Victoria has recorded 510 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases and one death, as more than 100,000 of the state’s health workers issue a joint plea for the health system to be prioritised over opening up.
The health department on Friday confirmed 124 cases were linked to known outbreaks, with the source of 386 infections under investigation.
The death brings the toll from the current outbreak to nine, with the fresh infections raising the total number of active cases to 4697.
In the 24 hours to Friday morning, 55,476 tests were processed and a record 43,993 Victorians received a vaccine dose at state-run hubs.
About 120,000 doctors, nurses, paramedics, and allied health workers issued a joint call through their unions, asking the state government to prioritise the health system and its workforce over easing restrictions.
Ahead of a roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions being released on Sunday, the group called for “accurate modelling” on expected ambulance demand, hospitalisations, intensive care patients and deaths.
“Modelling must also detail the impact on access to health services for non-COVID-related patients such as heart attacks, stroke and surgery,” the unions said in a joint statement.
“Premier Andrews must continue to not succumb to the pressures of those advocating to ease restrictions – whatever the cost.”
The health workers said they are already burnt out and “fearful” of rising cases as the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital continues to increase, with 182 hospital cases, up from 37 just three weeks ago.
They are concerned that as restrictions ease, the state’s hospitals will be full of COVID patients, limiting access to beds for all other patients.
There are a record 51 Victorians in intensive care, of which 29 are on ventilators to breathe.
Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association assistant secretary Andrew Hewat warned healthcare workers “are at breaking point”.
“‘We must stop counting bed capacity and start looking at healthcare worker capacity, both mental and physical. You have no health system without health professionals to run it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the premier has announced a suite of “modest” restriction changes for Melbourne from Saturday to mark Victoria reaching its 70 per cent first dose vaccine target.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated adults can meet up with one other person from another household for a walk or picnic, while fully vaccinated adults can see five people from two households, plus dependents.
Police will not be going from park to park to check the vaccine status of those gathering, but Mr Andrews hopes Victorians will “do the right thing”.
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Other rule changes include time allowed outdoors doubling to four hours and the travel limit expanding from five kilometres to 10.
The government has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for construction workers, and banned them from travelling between Melbourne and the regions for work.