Victoria has recorded 22 new local cases of Covid-19, with 17 of those cases linked to known outbreaks.
Of the new cases, 14 were in isolation throughout their infectious period.
The state’s pandemic response appears to be at a crossroads with Premier Daniel Andrews pleading with residents to follow the lockdown rules.
He said yesterday the current restrictions in Melbourne – which were expected to end on Thursday – could continue for months if rule-breaking caused a further escalation of the outbreak.
“The choice really is between where we are now and hundreds and then thousands of cases,” he said.
Andrews pointed to NSW where new daily cases have begun to surpass 400, prompting NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to assert eliminating Covid-19 in the state was “not possible”.
“I’m determined to make sure that it doesn’t happen here,” Andrews said.
“I know no one’s enjoying this. But what’s worse than this is, well, being locked up until the end of October, or indeed the end of November, because that’s how long it may well take to get 80 per cent of people through the vaccination programme,” he said.
Australia’s four-stage roadmap out of Covid points to a ‘consolidation’ phase once 80 per cent of the eligible population is vaccinated, ending the use of lockdowns to control the virus.
At that stage, according to the national pandemic exit plan that was endorsed by national cabinet, health authorities would manage Covid-19 similar to other infectious diseases like the flu.
There are still concerns over growing clusters growing across Melbourne after eight major outbreak sites emerged in just over a week.
Contact tracers are still attempting to connect five cases recorded on Sunday to existing clusters across Caroline Springs, Melton, Middle Park, Richmond, and Maribyrnong.
Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said the state was at a “tipping point” as authorities seek to contain the outbreak.
“We’ve now got three, four significant clusters that are being generated that we now have to focus on, and that’s the area of concern at the moment, and that is why this is a real tipping point,” Weimar said.
“We can deal with those new clusters. We can deal with [the mystery cases] in St Kilda East, we can deal with Middle Park, we can deal with Glenroy, but if there are more cases coming off the back of them, that’s where you start to get issues.”
Border closures between states look likely to remain in place until next year. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday his state’s hard border with NSW could stay until the end of 2021, while Andrews said he would not open up Victoria to its northern neighbour until the Sydney outbreak was completely under control, regardless of vaccination rates.
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