Covid 19 Australia: Victoria outbreak a pandemic of the unvaccinated

Victorian authorities are working to identify the close contacts of hundreds of Covid-19 cases with young people continuing to be the worst hit in the outbreak.

The state reported 473 local cases of Covid-19 today, another new grim record in the latest outbreak, as vaccination rates climb higher – of the eligible population in Victoria, 40.8 per cent are fully vaccinated and 66.2 per cent have had their first dose.

Today’s cases come as officials warn of an “emerging significant outbreak” at the Fitzroy Community School in Melbourne’s north after the school repeatedly flouted public health orders.

Deputy chief health officer Dan O’Brien said “urgent further investigations” are underway after latest numbers indicate at least 30 cases involving students and staff at the primary school.

Emails obtained by The Age reveal the school’s principal repeatedly invited parents to send their children to class despite the Melbourne lockdown, arguing that the damage to their mental health from extended periods of remote learning was potentially severe.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to request that you continue to keep your children at home. Please feel free to send your child to school if you feel that this is best for them or best for your family balance. I do not write this lightly, as this does breach government imposed directives for schools,” he wrote in a June 3 email.

Of the active cases across Victoria, 85 per cent are under the age of 50.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the statistic was a reminder that the virus “is everybody’s business”.

“That is the nature of a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Andrews said on Sunday. “That group is still too big for us to be able to open up, but as we slowly decrease the number of people who have not been vaccinated … there are more options.”

In a bid to drive vaccination numbers even higher, a number of pop-up centres will be set up across 100 postcodes of concern and at schools. Authorities are hoping to have all students aged over 12 vaccinated by the end of the year.

Over the weekend, leading epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett told The Age that Victoria’s high case numbers were accelerating faster than NSW’s due to “lockdown fatigue and slow vaccine uptake”.

“Victoria came in with a sledgehammer, but that still didn’t work,” she said. “Every time my partner comes back from his hour of exercise or bike ride, he tells me he’s seen 40 people with no mask and 20 with a mask, so there’s this sense that even early in this lockdown it quickly looked a bit like the end of the last big lockdown.”

Melbourne residents have been given no end date for their current lockdown, while locals in regional Victoria (excluding Shepparton) are enjoying their first free weekend after they were released from lockdown.

Health Minister Martin Foley said on Saturday there was no plan to reintroduce lockdown measures in regional Victoria, despite eight new cases being recorded far from Melbourne earlier in the day.

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