rate has tripled and is showing the largest growth in Melbourne,” Ms Matson said. 

“As we’ve said before, COVID is around everywhere in metropolitan Melbourne. Please do act as if it is.” 

There are 517 Victorians in hospital battling the virus, up 19 from Monday, with 101 people in ICU and 66 requiring a ventilator.

Of those in hospital, 66 per cent were unvaccinated, 28 per cent had one dose and six per cent were fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the City of Latrobe, which encompasses the Gippsland towns of Traralgon, Morwell and Moe, will emerge from lockdown at 11.59pm on Tuesday.

The region was plunged into a seven-day lockdown last week after an AFL grand final weekend party led to the widespread transmission of the virus. 

Vaccination coverage has since grown in the region by six per cent and most cases have been linked.

Construction workers were also allowed to return to sites on Tuesday after a two-week shutdown of the industry in Melbourne and some regions. 

All on-site workers must now have at least their first vaccine dose and be fully vaccinated by November 13, while operators need to formally declare their site complies with the new industry directions. 

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said 99 per cent of workers on the Metro Tunnel have had their first jab along with 95 per cent of those at level crossing removal sites.

The overall vaccination coverage of the entire construction workforce remains unknown, but Ms Allan says data will be collected in coming days. 


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