InQueensland

NEWS •⁠ POLITICS •⁠ BUSINESS •⁠ CULTURE

Get InQueensland in your inbox Subscribe

Another seven days of lockdown misery as Victoria 'drains the swamp'

News

Melbourne’s lockdown will be extended for another week as authorities remain concerned about the transmission of the Indian variant of COVID-19 between strangers.

Print article

Acting Premier James Merlino on Wednesday confirmed Greater Melbourne will remain in lockdown for seven more days.

But restrictions are poised to ease in regional Victoria from 11.59pm on Thursday night.

Melbourne residents will continue to have only five reasons to leave home: to shop for food and essential items, to provide or receive care, for exercise, work or study, or to get vaccinated.

The five-kilometre travel limit for exercise and shopping, and compulsory wearing of masks both indoors and outdoors, will also remain in place.

However, travel restrictions in regional Victoria will be lifted, as will the five reasons for leaving home.

The state government will also extend its support for business, with an extra $209 million in grants.

The “circuit-breaker” lockdown was meant to end at 11.59pm on Thursday.

Victoria recorded six new locally acquired cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the latest outbreak to 60 active infections.

Of the five new cases, one is a person who travelled to NSW while potentially infectious.

There are now 4800 close contacts self-isolating as part of the outbreak and more than 350 exposure sites across the state, including country petrol stations in Euroa, Glenrowan and Wallan.

In the 24 hours to midnight, 51,033 people were tested for COVID-19 and 20,585 were vaccinated.

Meanwhile, aged care and disability workers in Victoria will be able to jump the queue at 10 vaccination centres across the state from Wednesday as part of a five-day jab blitz.

Express lanes exclusively for aged care and disability staff will open from 9am to 4pm, with workers needing to show proof of employment.

It follows three positive COVID-19 cases linked to Arcare Maidstone aged care facility, which have exposed gaps in private aged care vaccinations among workers and residents.

Testing numbers continue to be high, with 51,033 in the 24 hours to midnight, as well as 20,585 vaccine doses.

State government and health officials reportedly discussed options into the night as they consider extending the seven-day lockdown, which is due to end on Thursday.

There are also growing calls to ease restrictions on regional areas.

Alarm bells are ringing after a newly identified COVID-19 case travelled between Victoria and NSW and evidence of “stranger-to-stranger” transmission mounted.

The number of exposure sites connected to the outbreak has reached 351 and includes country petrol stations in Wallan, Euroa and Glenrowan.

COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar said there were four to five instances in the state’s latest 54-case outbreak of people contracting the virus from “fleeting contact”.

“They do not know each other’s names and that is very different from what we have seen before,” Weimar told reporters on Tuesday.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the Indian variant’s heightened infectiousness and faster spread would factor into the decision to extend the lockdown.

“That is one of a range of pieces of evidence the chief health officer (Brett Sutton) and his team will weigh carefully,” he said.

Professor Sutton’s public health team was strongly leaning toward recommending a lockdown extension, according to media reports, as senior government ministers met to receive a high-level briefing on Tuesday night.

A state government spokeswoman declined to confirm details to AAP but a final call could be ticked off as early as Wednesday morning.

The concerning spread of the Indian variant has also prompted authorities to encourage visitors to 14 shopping hubs across Melbourne over the past two weeks to come forward for testing.

“We are now keen to start to drain the swamp to see what else is out there,” Weimar said.

“Is there anybody else out there we haven’t caught? Is there anybody else not caught by exposure sites?”

There are now 4800 primary close contacts, with 75 per cent of those returning a negative test.

 

 

 

 

It comes as Victorian aged care and disability workers will be able to jump the queue at 10 vaccination centres across the state from Wednesday as part of a five-day jab blitz.

Express lanes exclusively for aged care and disability staff will open from 9am to 4pm, with workers needing to show proof of employment.

It follows the three-case Arcare Maidstone outbreak, now genomically linked to a South Australian hotel quarantine leak, exposing gaps in private aged care vaccinations among workers and residents.

In Senate estimates on Tuesday, it emerged that less than 10 per cent of nursing home staff across Australia have been vaccinated through federal government visits.

More News stories

Loading next article