Australia

Victoria records five more local COVID-19 cases as state enters day two of lockdown

Victoria has recorded five new local cases of COVID-19 as the state enters its second day of lockdown and authorities continue scrambling to contain an extra-infectious variant of the virus.

In addition to the new local cases, two extra infections were recorded in hotel quarantine.

Friday’s caseload came from 56,624 tests and brought the number of active infections in the state to 45. The latest cluster has grown to 35 cases.

It’s the second day in a row of lower case and higher testing numbers, after 47,462 tests on Thursday revealed four new local infections.

Vaccination rates have also increased, with 21,626 doses administered on Friday compared to 17,223 on Thursday.

Victoria’s mass vaccination centres began administering Pfizer shots for those aged 40 to 49 on Friday.

Late on Friday, the list of exposure sites had grown to 150, including a flu vaccination centre in the suburb of Preston.

More than 15,000 primary and secondary contacts have been told to self-isolate after coming into contact with a COVID case.

Victorians are now in their fourth lockdown since the start of the pandemic and can only leave home for five reasons: to shop for food and essential items, to provide or receive care, for exercise, work or study, or to get vaccinated.

Acting Premier James Merlino has said the federal government is to blame for the state’s outbreak, pinning it on the sluggish vaccine rollout and failures in hotel quarantine.

The federal opposition has also seized on comments from Prime Minister Scott Morrison that getting Australians inoculated was not a “race”.

On Saturday, federal Liberal MP Jason Falinski defended the rollout, saying it must be done “deliberately” and “sensibly”.

“We’ve had less than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, and each of those deaths has been a tragedy,” he told the ABC.

“But compared to any other nation in the world, that’s a remarkable outcome, so we have the luxury of being able to roll this vaccine out sensibly and do it in a staged fashion.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt was grilled on the delayed rollout on Friday, a day after he revealed that as of Thursday morning there were still 74 aged care homes across the country that had not received vaccines, almost two months after the original deadline.

He told reporters all aged care facilities would receive vaccines by the end of Friday.

With AAP.

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