Covid Victoria: Contemporary scare for regional Victoria as new publicity websites listed

Pregnant women who are beyond the 24-week mark will be eligible for priority vaccination from Sunday as the health minister warned young people make up a disproportionate amount of active cases.

Health Minister Martin Foley has warned that of the 2793 active Covid cases in the state, a disproportionate amount are under 50 years old.

He said that 407 children under nine had the virus, along with 459 children aged between 10 and 19.

“We continue to see unfortunately this outbreak being concentrated in the young and the unvaccinated,” he said.

A further 697 patients are in their 20s and 485 people in their 30s have coronavirus.

There were 450 new cases recorded in the state in the last 24 hours.

Of the infections, just 75 have so far been linked to known cases and outbreaks.

The surge is Victoria’s highest daily tally since August 8, 2020 when 466 cases were recorded.

There are 143 people in hospital, 34 are in intensive care and 26 of those are on a ventilator.

Mr Foley said 89 per cent of those in hospital had not been vaccinated, while the remaining 11 per cent had only received one dose.

Nobody in hospital has been fully vaccinated.

In total, 39,148 vaccines were administered and 42,765 test results received.

NEW PUSH FOR PREGNANT WOMEN TO GET JAB

Victorian women who are beyond the 24-week mark will be eligible for priority vaccination from Sunday.

Dr Ryan Hodges, director of obstetric services at Monash Health, says he’s very worried about the effects of Covid on pregnant women.

“What we’ve seen over the last week has caused alarm,” he said.

“We know that in pregnancy, coronavirus means you’re five times more likely to need to come to us.

“It (vaccine) does not increase the risk of miscarriage, it does not increase the risk of abnormalities in your baby, it does not increase pregnancy complications, it prevents severe disease.”

Dr Hodges also noted Covid-infected pregnant women have a one in seven chance of being admitted to intensive care and a one in three chance of needing oxygen therapy.

REGIONS ON ALERT AMID NEW EXPOSURE SITES

Regional Victoria faces fresh Covid scares after a pharmacy, construction site and tool shops in Geelong and Lorne were added to the Health Department’s exposure site list.

Exposure sites have also been identified in Daylesford.

It comes as the regions celebrated its first day of freedom on Friday.

Stribling Reserve construction site in Lorne has been deemed a Tier 1 site on September 6 between 11.45am and 4.15pm.

Anyone who attended must get tested and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.

Total Tools and Sydney Tools both in Geelong North and Soul Pattinson Pharmacy in the CBD have all been deemed Tier 2 sites for September 8, with anyone who attended at the listed times told to get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

A positive case also attended a second Daylesford cafe, Panchos Cafe on September 8 between 10.20am and 11am.

Anyone who attended at the listed time is considered a Tier 2 contact and must get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

Meanwhile, a medical clinic and cafe in Daylesford both confirmed via Facebook a positive case had visited both venues despite neither being added to the Department of Health’s exposure site list as of Friday night.

Cliffy’s Emporium said a staff member that worked on Tuesday had since tested positive, with the cafe closed on Saturday to allow other workers to get swabbed.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience. We will share all relevant information as it becomes available,” the post said.

“As you can imagine, it’s an awful situation for the staff member and the team to be in.”

Springs Medical Daylesford said it had been advised by health authorities a positive case visited on Wednesday, with anyone who attended between 3.15pm and 4.30pm considered a primary close contact.

The centre was closed on Friday afternoon as a deep clean took place.

PARKVILLE YOUTH DETENTION WORKER TESTS POSITIVE

Prison workers at a Victorian youth justice centre have been furloughed after a staff member tested positive for Covid.

The Herald Sun understands the staff member worked at the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre in Parkville on Monday and Tuesday while infectious, before testing positive on Friday.

In an email distributed to prison staff, workers were told to get tested and isolate after the positive case was identified.

It is believed the worker was based in a unit that houses inmates aged between 10 and 14 years old.

No locations from the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct have been publicly identified as exposure sites by health authorities, and all Covid tests from clients and staff have so far returned negative results.

A Department of Justice and Community Safety spokeswoman said inmate’s movements had since been limited as the facility assisted contact tracers to identify all close contacts.

“A staff member at the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct has tested positive to COVID-19 on Friday 10 September,” the spokeswoman said.

“The movement of young people has been temporarily restricted while contact tracing is underway.”

