News Regional Victorian town out of lockdown while interstate spread has other residents on alert
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Regional Victorian town out of lockdown while interstate spread has other residents on alert

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Residents in a South Australian town are on edge and awaiting news of whether they will be locked down.

Tough new restrictions have already been introduced for Mount Gambier City, District Council of Grant and Wattle Range Council in the state’s southeast after a local woman contracted the virus while visiting Victoria.

As of Wednesday morning, there are 14 exposure sites across SA, with the SipnSave at the South Eastern Hotel in Mount Gambier the latest to be revealed.

The spread of Victoria’s outbreak has also increased the coronavirus risk in Tasmania after a teenage boy flew home from Melbourne. Seventeen close contacts have been identified so far but so far there remains just three exposure sites.

The 15-year-old left home quarantine to go to a Launceston IGA supermarket with his cousin last Saturday.

He tested positive to the coronavirus the next day and it then emerged that he had been out in the community without a mask.

Up north, Queenslanders are on alert for another day following the detection of another two local cases.

South East Queensland, Townsville and Palm Island have escaped a widespread outbreak despite at least four positive cases spending time in the community.

That state’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, has said vaccinations were clearly limiting the spread of the virus. Almost half of all eligible Queenslanders are fully vaccinated.

That’s a quick wrap of the situations in the states impacted by a small number of cases.

Now let’s look at what is going on for Australians still living the full lockdown life.

NSW

The new premier, Dominic Perrottet, has flagged he will review “issues” with the roadmap out of lockdown, days before the state is expected to reach its 70 per cent vaccination milestone.

But residents won’t be given an early mark, with plans remaining for lockdown to remain in place until October 11.

Across the state, 88.6 per cent of people aged 16 and over had received their first vaccine, and 67.7 per cent were fully vaccinated as of midnight on Monday.

NSW recorded 608 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and another seven deaths.

The daily case numbers are the lowest since August and it is the fourth day in a row with fewer than 700 cases.

But NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said there had also been “slight decline” in testing numbers.

“We really encourage people to come forward for testing as we get closer to more people getting vaccinated in the community,” Dr McAnulty said in an update on Tuesday.

“It is really important we all maintain our vigilance for symptoms and come forward for testing so we don’t miss cases.”

There were 85,642 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm on Monday.

Six men and one woman with COVID-19 have died, bringing the toll for the current outbreak to 385 deaths.

Five of the people who died were not vaccinated while two had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

There are 978 people in hospital with COVID-19 in NSW, with 190 in intensive care, and 94 on ventilators.

Meanwhile, more than 140,000 students in NSW regional communities have returned to face-to-face learning at school for the start of term four.

Restrictions have also eased in 19 private hospitals in NSW where non-urgent surgery resumes on Tuesday after it was cancelled in late August due to the pandemic.

Non-urgent surgery at public hospitals remains postponed.

Victoria

Wednesday’s case numbers will reveal whether the state will hit yet another record high  in the pandemic.

The state already hit 1763 new locally acquired cases on Tuesday – the highest ever daily figure for any state or territory in Australia.

The spike has already been partly attributed to illegal AFL Grand Final parties like the one in the Latrobe valley that sent that area into lockdown.

It appears the snap shutdown of that area has been successful, as authorities eased restrictions there at midnight.

Other regional cases keep Shepparton, Moorabool and Mitchell Shires in lockdown.

Newly named exposure sites include the public library in the small town of Nathalia, 43 kilometres northwest of Shepparton.

Others named late on Tuesday night are:

  • Only About Children childcare centre in Camberwell;
  • Swan childcare centre in Derrimut.

Meanwhile, locked-down families are getting some sense of normality as Year 12 students return to class on Wednesday.

Senior students be reunited with their teachers and peers in classrooms for two weeks of face-to-face learning before exams.

State health authorities conducted a vaccination blitz for VCE students ahead of the return to school, with hubs set up on campuses in areas with high numbers of COVID cases.

State school classrooms are being ventilation tested, and thousands of carbon monoxide monitoring units and high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) air filters are being installed in spaces with insufficient airflow.

ACT

ACT health authorities have expressed concern after it was revealed a large number of COVID-19 cases were waiting for almost two weeks to get tested after their initial onset of symptoms.

The territory’s chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said while Canberra was still on track to have its lockdown end as scheduled on October 15, many were delaying their COVID tests for too long.

The latest figures showed 10 per cent of coronavirus cases had waited more than five days after developing symptoms to get tested, while almost half of all cases waited two or more days to get tested.

“These statistics are going in the wrong direction,” Dr Coleman said.

“We must stay the course and be vigilant and continue to follow these public health directions until the current lockdown restrictions are raised.

“We need us to be in the strongest position possible as we change these public health measures.”

Among those changes will be a focus on high-risk COVID cases, rather than every person who tests positive.

Dr Coleman said health authorities would shift focus to those who represented the most danger to transmitting the virus to other members of the community.

“Reporting will change as lockdown eases,” she said.

“We do expect to see larger daily case numbers and we need to accept a degree of transmission in the ACT.

“This is inevitable due to a number of things, but mostly due to the highly contagious nature of Delta and more people in the community as we ease restrictions.”

The territory will also move to mandate vaccines for all frontline healthcare workers, which includes workers in hospitals, hospices and ambulance staff.

The deadline for the vaccines has yet to be confirmed, but Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said it was likely healthcare workers would need their first dose by October 29, and be fully vaccinated by December 1.

The ACT now has 93.8 per cent of its over-16s with a first dose of the vaccine, and is leading the country for fully immunised residents, at 67.8 per cent.

There were 33 new COVID-19 cases reported in Canberra on Tuesday, with health authorities expecting there to be higher numbers once lockdown measures are eased.

-with AAP