Victoria has reported a record 1,890 new Covid-19 cases and five overnight deaths as contact tracing is scaled back to focus on positive cases and primary contacts.
It comes after the state reported another jump in Covid-19 cases on Saturday with a record 1,965 cases, along with five deaths.
Statewide, 39,861 vaccines have been administered and 74,105 tests have been conducted in the past 24 hours.
Health officials have decided that secondary close contacts are no longer necessary to isolate as authorities change their processes to manage escalating case numbers.
Victoria is on the cusp of logging more than 2,000 daily cases after a record 1,965 cases on Saturday (pictured, a couple walking their dogs on St Kilda beach)
Friends pose on St Kilda Beach as Victoria records a record 1,965 cases on Saturday
Health Ministry deputy secretary Kate Matson said that since Victoria no longer pursues a Covid-zero strategy, about 16,000 secondary contacts could come out of isolation over the weekend.
“In an environment where we unfortunately have nearly 2,000 cases a day, the risk to public health is nonexistent in terms of secondary close contacts when you weigh it up with the operational impact,” she said on Saturday.
“So we want to focus our resources primarily on close contacts, confirmed cases and sensitive exposure sites.”
Primary contacts will be asked to isolate themselves from the rest of their household, and secondary contacts will still be encouraged to get tested if they show symptoms.
When asked whether the state would reach 3,000 cases per day by the end of October, Ms Matson said: ‘Right now we are on track in terms of hospitalizations and number of cases’.
She said the Burnet Institute was working on new models, given the high number of cases, which would be released later this week.
As the daily number of cases rises, health officials have decided that secondary close contacts are no longer necessary to isolate (photo, people enjoying a picnic in Melbourne on Saturday)
Of eligible Victorians, 85 percent have had one dose and 57 percent have had two as of Friday (pictured, a paramedic is getting his ambulance ready in Victoria on Saturday)
Vaccinations continue to rise in Victoria, with 85 percent of over 16s having been vaccinated with one dose as of Friday and 57 percent fully vaccinated.
“It’s so important that everyone who can be vaccinated gets vaccinated because that’s our ticket out of this pandemic,” Assistant Treasurer Danny Pearson said.
A small number of protests were held in Melbourne on Saturday, with police arrested three people and fined 27 for violating public health regulations.
Meanwhile, residents of Mildura are entering day two of a seven-day lockdown to contain growing coronavirus cases, with active infections in the area growing to 37.
Health officials in three states are on alert after a Victorian flight attendant worked on Virgin’s return flights from Melbourne to Adelaide, Sydney and Newcastle from Oct. 4 to 6, while she was contagious.
It’s because the time Melbourne’s children are confined to their homes due to the pandemic has surpassed the global average by 67 days, with a leading welfare group warning of stresses on their mental health.
Residents of the regional city of Mildura will enter their second day of a quick week-end on Sunday (pictured, a paramedic in Melbourne on Saturday)
A small number of protests were held in Melbourne on Saturday, with police arrested three people and fined 27 for violating health regulations (pictured, people practice on St Kilda Beach)
Analysis by Save the Children using data from the Oxford Covid-19 Government ResponseTracker reveals that children around the world have lived an average of six months or 184 days under required and recommended lockdowns since early 2020.
In Melbourne, they survived 251 days of lockdown, compared to the average for Australian children of 60 days.
Children in Venezuela have had one of the longest periods at home, with intermittent lockdowns keeping them inside for up to 491 days or 16 months.
Children in Lebanon have been forced to stay home for 418 days and in Zimbabwe alone for almost nine months this year.
Save the Children marks World Mental Health Day by warning that prolonged lockdowns are taking a devastating toll by putting children at increased risk of emotional distress, loneliness and abuse, as well as depriving them of outdoor play and access to mental health support.
In Melbourne, children have endured 251 days of lockdown, compared to the average for Australian children of 60 days (photo, people exercise on Saturday in Carlton)
Victoria is expected to hit the 70 percent double dose target by Oct. 23 and the 80 percent mark by Nov. 3 (pictured, a man kicks in Carlton Park on Saturday)
The organization says the pandemic is exacerbating existing challenges for many Australian children.
This includes children who lived through the 2019-20 wildfires and are only in the early stages of psychological recovery.
It also includes those who already have difficulties in learning or who experience socioeconomic disadvantage or other complex circumstances.
“Children are resilient, but they are also particularly vulnerable to disasters such as the Black Summer wildfires and the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save the Children Australia.
“They have specific needs and need specialist support to recover.
‘Schools are ideal institutions to provide this support. Yet school systems are already heavily overloaded. Specialist programs are urgently needed to complement existing efforts.’
Large crowds gather on St Kilda beach on Saturday as lockdown fatigue continues to tighten its grip on residents and Melbourne endures most days in the world in lockdown
The deputy secretary of the health department, Kate Matson, said health officials will focus on close contacts, confirmed cases and sensitive exposure sites (pictured, a picnic on Saturday)
Ronalds says: ‘The high percentage of students withdrawing in Australia is a national crisis that threatens to turn Covid-19 into a generational break’.
He calls for “a coherent national strategy, along with coordinated state and territory strategies, to engage students in learning.”
A survey conducted last year by Save the Children of more than 13,000 children in 46 countries found that 83 percent reported an increase in negative feelings due to the pandemic.
This was much higher where schools were closed for 17 to 19 weeks.
Since then, the situation has worsened for many as countries have faced the third or fourth wave of the virus, lockdowns have continued and schools in some countries have been closed for more than 18 months.