While sources raised concerns about potential virus exposure to young inmates and staffing shortages, the spokeswoman said additional workers have been brought in to cover those who have been forced to get tested.

“At this stage it is not expected to affect operations at the facility,” she said.

The spokeswoman said reviews of CCTV footage at the youth detention centre had not revealed any breaches of the facility’s Covid safe measures.

LOCKDOWN PROTESTS PLANNED ACROSS MELBOURNE

A “Freedom Park gathering” was planned at the Tim Neville Arboretum in Ferntree Gully on Saturday.

Event organisers encouraged demonstrators to “bring flags and wear blue to stand out” to the barbecue picnic lunch.

Several maskless people congregated at the park’s rotunda but left shortly after.

About two dozen police officers were patrolling the park.

One protester was heard arguing with police after they asked him why he chose to attend the event.

He told officers: “I’m not breaching anything, cause I’m going for the walk in the park.”

Another woman accused police officers of “aggressive” behaviour and filmed them as they interrogated her.

Others were seen on the periphery of the park watching from a distance.

Attendee Benjamin said having the police there was “pretty intimating”.

“I thought it was just going to be chill event,” he said.

Benjamin said he had grown frustrated with Victoria’s lockdowns and the state government’s coronavirus response.

“People are losing their jobs, they don’t know where their next pay check is coming from, it’s a horrible time to be alive,” he said.

“It is pretty frustrating see our politicians doing nothing, where do we draw the line?”

The suburban event came ahead of a major anti-lockdown protest planned for next Saturday, September 18 in Melbourne’s CBD.

CALL FOR DAN TO DITCH DAILY COVID NUMBERS

Lord Mayor Sally Capp has called on the state government to ditch the daily case numbers and unveil a NSW-style road map to provide Melburnians with hope and certainty.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to unveil a plan next week, but Melburnians have pleaded for that to be urgently brought forward.

The Premier, chief health officer Brett Sutton and Education Minister James Merlino were all noticeably absent from Friday’s coronavirus press conference, despite Victoria recording 334 local cases.

Cr Capp said businesses were “in the doldrums and in the dark” without a road map.

NSW this week announced fully vaccinated people would be allowed to visit friends’ homes, gather in groups of up to 20 outdoors, and head to restaurants, pubs, stores, cin­emas and theatres from the Monday after 70 per cent of its population were fully jabbed.

“Business owners in Melbourne need a road map,” Cr Capp told the Saturday Herald Sun.

“Business owners in Melbourne are jealous of their counterparts in Sydney who have been told when and how they can reopen.

“The key to unlocking their determination to survive is knowing what they will need to do and when they can do it.”

She said it was time for the focus to shift from the number of infections to the number of people in hospital.

“Vaccination is breaking the nexus between Covid and hospitalisation. Allowing vaccinated people to eat out, shop and enjoy entertainment would be a massive incentive for anyone who still needs ­encouragement to get vaccinated,” she said.

The Lord Mayor has flagged Melbourne was ready to reopen with a bang, as more than 200 dining parklets and 800 footpath dining permits await the green light to go.

“In the past people have said that Melbourne isn’t an outdoor city but last summer we gave Victorians a taste and they loved it. This summer we want to do it on steroids,” she said.

“Everyone knows that city businesses have been closed for too long. We’re going to hit a world record that isn’t worth celebrating.

“We all agree that the ­priority must be saving lives but we have to find a way to save livelihoods at the same time.”

Leading epidemiologists and the state Opposition called for Victoria to match NSW’s road map out of lockdown when key vaccination targets are hit.

Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll – who was the only government official put forward for questions on Friday – could only say the matter was being worked on “day in, day out”.

“The Premier has made very clear that he is working with the chief health officer on the plan,” Mr Carroll said.

The state is expected to “smash” its initial expectation of vaccinating 70 per cent of eligible people with at least one dose by September 23.

Of Friday’s cases, 190 cases were centred in Melbourne’s north, 109 in the west, nine in the east, and 16 in south east.

Despite that, Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said he did not believe Melbourne’s outbreak was on the same trajectory as Sydney.

But Mr Weimar said he was concerned about spread outside the known hotspot areas.

“We’re obviously dealing with significant community transmission in the north and west of our city … We are seeing a little bit of seeding out into the south and east,” he said.

“I think it is still in our hands … We have it within us, if we grip this up, stick with those directions, stick with those difficult things we’re being asked to do for a relatively short period of time.”

