11 new COVID-19 cases, no community transmission
VICTORIA has recorded 11 fresh locally acquired COVID-19 cases. However, all were in quarantine throughout their period of infection.
Health officials say the new cases are also all linked to current outbreaks.
Victoria managed to administer 17,370 vaccine doses in the 24 hours to Sunday, with 32,385 virus tests conducted for the same period.
Yet Premier Daniel Andrews said it’s still too early to know whether Victoria’s lockdown can end as planned.
“The strategy is working but it’s still too early for me to be able to tell Victorians what will happen at midnight on Tuesday night,” he said.
“There is still a couple of days to go, and as we know… things can change. This is fast-moving.”
Victorian cabinet ministers and the public health team will meet on Sunday night and Monday to discuss the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
During a press conference this morning Mr Andrews expressed his dismay at anti-lockdown protesters who massed in central Melbourne on Saturday but said he was reasonably confident it would not be found to be a super-spreader event.
The rally was brought to a violent end as police used pepper spray to clear the crowd.
Penalty notices were issued to 73 people as a result of the action. More fines are expected.
“We don’t want to see people out and about selfishly putting their point of view ahead of the health and wellbeing of others,” Mr Andrews said.
“Everybody is entitled to an opinion, but you’re not entitled to put other people in danger.
“And that’s what yesterday was about. Ultimately, selfish behaviour that puts many other people in real danger.”
Mr Andrews said it had been a difficult task to shut down the mass gathering without that in itself becoming an infection control nightmare.
“People understand that Victoria Police did their very best,” he said.
“But you know, we can’t vaccinate against selfishness and these people should be ashamed. Absolutely ashamed. It’s just wrong.”
COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar described protesters as a “small minority having a self-indulgent tantrum.”
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Saturday the state was “on track” for a planned easing of restrictions on Tuesday but declined to confirm it.
The numbers continue an encouraging downward trend in new diagnoses after 14 cases were reported on Friday and 26 on Thursday.
Prof Sutton introduced a new travel designation for NSW late on Friday, making the whole state an “extreme risk zone” backdated to July 9.
This makes it difficult for Victorians in NSW to come home unless they get a rare exemption or have a Specified Worker Permit.
“It’s very strict in terms of the movement of people across the border,” he said.
Asked on Saturday whether Victoria could expect an easing of its own restrictions on Tuesday, as scheduled, Prof Sutton said the signs were positive but he declined to commit to it.
Health Minister Martin Foley insists the risk designation of NSW is a natural progression of attempts to protect Victoria and not to do with Premier Daniel Andrews’ call for a “ring of steel” blockade around Sydney.
He also moved on Saturday to hose down the idea of tensions with NSW over a lack of willingness to redirect vaccines to Sydney’s virus-ridden suburbs.
Mr Foley said Victoria and other states had “legitimate demands” on scarce vaccines for July and August which had already been allocated to them based on population.
However he welcomed recent reports of spare Pfizer doses in the national stockpile and said he’d be happy for those to be sent to NSW.
Meanwhile an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne on Saturday was brought to a violent end as police used pepper spray to clear the crowd.
Thousands of protesters of all ages chanted “freedom” as they gathered outside Victoria’s Parliament House.
“We can all argue the merits or otherwise of various approaches to managing transmission, but let’s not pretend that ‘marching for freedom’ will actually deliver the precious freedom that we all need and desire. end/,” Prof Sutton later tweeted.
As of Saturday, more than 22,000 Victorians were listed as primary close contacts isolating at home, while about 2500 MCG contacts were preparing to be released from 14 days of confinement.