News Victoria records 334 COVID-19 cases, one death
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Victoria records 334 COVID-19 cases, one death

Victoria's regional communities are reopening, except Shepparton (pictured). Photo: AAP
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Most regional Victorians have emerged from strict lockdown on Friday, as the state confirms 334 new virus cases and another death.

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar on Friday confirmed 149 cases were linked to known outbreaks, with the source of the remaining 185 under investigation.

The fatality was a Coburg man in his 70s and takes the death toll from the state’s latest outbreak to four.

There are now 2426 active cases in the state, 127 of which are in hospital including 33 in intensive care, with 21 requiring a ventilator to breathe.

In the 24 hours to Friday morning, 42,998 tests were processed and 39,027 Victorians received a vaccine dose at a state-run hub, beating Wednesday’s record of 37,604 jabs.

It comes as all of regional Victoria, with the exception of greater Shepparton, has exited lockdown. With cafes, restaurants and bars able to open with strict patron limits.

Schools can reopen from Friday for years prep to two, and year 12, but all other students must continue their studies remotely.

From Friday, the government will also allow Victorians who have been stuck on the NSW side of the border since late August to apply for a new permit to return home.

Successful applicants will have to drive home and isolate for 14 days.

Melbourne will remain under strict lockdown rules until at least 70 per cent of the eligible population receive their first vaccine dose.

So far it has only been suggested Melburnians will get an extra hour of outdoor activity and the five-kilometre travel radius will be expanded to 10 kilometres when it reaches that target.

There has been no indication of what freedoms will be permitted when 70 and 80 per cent of the population is double-vaccinated.

NSW released its plan out of lockdown on Thursday, which involves retail and hospitality opening to fully-vaccinated people in mid-October.

On Thursday evening, health authorities reminded residents that 89 per cent of those in hospital with the virus have not been vaccinated. While just 11 per cent have had one dose. None are fully vaccinated.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government was awaiting detailed modelling from the Burnett Institute, which will forecast the Victorian outbreak’s peak and how the healthcare system will respond.

He said there is an “enormous amount of work” being done to prepare the state’s hospitals for a surge in cases.

The majority of the state’s active cases are in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, leading to calls from GPs, pharmacists and community leaders for a Pfizer vaccine blitz in the area, at more culturally appropriate sites.

A V-Line train driver has also tested positive for COVID-19 sparking chaos for regional commuters, given more than 100 other staff have been forced into isolation after being deemed close contacts.

Transport Minister Ben Caroll said 20 services have been disrupted.

-AAP