Entire Victorian families test positive for Covid before a member even knows they are infected with the virus.
Concerned health officials blame the discovery as the reason the state’s rapidly spreading Delta epidemic is on track to reach 18,000 active cases in a matter of weeks.
“We find cases where entire households are positive when the first person has come for testing and adjacent households and families are all positive at the same time,” Covid Commander Jeroen Weimar said on Thursday.
“We are picking up new cases, and there are a lot of cases behind them that were already infected many days ago.”
Data from the Department of Health shows Victoria is on track to reach 18,000 active cases of Covid-19 by October 16. In the photo, health workers at the Melbourne Museum vaccination center on Wednesday
WHERE THE VICTORIA DELTA EPIDEMIC IS SPREADING FASTEST
Western suburbs – 102 cases – including Werribee, Tarneit, Altona North
Northern suburbs – 195 cases – including Cragieburn, Glenroy, Roxburgh Park and Broadmeadows
Eastern suburbs – five cases
Southeastern Suburbs – 20 cases – Keysborough, Narre Warren and Hampton Park
Regional Victoria – two cases – one is in Shepparton and the other is a primary close contact
Victoria on Thursday recorded 324 new cases of the coronavirus, including a 2021 record of 217 mysterious infections unrelated to previous cases.
Weimar said the Victorians need to improve their social distancing to counter the risk of the highly contagious Delta variant.
“That person next to you in the grocery store aisle may be positive, and they may not know it, they may not have any symptoms,” he said.
He said the escalating epidemic was of particular concern in the northern suburbs of Craigieburn, Glenroy, Roxburgh Park and Broadmeadows with 195 cases overnight.
By comparison, there have only been 20 cases in the city’s southeast and five in Melbourne’s east. There have been 102 cases in the western suburbs.
The state achieved a first-dose vaccination rate of 63.2 percent amid an inoculation blitz at government-run clinics.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said last week he would ease some lockdown restrictions when 70% of Victoria received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
But new modeling from the state’s health ministry has predicted that there will be 18,000 active Covid cases by mid-October.
Health chiefs are also bracing for increased demand, with 800 Covid patients expected to need a hospital bed by the middle of next month, Age reported.
Department of Health Secretary Euan Wallace said he was “extraordinarily anxious” about opening up too soon.
The projection of active cases in Victoria represents a tenfold increase in the state’s infection rate over the next month.
Pictured: A woman walks along St Kilda Road in Melbourne. Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has pledged to ease the tight state lockdown when 70% of Victoria’s population received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but health officials warned that could result an increase in cases
Health Minister Martin Foley said on Thursday that health officials had “built on the lessons of 2020” – when Victoria suffered a second wave of horrific infections that claimed the lives of 768 people – to prevent a dramatic escalation in the number of active cases.
“We can increase [hospital capacity] quite easily. We would rather not do it, ”he said on Thursday.
“We prefer that people get tested, follow the rules and get vaccinated as quickly as possible and we are ironing out that as soon as possible.”
There are 111 Covid-19 patients in Victorian hospitals, compared to 1,100 in NSW. Of these 111 patients, none is fully vaccinated.
Mr Foley said the Victorian government faced a different challenge containing its latest outbreak of Delta in New South Wales – which reached 27,941 infections.
“They are at levels of workloads that we want to avoid,” he said.
“We want to make sure that the public health advice we take is built around the Victorian circumstances and that is what we are doing.
“The situation in New South Wales is different. We want to make sure we don’t hit that level.
Victoria recorded its highest number of Covid cases since mid-August last year, hours before the regional region of Victoria was released from lockdown
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned earlier that the number of active cases would likely increase significantly in the coming days.
“We have a significant number of cases in Melbourne and those active numbers will almost double over the next week,” he said.
“The risk is going to increase in Melbourne, and we need to do everything we can to protect each other here, but also to protect the regional Victorians by being super vigilant.”
Thursday’s cases were diagnosed from 54,242 tests, the most in a day this year, and 37,604 doses of the vaccine were administered on Wednesday.
The number of cases is the highest since August 13 last year, when Victoria was in the late stages of outbreaks that killed more than 800 people.
The escalating outbreak is almost entirely in Melbourne, so restaurants, clothing stores and schools in the Victoria area have been given the green light to reopen with density limits.
Starting at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Regional Victorians will be able to leave their homes for any reason, but still won’t be able to make it home.
Lockdown in the Victoria area will end at midnight on Thursday as Melburnians remain under strict restrictions (photo from Melbourne)
Travel limits will be removed with the new rules applying to all regions except Shepparton.
Businesses, including hospitality, retail, hairdressers and entertainment facilities, will all be able to re-welcome customers with customer density caps.
Ten customers will be allowed to dine inside and 20 outside in the reception areas.
Indoor performance venues can accommodate 20 people and outdoor venues can accommodate 25% of capacity or 300 people, whichever is less.
Theme parks can reopen at 25% of their capacity, but nightclubs will remain closed.
Lockdown ends in Victoria area
As of 11:59 p.m. Thursday, the lockdown in the Victoria area will end. The following restrictions apply to the state, with the exception of Shepparton and Melbourne:
– Residents can leave their homes for any reason with no distance limit except Melbourne entry rules
– Businesses and venues including hospitality, retail, hairdressers and entertainment facilities will all be able to welcome customers back with pattern and density caps
– Ten customers can dine inside restaurants and cafes and 20 outside
– Kindergarten to Grades 2 and 12 students can return to school for face-to-face learning
– Weddings will return for 10 people while funerals will be allowed to have 20 guests excluding those needed for services
– Regional Victorians are still encouraged to work from home, but offices can fall to 25% of the staff or up to 10 people, whichever is greater
– Masks will however still be required for all Victorians indoors and outdoors and those in regional areas of the state must carry their ID with them at all times
– Those who live in the border areas of New South Wales can apply for an exemption to return home
– Private gatherings in homes are still not allowed except for intimate partners or those in singles bubbles
– Community sport will also continue with a limited number of players while outdoor activities are limited to 20 people per facility
– Outdoor playgrounds and gymnasiums will reopen with personal trainers capable of training 10 people at a time
– Indoor entertainment venues can accommodate 20 people and outdoor venues can accommodate 25% of capacity or 300 customers, whichever is less.
– Theme parks can reopen at 25% of their capacity
– For real estate, 10 people can meet for private inspections while the auctions will take place with a maximum of 10 guests