Victorian construction site blitz, warning on ‘tea room danger’

“What’s become clear to us is that the construction industry remains a major source of transmission,” Mr Pallas said.

“The construction industry is young, it’s mobile as a workforce, they often visit multiple sites in any given week, and they return home to all areas of metropolitan Melbourne.”

Victorian health authorities say that tea rooms are now “probably the most dangerous place” for COVID-19 transmission, after a number of cases spread in the break room in construction and transport.

COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said he had seen a number of cases out of tea rooms used by permitted workers as it was the place where people mix and do not wear masks.

There are now five cases connected to a V/Line cluster – with transmission in the train driver’s break room – which has shuttered the state’s regional train network.

“Transmission appears to be happening in tea rooms – it’s where we probably drop our guard the most and it’s where we physically drop our masks to eat and drink,” he said.

“It is also where we see people from different shifts and different workplace bubbles still interacting with each other.

“Tea rooms are not safe places in fact for many of us at work, they’re probably now the most dangerous place.”

Cases spike as childcare centres added to exposure list

Earlier Victoria recorded 473 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday as four early learning centres across Melbourne were declared high-risk exposure sites.

Just 202 of the new locally acquired cases have been connected to the current outbreak, according to a Department of Health statement released on Twitter.

There were 44,758 vaccine doses administered in Victoria on Sunday, including 30,032 at state-run clinics, with more than 49,000 test results returned. Victoria now has 3507 active cases of the virus.

There are now 157 people in Victorian hospitals with COVID-19, with 38 people in intensive care. There are 26 people on ventilators.

Almost 90 per cent of those in hospital are completely unvaccinated, while 11 per cent had received one vaccine dose.

Health authorities have listed four childcare centres as tier-1 exposure sites, meaning children, staff and parents who visited the sites will need to isolate for 14 days.

Little Learners Early Education & Kindergarten in South Morang, in Melbourne’s north-east, is listed as an exposure site across various times on September 2, 3 and 6.

Ilim Learning Sanctuary Glenroy in the northern suburbs was visited by a positive case on September 3, and then on consecutive days between September 6 and September 8.

Truganina’s Yara Childcare Centre is listed as an exposure site between September 1 and September 3, and again on September 6 and 7, while the St Catherines Early Learning in Toorak is listed as a tier-1 site on September 6.

Mr Weimar said the state had recorded its highest ever weekend of vaccination, with 66,500 doses completed at state-run hubs.

He said 338 cases were reported in the northern suburbs, with 97 cases reported in western suburbs like Truganina and Altona North.

Mr Weimar said there were six new regional cases – three in Mildura who are primary close contacts, and three in Geelong who are also primary close contacts.

A Melbourne resident who works at a Ballarat residential disability site in Ballarat has also tested positive. They were infectious on September 9 and 10 when they worked an overnight shift.

The disability worker has 10 primary close contacts, Mr Weimar confirmed. He warned authorised workers going into regional Victoria, which is not locked down, to be “very, very careful”.

“As we’ve seen with the case of our Ballarat worker, the potential for you to be taking the infection from Melbourne into regional Victoria is significant, it’s very real, and it will be down to the strength of the workplace procedures and how you conduct yourself in regional Victoria as to whether you pass it on to other people.”

Children aged 12 to 15 eligible for Pfizer

In Victoria, children aged 12 to 15 years will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 from Monday.

Infectious diseases physician Associate Professor Paul Griffin said new data from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance noted 2 per cent of children who catch COVID-19 are hospitalised, so it’s still “really important to protect our children so they don’t get unwell”.

“We did do the clinical trials and those younger children last, not because we thought the vaccine wasn’t going to work or wasn’t going to be safe, that’s just the natural progression of that clinical trials,” he told 3AW Breakfast.

“There is great data showing these vaccines work, even down as young as six months of age now. So, it won’t be long, I think, and most countries will include children in their strategies.”

Victoria on track to reach 70 per cent first-dose target this week

Victoria is on track to have 70 per cent of people aged over 16 having immunised with a single dose by Friday, almost one week earlier than the state government’s original estimate.

The pace of the vaccine rollout has increased in Victoria over the past few weeks, and about 47,000 people a day on average received their first dose over the past week.

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This means the state will likely reach its 70 per cent target on September 17. Back when Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the target on September 1, the state was on track to reach the milestone on September 23.

By Sunday, 66.82 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 had received one vaccine dose, while 40.95 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Once the 70 per cent first-dose target is met, the five kilometre movement limit will be extended to 10 kilometres and an extra hour of exercise will be permitted each day.

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely said NSW and Victoria could tolerate up to 2000 cases a day “but not comfortably”, and it was important that the states did not go over that number.

“I think we might need to pivot to a different way of thinking about this and actually start thinking about what is our ceiling,” he told the ABC.

“We need to start thinking about the headroom we’ve got … Any alterations or openings up that we want to do – and that’s going to be the tricky part – is going to require clarity and honesty from politicians that when they open up, we’ll have to monitor and we may need to retreat, as we start threatening that limit.

“You want to open up with the numbers as low as possible, and going down, because if you open up when the numbers say going for 1000 are still going up very fast, it’s not a good scenario to be in.”

Victoria’s current Reff rate – a measure of how many people an infected person will pass the virus on to – is 1.7.

Professor Blakely said mobility data showed there was more movement in Victoria’s current lockdown than there had been previously.

“There’s fatigue, and on your hour or two of exercise each day, you only need to walk around to see the number of people hanging outside cafes chatting to their mates and jabbering in parks,” he said.

“I don’t wish to be critical, because as human beings, we crave that social connectedness. I think we are all over lockdown here in Victoria, so it’s been hard to maintain compliance of the public health orders basically.”

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