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Victoria records 324 new COVID-19 cases as state trials new nasal swab for children

“Taking a medical test can be a frightening experience for some kids, but as we know, testing is critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19 among young Victorians,” Mr Foley said.

The state’s COVID-19 figures also come after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her state was set to move out of lockdown in October, after the state hits 70 per cent full vaccination.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews has made clear zero cases is no longer achievable with the Delta variant of COVID-19 circulating in metropolitan Melbourne. Steps out of lockdown for the city now also depend on the state reaching vaccination targets.

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Mr Andrews has pledged to mildly relax some restrictions when that figure reaches 70 per cent in coming weeks.

Shepparton also remains in lockdown, but Mr Andrews said he should be able to make announcements about restrictions in the regional city next week.

Public housing towers among new exposure sites

Two of Melbourne’s public housing towers have been declared COVID-19 exposure sites.

A public housing tower at 12 Holland Court is not listed as an exposure site on the Department of Health’s official website, however, a Department of Families, Fairness and Housing spokesman confirmed a positive case there had been moved into alternative accommodation and deep cleaning was under way.

“The community response has been fantastic, with large numbers already getting tested on site,” the spokesman said.

The public housing tower at 12 Holland Court in Flemington.

The public housing tower at 12 Holland Court in Flemington.

Last month, the nearby public housing towers at 126 and 130 Racecourse Road were also declared exposure sites, with families in both testing positive for COVID-19.

Another public housing tower at 33 Alfred Street in North Melbourne was listed as a tier-2 site on the Health Department’s website across Tuesday and Wednesday. Both that tower and the tower at 12 Holland Court were among nine in the state locked down with no warning on July 4, 2020.

The lockdown prompted an inquiry by the Victorian Ombudsman, who found the government’s decision to enforce the immediate isolation of about 3000 tenants violated human rights.

The Health Department listed dozens more new COVID-19 exposure sites on Thursday, including Pascoe Vale Primary School and the Ilim College’s Glenroy campus, both of which were declared tier-1 sites.

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Two medical practices – one in Taylors Lakes and one in Keilor East – were also among declared tier 1, as was a dental practice at Craigieburn.

A cafeteria at Northern Hospital in Epping was among new tier-2 sites, as was an early learning centre at Fawkner. Apartment complexes at Southbank, Docklands, Essendon and on Collins Street in the CBD were also declared tier-2.

Authorities warned that even though Coles at Coburg was declared tier-two over three days, the Health Department would contact some tier-one contacts there.

Highpoint Shopping Centre at Maribyrnong was again in the mix of tier-two sites, with EB Games there identified as at-risk.

No COVID-19 patients in Victorian hospitals fully vaccinated

Mr Foley said not one of the 111 COVID-19 patients in hospital in Victoria had been fully vaccinated.

He said 89 per cent of people in hospital have had no vaccine, while 11 per cent had one dose.

Thirty-two people are in intensive care and 19 people need a ventilator.

A vaccinated aged care worker at a facility in Gladstone Park in Melbourne’s northwest has also tested positive to COVID-19, Mr Foley said, although no residents or staff members have contracted the virus.

A V/Line spokesman confirmed on Thursday evening that a train driver had tested positive for COVID-19.

The driver worked on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the last two days with a trainee driver.

A V/Line train driver has tested positive for coronavirus.

A V/Line train driver has tested positive for coronavirus. Credit:Justin McManus

He spent time at one of V/Line’s operation depots at Southern Cross Station and in a driver’s recreation room at Traralgon Station. The depot was deep cleaned on Thursday, as was Traralgon station.

Some staff were identified as contacts of the driver.

“At this stage, there has not been any service changes due to staff undertaking precautionary isolation and COVID-19 testing,” the V/Line spokesman said.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Ben Cowie said 63.2 per cent of eligible Victorians had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

There were 81,000 bookings made through the state system on Wednesday, but more than 7000 appointments are available for a first dose of AstraZeneca over the next seven days.

Concern over spread of the virus in city’s north

Professor Cowie said transmission in Melbourne’s northern suburbs remained a concern, with opening hours at three testing sites in the area extended.

Of the new cases announced on Thursday, 195 were in the northern suburbs where more than half of all active cases live.

Breakdown of cases:

  • 102 were in Melbourne’s western suburbs
  • 195 were in the northern suburbs
  • Five were in the east
  • 20 were in the southeast
  • Two were in regional Victoria (in Shepparton and Mitchell Shire, both close contacts of existing cases)
  • The location of one case is still being traced

Mr Foley said the state had been targeting vaccinations towards the northern and western suburbs for some time.

“We will be doing all we can within our available stocks to re-prioritise [that area] even more,” Mr Foley said.

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