Victoria records 567 new virus cases as roadmap to freedom unveiled

Victoria has recorded 567 new local COVID-19 cases as the state’s roadmap to freedom released yesterday left many feeling “despondent”.

Today’s count is the state’s highest COVID-19 daily case number this year.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the state’s one new death was a woman in her 70s from Moreland. 

Degraves Street is deserted in Melbourne during coroanvirus lockdowns. (Getty)

There are 209 Victorians in hospital, including 59 in intensive care and 40 on a ventilator. 

Of the people in hospital, only three people were fully vaccinated.

There were 39,939 vaccine doses administered and 50,915 tests conducted.

Vaccine plea after Pfizer supply issues

Mr Andrews has implored people to get the vaccines on offer following news of Pfizer supply issues in October. 

The Moderna vaccine is available from this week, with Mr Andrews confirming there were hundreds and thousands of doses available at pharmacies. 

There will be 440 Victorian pharmacies receiving the vaccine this week. 

People aged 12 to 59 will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

“Everyone knows their community pharmacist, everyone has been to the pharmacist, they are trusted and people of care and compassion and highly skilled,” Mr Andrews said.

“They are the perfect platform to add to GPs and state hubs.”

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (AP)

Victoria’s COVID-19 case breakdown

Of Victoria’s 567 new COVID-19 cases, 87 per cent are located in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne. They include:

  • 357 in the northern suburbs, including Craigieburn, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows
  • 137 cases in the western suburbs, including Tarneit, Truganina. Altona North
  • 45 cases in the south-east, including Dandenong, Rowville, Pakenham
  • 12 cases in the east, including Doncaster, Ringwood North

In regional Victoria, there have been 14 new cases of COVID-19 recorded including:

  • One case in Mount Alexander
  • Five cases in Ballarat
  • Two cases in Moorabool
  • Three cases in Mitchell Shire
  • One case in Moira
  • One case in South Gippsland
  • One case in Macedon Ranges

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said household transmission continued to be an issue.

“That household transmission picture is very strong and within households continues to be very strong,” Mr Weimar said.

A construction site in Spotswood remains an exposure site of concern, with five cases emerging over the past few days.

Two significant rail construction sites, one in Gannawarra at Cannie and another in Lilydale, is also of concern.

Lockdown roadmap ‘despondency’

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor this morning said a planned roadmap out of lockdown has seen many react with “despondency”, feeling the announcement doesn’t go far enough.
The four-step plan hinges on vaccination rates, with Melburnians able to participate in outdoor recreational activities like golf and cricket once Victoria hits the milestone of 80 per cent of the eligible population receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

That milestone is expected to be reached about September 26.

A crowded Edinburgh Gardens, Fitzroy , Melbourne.
A crowded Edinburgh Gardens, Fitzroy in Melbourne. (Photograph by Chris Hopkins)

When 70 per cent of the eligible population had had their second dose, which is expected to be October 26, lockdown will end.

But the roadmap has been criticised for being too cautious, particularly businesses facing the prospect of several more weeks of closure.

“The immediate response has been really despondency,” Sally Capp told Today.

“People were hoping for much bigger steps forward and these have really been baby steps.”

Melbourne is due to reach 230 days in lockdown by the time the restrictions are lifted.

“Unfortunately, the baby steps forward mean that we will definitely be the city that’s had the most lockdown days in the world; that even as we start to reopen, those steps are very incremental when people were hoping to step more confidently into the future,” Ms Capp said.

“I think because Victorians have been so good, so compliant, so respectful of the rules, they’re wanting something back from the state government to recognise that effort, and it isn’t really demonstrated in these first two steps.”

Mr Andrews defended the state’s roadmap to freedom today, adding it would be beneficial to witness how New South Wales goes opening up earlier.

The premier said the state’s roadmap could potentially be sped up if NSW proved it could cope with its reopening plan.

“This is a balancing act,” he said.

“This is a race to get vaccinated. It cannot be a race to open up or we will finish up overwhelming our hospital system.”

Vaccine rates in Melbourne are helping to see the end of tough lockdowns across the city. (Paul Jeffers/The Age)

Australia’s former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said the modelling from the Burnett Institute, that informed the roadmap, was “a little bit overcautious”.

“I think any road map that shows us a way where these restrictions are going to be lifted is welcome,” Dr Coatsworth told Today.

“There’s a case to be made that the modelling is a little bit overcautious, a little bit overrepresenting the likely impact on the Victorian health system.

“When you look at most models around the world – and we have real-life examples of this in the United Kingdom – they show a certain picture which is doom and gloom and the reality is substantially less.

“We have a real-life example of that in NSW, where the Burnet Institute predicted far worse than is going on in NSW at the moment.

“I think Victorians have an advantage here which is to see what happens with NSW and adjust policy accordingly. They are looking at what’s going on in real life in NSW and hopefully that will show a pretty optimistic spring and summer for NSW and the rest of Australia.”

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