Victoria has recorded no new local COVID-19 cases with the state’s health minister saying the numbers give “increasing confidence” to authorities.
There were zero new local or overseas-acquired cases uncovered on Friday from more than 17,700 tests conducted, as Victorians begin the first weekend since the end of their third lockdown.
Just 25 active cases remain in the state, with one person in hospital.
Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters on Saturday that another day of no cases gave health authorities confidence. They will next Friday consider the further easing of restrictions.
And while the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport cluster was “far from being over,” the numbers indicated it was “increasingly under control”.
“We are still approaching that outbreak with the utmost vigilance and caution, and we are still prepared for the possibility of more locally-acquired cases,” Mr Foley said.
“The numbers are positive and are reinforcing that we are getting on top of this, but it’s not over until we get out the other side of the day 11 and day 14 testing of those 3000 people.”
A family of three on Thursday tested positive, more than a week after two of them stayed at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport.
Mr Foley on Friday confirmed one of the parents and child stayed at the quarantine hotel after returning from overseas earlier this month.
The whole family began isolating at home on 7 February after it was revealed a staff member at the hotel contracted the virus.
A total of 22 cases have been traced back to another family of three staying on the third floor of the Holiday Inn at the same time. They had contracted the highly-infectious UK strain of the virus overseas.
Authorities believe the outbreak began when one of the family members used a nebuliser medical device that caused the virus to spread through the air.
Fears it would spread into the community led to a five-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown, which ended on Thursday.
There are still some restrictions in place for Victoria including mask wearing indoors and limits of five visitors per household.
The health minister also confirmed the Victorian government is yet to send an invoice to thousands of returned travellers who owe money in unpaid hotel quarantine accommodation fees.
“You don’t want to be sending out thousands of dollars worth of invoices on Christmas and the new year,” the minister said.
“Victorians who have been hotel quarantining understood the arrangements.”
It comes after Austin Health, Monash Health and Western Health hospitals were chosen to distribute Victoria’s first doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Mr Foley said workers who are most likely to come into direct contact with COVID-positive people will be first in line for the jab.
This includes hotel quarantine workers, airport and port workers, high-risk frontline health staff and aged care staff and residents.
The federal government has allocated 12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Victoria in the first week of the program.
“People will over time see that the vaccine is working, that it’s protecting individuals, that we’re not seeing issues of quality or safety and there will be increasing confidence,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters.
Six other hospitals will also become vaccination hubs as more jabs become available. They are Albury-Wodonga Health, Ballarat Health, Barwon Health, Bendigo Health, Goulburn Valley Health and Latrobe Health.
Professor Sutton also warned there may be more cases from the Holiday Inn cluster and said authorities will examine the speed with which the vaccine can be rolled out before easing restrictions completely.
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