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Yarraville Coles listed as exposure site after Hobsons Bay teacher tests positive to COVID-19

The school issued a statement on Wednesday evening, saying it found out about the positive case at 2.30pm.

“For the time being, the College campus will be completely shut down with no staff members or students permitted to attend the College premises,” the statement said.

“Deep cleaning is being arranged.

“The College assures our families, staff and the Victorian community that we have done everything required by the Victorian government to implement Covid-19 protocols and precautions, as we have throughout this pandemic.”

The Department of Health arranged dedicated lanes for people from Al-Taqwa College at the Melbourne Showgrounds COVID-19 testing clinic on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Mr Weimar said he was confident health authorities would work well with the school to get on top of the new case.

“What gives me confidence, as it did with Trinity Grammar last week and Bacchus Marsh Grammar, and all the other schools we dealt with the last few weeks is, the school leadership is what makes all the difference,” Mr Weimar said.

“The leadership we’ve seen from Al-Taqwa tonight and over recent months has been outstanding, so I’m confident we’ll work well with them to get on top of this outbreak.”

The new case and exposure site came after the state recorded its first day of zero cases since July 11 on Wednesday morning.

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The state’s deputy secretary of COVID-19 vaccinations, Naomi Bromley, also flagged that health authorities were looking at making changes at mass vaccination hubs that would allow the distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged under 60.

Health authorities said nine people were being treated for coronavirus in Victorian hospitals, including two who were on ventilators, but the number of active cases had dropped to 99, down from 124 on Tuesday.

Mr Weimar said Victoria’s exposure sites had peaked at more than 400 during July, but the list had been reduced to just 33 on Wednesday morning. The figure has now risen to 34 with the addition of the new site on Wednesday.

“Since the middle of June … we’ve had a total of 220 cases … now 99 of those remain active at this point in time and they continue their recovery,” he said.

“In total, we’ve had around 40,000 primary or secondary contacts that we’ve been working with over the duration of this … 407 were cleared and released yesterday.”

Ms Bromley said the Health Department was still considering changes to the vaccine rollout to allow younger people to receive the AstraZeneca jab at state-run vaccination hubs.

“Our state system at the moment has 50 open access points, all across the state, you can actually do more vaccines than we’re currently doing at the moment, so we have more footprint and capacity than what we’re actually utilising now,” Ms Bromley said.

“That means, when supply becomes available, we’ll be able to scale up, and at the same time [we’re] also looking at areas where the access might not be quite as strong, and thinking about what additional points we might open up in the future …

“We are actively considering that at the moment, and we will have more to say on that.”

The Victorian government is considering allowing anyone under 60 to get an AstraZeneca jab at mass vaccination hubs.

The Victorian government is considering allowing anyone under 60 to get an AstraZeneca jab at mass vaccination hubs.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

Health authorities also said almost 60,000 Pfizer appointments were open for eligible Victorians over the coming month and more than 15,000 extra open appointments had been are set aside for prioritised workers.

The new Pfizer appointments have been added to the system following the state’s decision to revise the recommended Pfizer second dose interval to six weeks, which has freed up supply available for first dose appointments.

There were 30,117 test results processed on Tuesday, 17,612 Victorians rolled up their sleeves for a COVID-19 jab at state-run centres and no new exposure sites were added overnight.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton expressed his satisfaction with Wednesday’s run of zeros by retweeting the number on Twitter with a screenshot of Olympic swim coach Dean Boxall’s spontaneous celebrations after Ariarne Titmus won the 400-metre freestyle in Tokyo.

Premier Daniel Andrews’ pleasure was also obvious, albeit a little more succinct. “Zero,” he tweeted.

Residents of the Victorian-NSW border towns are now allowed to cross the Murray River without a permit for only five reasons: to access necessary goods and services, care-giving, work and education, exercise and to receive a vaccination.

Albury mayor Kevin Mack said the “virtual closure” of the Victorian border to NSW would do more damage to local businesses after five Victorian lockdowns in 18 months.

Mr Mack, who has been the mayor of the regional NSW city for several years and once stood as an independent to challenge Environment Minister Sussan Ley, said state governments have “never understood” the complex social and economic ties that link his regional city to Wodonga, on the Victorian side of the border.

He said people from the major cities see the border as concrete, but those living in the regions viewed the border as much more fluid, and the latest measures as akin to cutting a city in half and enacting a lockdown.

“Where’s the rationale and where’s the evidence to support it? People just want to know why,” he said.

“If you’re going to lock us down and close us down, where’s the financial support? There are literally businesses on their knees here because they’re constantly impacted by the unknown.

“This virtual closure is going to further impact that whole proposition. We are treated differently to everyone in Australia, and no one gets it.”

He claimed border towns along the entire length of the Murray River had taken a $1 billion tourism hit since the beginning of the pandemic.

Health Minister Martin Foley said on Sunday the changes would apply to residents of both NSW and Victorian towns.

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“The outbreak in NSW continues to grow, and with projections and modelling suggesting that the position in NSW is likely to get worse before it gets better, it’s prudent that Victoria takes measures to make sure that the border bubble operates as safely as we possibly can,” Mr Foley said.

“We really don’t make these changes lightly.”

The comments come as new data reveals that Melburnians are leaving the city and heading for cheaper housing and lockdown-free life in the state’s regions and other parts of the country.

A record net 11,800 people left the nation’s capital cities in the three months to the end of March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday, with Sydney and Melbourne feeling the pandemic-fuelled drain.

Since the start of the pandemic, a net 22,651 people have left Melbourne for other parts of Victoria. In total, Melbourne has lost a net 34,366 residents, including 3682 who have made the move to Brisbane.

With David Estcourt and Adam Carey

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