Australia

Victoria told to brace for longer lockdown

Victorians should prepare for a possible extension of the state’s five-day COVID-19 lockdown, with authorities noting: it’s a day-by-day proposition.

A stay-at-home order is due to expire at midnight on Tuesday, but could be extended based on data including case numbers and exposure sites, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

“Every Victorian needs to ready themself for what might emerge over the next 24/48 hours,” he said on Saturday.

“All I can say is the response couldn’t have been better. The judgements that have been made around a hard and fast lockdown have been the right ones. And that’s got us on a good track.

“We’ve got settings in place until Tuesday midnight and we will make another assessment every day over the next three days.”

On Saturday authorities estimated there were 10,000 “primary close contacts” in Victoria as the number of exposure sites stretched towards 200, with 19 new locally acquired cases.

The latest case count took the number of diagnoses in the current Victorian outbreak to 43, all linked to a known source.

Some of the exposure sites and close contacts have spread to regional Victoria.

Sites of concern include pubs, clubs, restaurants, sporting venues, shopping centres, schools and gyms in metropolitan Melbourne, suburbs and multiple locations at Phillip Island, a two-hour drive south of Melbourne.

The growing list of sites and restrictions can be found at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the state looks forward to the Commonwealth’s vaccination program push.

“I don’t think it’s a state secret that we are a long way behind where we should be in the vaccination program,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“That is one of the factors that has helped shape the public health team’s decision to go hard and go early (with a lockdown), because you cannot protect Victorians with what is, I think, 12 per cent of Victorians vaccinated.”

Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania have imposed border restrictions with Victoria.

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