Melbourne has become the most locked down city in the world on Monday, with 246 days living under stay-at-home orders and surpassing the previous record of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.
In fact Melbourne will far exceed that record as the city’s lockdown continues, with restrictions not expected to change until the end of October when 70 per cent double dose is achieved.
However Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews hopes the halving of the Pfizer vaccine interval from six weeks to three will help speed up the process and he urged the state to make a final push before lockdown ends.
“We are going to get past this. We are going to end this lockdown and open up, and all that we will enjoy then will be a result of all that we have given,” he said on Sunday.
Victoria reported 1220 new locally-acquired cases and three deaths on Sunday, with 98 people in ICU and 57 requiring a ventilator.
It comes as NSW begins its final scheduled week in lockdown before homes and hospitality businesses can once again welcome visitors when some rules are lifted on October 11.
The NSW government on Sunday outlined new public health advice to come into effect when the state reaches its 70 per cent double dose vaccination target.
Under the advice, which may change as case numbers do, vaccinated and unvaccinated people will have different isolation times if they are a close contact of a COVID-19 case.
Vaccinated close contacts of a positive case must get tested and isolate for seven days.
On the sixth day they must get tested again and if the result is negative, they can end isolation after day seven.
They must work from home for an additional week where possible and not attend hospitality or high-risk settings, even if it is their place of work.
Unvaccinated close contacts must get tested and isolate for 14 days, get tested again at 12 days and if a negative result is received isolation can end after the fortnight.
Everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, with COVID-19 symptoms has been urged to get tested and self-isolate and anyone who tests positive must still isolate for 14 days.
Businesses will be responsible for taking “reasonable measures to stop unvaccinated people entering premises” such as having prominent signs, QR code requirements and only accepting valid proof of vaccination.
Hospitality, retail, gyms, hairdressers and beauty salons will be monitored by authorised officers and on-the-spot fines of $1000 will apply to individuals who do not comply or use fraudulent vaccination records.
Businesses may be fined $5000 for breaching the rules.
NSW on Sunday reported 667 new locally acquired cases and 10 deaths, the first time daily case numbers have been below 700 since August 19.
COVID patients ‘begging’ for vaccine
More ICU beds will open at the Royal Melbourne on Monday for severely ill patients waiting to get in as Burnett Institute modelling predicts hospitalisations will peak between 1200 to 2500 in mid- to late-October.
A Melbourne nurse revealed how unvaccinated COVID patients are “begging” to be given the jab as they are placed on life support, but by then it is too late.
One such patient included a man in his 30s with no underlying conditions.
“They are very young and once we get to that point where we are about to put them on life support, it really is too late,” said Michelle Spence, a nurse unit manager at Royal Melbourne Hospital ICU.
Ms Spence choked up as she described the lonely deaths of people in ICU over the last 18 months, and implored Victorians not to delay getting the jab.
“I know you’re frustrated. I know you’re scared. I know you’re over it. We’re all over it. But it’s time to absolutely make a difference,” she said.
Michelle's an ICU nurse unit manager at @TheRMH
Every day she treats Victorians facing life and death because of coronavirus – some in their 20s and 30s.
She sees what it does, she helps them breathe, and she holds their hands.
And she has one thing to tell us: pic.twitter.com/16dQWkunkS
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) October 3, 2021
Jacqui Harper, nurse unit manager at the Northern Hospital, said staff were holding up iPads so dying patients could farewell their family.
“The clinical deterioration is so sad. One minute sitting in a chair, an hour later, they could be saying their goodbyes,” she said.
Million reasons to get jabbed
Australians who get vaccinated will have the chance to win $1 million after philanthropists launched a campaign aimed at accelerating the national rollout.
The lottery will give away $4.1 million worth of prizes, with the big ticket item of $1 million in cash drawn on November 5.
Some 3100 $1000 gift cards will also be drawn throughout October.
Funded by philanthropists and corporations, the campaign aims to boost national vaccination rates above 80 per cent, a key reopening target under the national plan.
But Craig Winkler of the Million Dollar Vax Alliance says it is not designed to convince vaccine-hesitant Australians to get the jab.
“The promotion simply seeks to reward people who decide to be vaccinated now rather than waiting, so that we can reduce the community impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“The aim is to accelerate Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program in a safe way throughout the month of October.
“The faster we reach higher vaccination rates nationally, higher than 80 per cent, the sooner we all can safely resume our full range of community and business activity.”
The initiative is inspired by the Ohio ‘Vax-A-Million’ campaign, and Philanthropy Australia chief executive Jack Heath hopes their version will “save lives, ease the burden on healthcare workers, and benefit the wider community”.
All Australian adults are eligible to enter the competition online, as long as they’ve received a first dose on or before October 31.
Prizes will only be dished out to those fully vaccinated by December 13, six weeks after the cut-off date.