Victoria has confirmed 176 more coronavirus cases, an increase of more than 50 from Wednesday, as authorities shift focus from chasing zero cases to suppressing the outbreak.
It’s the state’s second consecutive day of more than locally acquired 100 cases, after 120 were reported on Wednesday.
It brings total active cases in Victoria to 1029, the health department reported on Thursday.
There could be up to 93 mystery cases, with 83 of the latest infections linked to known outbreaks.
The number of people isolating during their infectious period is yet to be reported.
More than 33,000 people were vaccinated at state-run hubs and 48,372 people were tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
It came as the Victorian government conceded efforts to bring cases down to zero have failed, with tough restrictions to remain until October.
Authorities have shifted focus to suppressing the outbreak, keeping the health system from being overwhelmed, while racing to reach higher vaccination coverage.
The state’s restrictions – which include a 9pm-5am curfew and a five-kilometre travel limit – will remain until about September 23, when 70 per cent of the eligible population is expected to have received a first vaccine dose.
After hitting that mark, there will be slightly more freedom, including the travel limit expanding to 10 kilometres and exercise increasing to three hours.
Playgrounds, however, will reopen on Friday to children aged 12 and under. They can be supervised by one parent or guardian, who must wear a mask and check in.
Meanwhile, Victoria is further tightening its border with NSW with Premier Daniel Andrews indicating it could remain closed until the end of the year.
As COVID-19 cases rise across both sides of the Murray River, six Victorian and two NSW local government areas will be tossed out of the state’s border bubble from 11.59pm on Thursday.
There are more than 920 exposure sites listed, including Base Backpackers in St Kilda over five days from August 28 to September 1. All the sites can be checked here.