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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine access widens as Victoria records 50 new local cases

An Andrews government source, speaking anonymously so as to make predictions on Monday, said it was highly probable the state’s lockdown would extend beyond September 2 because both the number of mystery cases and the number of cases not in isolation had been rising.

Victoria recorded 50 new local cases on Tuesday

  • Seven cases are linked to the Shepparton cluster, which has now been genomically linked to the Glenroy cluster
  • Six cases are linked to the MyCentre Child Care in Broadmeadows
  • Twelve are linked to the Newport, Altona North and Wyndham cluster
  • Six are day-13 tests around the original Hobsons Bay cluster, including Al-Taqwa College
  • Four are linked to the Royal Melbourne Hospital 
  • Two are existing primary close contacts associated with the Royal Children’s Hospital
  • Three are known household contacts of previous cases
  • Ten were previously unlinked but have now been clarified (four are linked to the Altona North, Wyndham and Newport area, three are linked to the Carlton and Fitzroy North area, two are linked to Thomastown and one is linked to Southbank)

SOURCE: COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar

More than 29,800 people received their COVID-19 vaccine doses at Victoria’s state hubs in the past 24 hours. However, 15,000 vaccine appointments were cancelled across the state on Monday.

Melbourne emergency department worker tests positive for COVID-19

An emergency department worker at a hospital in Melbourne’s west has tested positive to COVID-19, authorities have confirmed.

Western Health executive Natasha Toohey said in a statement on Tuesday that the staff member worked in Sunshine Hospital’s emergency department on Saturday, August 21, and Sunday, August 22.

Hundreds of staff have been furloughed amid an outbreak at Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Hundreds of staff have been furloughed amid an outbreak at Royal Melbourne Hospital. Credit:Pat Scala

“An extensive contact tracing process, led by our infection prevention team and the Western Public Health Unit is continuing,” she said.

Meanwhile, health authorities have also revealed 450 staff at the Royal Melbourne Hospital have been furloughed.

Fourteen COVID-19 cases have now been linked to the hospital.

“We will make the necessary changes [and] that may mean that some people have to wait a little longer for some less urgent surgery for instance, in that hospital,” Mr Andrews said.

Access to Pfizer vaccine widens

From 7am on Wednesday, 830,000 first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments will open across Victoria. Of those appointments, 450,000 will be for the Pfizer vaccine.

However, Mr Andrews said there was not enough Pfizer for every adult in the state who is under 40.

“If I had supply for everybody, then everybody would be able to be booked,” he said.

“I don’t have supply for everyone, but we do have additional supply, and we’re making that available to as many people as fast as we possibly can.”

Mr Andrews said the AstraZeneca vaccine would still be available to people aged 18 and over, but those aged 16 and 17 would have to get Pfizer.

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Police issue more than $300k in fines over engagement party

Victoria Police confirmed on Tuesday morning that they have issued more than $305,000 in fines to the attendees of an illegal engagement party held in Melbourne’s south-east about a fortnight ago.

Sixty-nine people attended the party at Caulfield North, with at least two medical professionals among the crowd. Cases of COVID-19 were later linked to the party.

Victoria Police revealed last week that they fined the engaged couple and the bride-to-be’s parents $5452 for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

On Tuesday, they confirmed they had since fined another 52 guests the same amount, meaning attendees have now been fined a total of more than $305,000.

“Victoria Police has now issued 56 … $5452 fines to people who attended the Caulfield North engagement party,” a spokeswoman said.

“The remaining party guests were children and will not be fined. Victoria Police is satisfied all guests have been accounted for and the investigation has now concluded.”

Number of tier-1 exposure sites increase

The release of Tuesday’s COVID-19 figures came ahead of authorities adding more than 30 new COVID-19 exposure sites to the official list, including several tier-1 exposures.

St Brendan’s Primary School in Shepparton was listed as a tier-1 exposure site across three days last week.

The school’s principal said in a letter to families that, “until further notice all staff, students and household members must isolate at home”.

Tier 1 means anyone who attended the sites during the specified timeframes has to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they receive a negative result.

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Medical clinics run by Dr T P Massarany in Brunswick East and Dandenong North were also declared tier 1 sites, as was Werribee Group Healthcare in Hoppers Crossing.

Health authorities identified dozens more tier 2 exposure sites and anyone who attended them during the specified timeframes needs to isolate until they test negative for COVID-19.

The new tier-2 sites included supermarkets, banks, and a tram route from Docklands to Central Pier Station, as well as Shepparton Sports Stadium.

Notre Dame College, also in Shepparton, was also among 18 close contact exposure sites authorities listed late on Monday evening.

Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said on Tuesday that authorities were “still in the opening phase of the campaign in Shepparton”.

“We’ve got a lot more people to test over the next two or three days, so I’d expect to see numbers continue to rise,” he said.

Reopening still safe with hundreds of daily cases: Doherty Institute boss

The director of the Doherty Institute, whose modelling underlies the national plan to reopen Australia, said reopening with large numbers of daily COVID-19 cases will still be safe once the country reaches its target of 70 to 80 per cent of the adult population vaccinated.

Professor Sharon Lewin confirmed the number of cases did not materially alter the Institute’s modelling on which the plan was based.

“The really big important issue about moving from phase A to phase B is that we’re moving out of an environment of zero-COVID,” she told the ABC’s The Drum program on Monday evening. “Zero-COVID is no longer the goal once you have 70 to 80 per cent of people vaccinated. Whether you start at 30 cases or 800 cases you can still open up safely.”

Mr Andrews said there were still questions yet to be answered about what Victoria’s COVID-19 processes would look like “in a post- 80 per cent world”.

Positive cases in Lara, near Geelong

Health officials have confirmed six cases of COVID-19 in a single household in Lara, just north of Geelong.

Barwon Health also listed six additional exposure sites in the town, which is about18 kilometres from central Geelong, in addition to the exposure sites connected to the Corio Village Shopping Centre in city’s north.

Director of Barwon South West Public Health Unit Eugene Athan said in a statement: “Barwon Health has identified a number of additional exposure sites in the Geelong region. These sites are linked to a household in Lara where all six residents have tested positive for COVID-19.”

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