Victoria has recorded 847 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one further death, amid warnings hospitalisations will continue to rise.
The 847 local infections represent the highest daily case count of the pandemic
Surf Coast will exit lockdown from Monday, but Geelong and Mitchell Shire will have to wait to find out if restrictions will be eased
Authorities say how people behave in coming days and during the grand final will have a direct impact on rising hospitalisation rates
A man in his 80s from the Hume council area is the 22nd death linked to the state’s current Delta outbreak.
The new infections were found from 57,342 test results processed on Friday.
It is the highest single-day tally of the outbreak to date, and is four times higher than the number of infections recorded at the start of the month.
Case numbers are projected to keep rising until a peak later in October, with admissions to hospital also expected to keep going up.
It brings the total number of active infections in the state to 7,611, the vast majority of those acquired in the community.
The outbreak is being driven by spread within and between households, many of them containing young essential workers across Melbourne’s north and west.
COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said about 55 per cent of the recent cases were household contacts, and the vast majority of the remaining 45 per cent was coming through social interactions between households.
He said that was a pattern seen across the third wave.
“It is helping out your mum by doing some small chores. It’s around going to see your cousin.
“It’s all those day-to-day things we all desperately want to go back and do and we are seeing far too high a level of that still happening,” he said.
“Not just in the northern suburbs, but across Melbourne.”
There are fears recent protests in the CBD could be superspreader events, especially after it was revealed a person was hospitalised with COVID-19 after attending Wednesday’s violence at the Shrine of Remembrance.
There are 321 people currently in hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 65 are in intensive care, including 45 on a ventilator.
That is more than double the number of people who were in hospital a fortnight ago.
“And this is why it is so critical for all of us to do everything we can to minimise household-to-household transmission and to minimise the community transmission we are continuing to see,” Mr Weimar said.
The MCG on a blue-sky day with nobody outside.
The MCG would usually be teeming with people but is empty as part of Melborune’s lockdown.(ABC News: Amy Bainbridge)
Parts of the state remain in lockdown and a strict, daily 9:00pm–5:00am curfew is still in place in Melbourne, so it will come into effect midway through tonight’s AFL grand final.
Mr Weimar said he was “extremely concerned” about people gathering to watch the game.
“How we conduct ourselves over the coming weeks, how we conduct ourselves tonight will be critical to where our case numbers go, but more importantly where our hospitalisation numbers go,” Mr Weimar said.
“We are doing everything we can to create that capacity, and that means denying others the chance to get treatment and the option to get their own forms of treatment, so please minimise the transmission, that household contact.
“Do it for yourself and your family, those you love and for those who do not want to end up in hospital over the weeks ahead as we all do everything we can to get vaccinated and get to the finishing line.”
Around 62 per cent of cases identified in Victoria yesterday were in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, with 22 per cent in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
More than 83 per cent of all active cases in Victoria are people under 50 years of age. More than 23 per cent of cases are people in their 20s.
One positive case identified on September 24 is associated with the Spirit of Tasmania.
An engineer has tested positive and the crew of 14 engineering staff have been identified as primary close contacts.
A replacement engineering crew is being called in so the boats can resume operation.
Surf Coast to leave lockdown on schedule, concerns about other regional areas
The virus has continued spreading into regional Victoria, with new exposure sites listed in the state’s north-east and south-west overnight.
Long lines have been forming at testing sites in Warrnambool after more than 30 exposure sites were identified in the area.
Geelong, Surf Coast and Mitchell Shire are in a seven-day lockdown which is due to end at 11:59pm on Sunday.
Health Minister Martin Foley said due to the “really good efforts” on the Surf Coast, just west of Geelong, the Chief Health Officer had advised the shire would “definitely be coming out of lockdown”.
He said things were looking “relatively positive” in Greater Geelong, where three new cases were included in the latest count.
A Geelong street empty of people.
Geelong is more likely to leave lockdown than Mitchell Shire.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)
There were seven new infections in locked-down Mitchell Shire, just north of Melbourne.
Mr Foley said that, given the proximity to Melbourne and the large number of essential workers moving in and out of the shire, cases there were expecting to rise and moving out of lockdown was unlikely.
He said if people did not have to move across regional boundaries, then they should not.
“That is what is seeding infections into the regions, largely from Metro Melbourne,” Mr Foley said.
Catch up on the main COVID-19 news from September 25 with a look back at our blog
Meanwhile, two residents of a caravan park in Warracknabeal, the largest town in Yarriambiack Shire in central Victoria, have tested positive, according to the local council and hospital in the town.
Both people tested positive on day 13 of isolating, after being primary close contacts of a construction-related exposure site outside the Wimmera.
Communal facilities at the caravan park were deep cleaned on Saturday, a day after the positive tests.
Yarriambiack Shire Council chief executive Jessie Holmes said the two cases had done everything required of them, including contacting the Department of Health and monitoring health symptoms.