A Coburg man in his 70s ­became Victoria’s 824 Covid death, and the fourth of this outbreak.

None of the 127 Victorians in hospital with the virus are fully vaccinated, with only 10 per cent having received one dose.

The state’s V/Line network was also thrown into disarray, with up to 100 services set to be interrupted after a train driver and conductor contracted the virus.

Mr Carroll said the V/Line driver had worked on the Gippsland service and had spent time in the staffroom at Southern Cross Station.

It is understood the regional man had been staying with family in the western suburbs, but authorities claim he did not breach any public health ­orders.

KIDS PROTEST AGAINST BMX TRACK BARRICADE

Locals have protested a council decision to place concrete bollards and temporary fencing over a BMX track in Melbourne’s southeast on Friday.

Up to 30 children, some in the company of their parents, took to Hill ‘n’ Dale BMX Park in Glen Iris to protest, as workers installed barriers with a truck crane at 3pm.

Skate parks, BMX tracks, basketball courts and outdoor gym equipment remain closed under the chief health officer’s direction.

Boroondara City Mayor, Garry Thompson, said previous safety measures had been vandalised which left park-goers exposed to injury.

“We understand the stress and difficulties these lockdowns bring to not just the Boroondara community, but to many people across Melbourne,” he said.

“We must all comply with the chief health officer’s directives, but this does not diminish the fact that the community is doing it tough.”

Police oversaw the protest and confirmed no health breaches took place.

“Police were in attendance to ensure the safety of the children and workmen who were using heavy equipment to install the fencing,” a police spokesman said.

“The protest was peaceful in nature with no injuries.”

HOSPO LIMITS STIFLE REGIONAL TRADE

Regional Victorians are embracing their first weekend of new freedoms, but strict density rules have forced struggling pubs and hotels to turn away patrons.

It comes as Melburnians are warned to stay put, with Victoria Police set to deploy extra officers to the metropolitan boundary in a bid to stop city dwellers fleeing lockdown.

Regional communities – with the exception of Shepparton which is battling a large outbreak – are now able to leave their homes for any reason.

Restaurants and cafes, shops, hairdressers and entertainment venues can reopen for seated service, with hospitality caps of 20 people outdoors and 10 indoors.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent warned Melburnians not to act on any temptation to sneak into the regions.

He said police would use digital technology to track vehicles with Melbourne registrations to ensure drivers had a valid reason for travel.

“Don’t be that person from metro Melbourne that brings the virus to regional Victoria and causes regional Victoria to be locked down again.”

It comes as authorities reveal that some positive cases in metropolitan Melbourne may have been getting tested in the regions.

Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar warned that while Melburnians could travel more than 5km to get tested or vaccinated, they couldn’t exit the metropolitan ring.

It’s forced residents in fringe towns like Bunyip and Garfield in the Cardinia Shire to cancel vaccinations that were due to be held 15 minutes away in Drouin – which is classed as regional.

Struggling businesses are also calling for a rethink on patron caps, arguing the current limits aren’t sustainable.

Jamie Collins, who owns the Beach Hotel in Jan Juc, said he was forced to turn away upwards of 1000 prospective patrons due to the indoor 10-person density cap in place for hospitality venues.

“Getting a booking in here at the moment is like winning a ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory,” he said.

“We were gutted by the government’s decision on this one.”

Mr Collins said while it was a relief to open in some capacity, he could ordinarily host up to 240 diners at one time and could only keep his businesses running until the end of the month if limits stayed capped.

“Under the last restrictions, we were doing about 350 meals a day with the 100 person cap but at the moment, the best that we’re going to be able to do is 50 to 70 a day,” he said. “We’re losing about $10,000 a week.”

The situation is a little easier for Christian Lister, who runs the Surfcoast Picnic Co with wife Linda.

“This is great, we just need people to be out and about,” he said.

Mr Lister said he was relieved he did not have to contend with tough density limits in place for hospitality venues.

Opposition gaming and liquor regulation spokeswoman Steph Ryan said Premier Daniel Andrews needed to provide a plan that allowed businesses to safely reopen.

“This token ‘easing’ is unworkable for regional clubs that are fighting for survival after 18 months of Labor’s revolving door of opening and closing at a minute’s notice,” Ms Ryan said.

“Pubs and clubs just can’t reopen under these restrictions – they don’t have a snowflake’s hope in hell of covering their costs.”

Comments are closed.