Infectious disease physician with the Grampians Public Health Unit, Aaron Block, said there was no need for a testing site, vaccination drive or lockdown in the town.
Dr Block said there had also been no further transmission after a positive case in St Arnaud on September 17, and he praised the community response there.
No exposure sites are expected in Warracknabeal as they have been in isolation for their entire infectious period.
They are the first cases there since March 22, 2020.
Vaccine allocation confirmed for October
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Duration: 2 minutes 30 seconds2m 30s
Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 30 seconds
AFLW star Isabel Huntington announces the launch of a Western Bulldogs-sponsored community vaccination hub at Whitten Oval.
There were 37,220 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered at state-run sites yesterday.
The latest federal data shows more than 76 per cent of Victorians aged 16 years and older have had at least one dose of a vaccine, while more than 46 per cent have had both.
Areas with a soaring number of infections earlier had lower vaccination rates, but rates have been boosted in Wyndham, now sitting at 80 per cent, Hobson’s Bay, at 76 per cent, and Casey at 75 per cent.
A Western Bulldogs community vaccination pop-up will be set up next weekend, on October 2 and 3, at VU Whitten Oval.
Two people walk near a sign saying ‘COVID-19 testing this way’.
The reasons to leave home remain limited across Melbourne and locked-down parts of the state.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)
It was hoped the state would hit an 80 per cent first-dose target this weekend, allowing for a very slight relaxing of recreation rules, but that goal is now likely to be reached during the week instead.
Mr Foley said the delay in reaching the 80 per cent single-dose mark would not necessarily mean the 70 and 80 per cent double-dose targets would be late.
Federal authorities yesterday confirmed the country’s vaccine allocations would remain on track for October after initial concerns about supply.
Mr Weimar said from October 4, Victorian GPs would be given 400,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine a week, going up to 427,000 per week from October 18.
There are hopes it could bring forward the timeline for the easing of restrictions once 70 per cent and 80 per cent double-dose targets are met.
Premier Daniel Andrews had earlier warned the state was “rationing” mRNA vaccines due to supply concerns, urging people to book for AstraZeneca.
The Moderna vaccine distribution has been expanded beyond pharmacies and is now being used in some state hubs in the south-east.
Moderna vaccine doses will be boosted throughout October as well.
Mr Foley said the allocations were “not at the higher levels that the horizons document forecasted”, but the confirmation “gives us more certainty and predictability”.
Travel restrictions for communities on the NSW–Victorian border
All local government areas (LGA) on the NSW–Victorian border are now classified as red zones under Victoria’s travel permit system, after the NSW LGA of Albury was reclassified at 11:59 pm on September 23.
Residents of the cross-border community who have not left the cross-border area or been in an extreme risk zone at any time in the previous 14 days can enter Victoria without a permit for any reason.
Victorians who do not live in the cross-border community can apply for a red zone permit to re-enter Victoria.
Vaccination requirements for holders of specified worker (multiple entry) permit
To remain eligible for a specified worker (multiple entry) permit, commercial freight and healthcare workers entering Victoria from extreme risk or red zones are now required to carry evidence showing they have either had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or will have received their first dose by October 8, 2021.
Permit holders can also provide proof of an exemption issued by a medical practitioner, if applicable.
Commercial freight and healthcare workers with a specified worker (multiple entry) permit issued before September 24 have until 11:59pm on Monday September 27 to apply for a new permit. Existing permits will be revoked at that time
Viral fragments in wastewater detections
COVID-19 viral fragments have been detected in wastewater samples taken from several regional areas.
In the Ballarat area, the unexpected wastewater detection was from the following suburbs:
Lake Gardens, Alfredton and Delacombe. There were repeated detections between September 17 and September 22
Ballarat Central and Redan, with the period of interest being from September 20 to September 22
Ascot, Bald Hills, Ballarat North, Blowhard, Cabbage Tree, Cardigan, Invermay, Invermay Park, Lake Gardens, Learmonth, Miners Rest, Mitchell Park, Mount Rowan, Sulky, Wendouree and Windermere, with repeated detections from September 15 to September 17 and September 20 to September 23
In the Bendigo area there has been unexpected wastewater detection in an area that includes East Bendigo, Wellsford, Strathdale, Kennington, Strathfieldsaye and Junortoun. The period of interest is September 21 to September 23.
In Phillip Island, there has been unexpected wastewater detection in an area that includes Cape Woolamai, Cowes, Newhaven, Rhyll, San Remo, Silverleaves, Smiths Beach, Sunderland Bay, Sunset Strip, Surf Beach, Ventnor and Wimbledon Heights. The period of interest is September 20 to September 23.
In Warrnambool, there has been unexpected wastewater detection in an area that includes Allansford, Dennington and Koroit. The period of interest is September 19 to September 21.
There has also been unexpected wastewater detection in Hamilton, Seymour and Benella between September 18 and September 22.
Anyone who lives in, works in or has visited the areas above is urged to watch for the mildest of COVID-19 symptoms and get tested as soon as possible if symptoms develop.