Victorians sweating on whether their COVID lockdown will end as planned at midnight on Tuesday have been urged to keep getting tested for the virus.
State Health Minister Martin Foley said “nothing has yet been finalised” about lifting the lockdown, despite encouraging test results and case numbers.
Victoria had 11 new local COVID-19 cases on Monday. All were linked to current Delta strain outbreaks and were in isolation throughout their entire infectious period.
There was also another infection in hotel quarantine, taking the state’s active infections to 190.
More than 25,000 test results were received in the 24 hours to midnight on Monday, while almost 14,000 vaccine doses were administered at state-run sites during the same period.
“Over the past week, we’ve seen the day of our highest-ever testing numbers in Victoria and yesterday, we saw 25,000 plus tests returned,” Mr Foley said on Monday.
“That together gives us some further comfort that we know what is out there but we can only be sure if Victorians continue to come forward in such strong numbers.”
There are now 179 cases linked to the community Delta outbreak. They include five in hospital, two of them in intensive care.
Mr Foley said state health officials and the government had taken “some comfort” from the fact that all of the 22 local COVID cases at the weekend had been in quarantine while infectious.
“But it is still 22 cases,” he said.
“When you reflect on where we’ve been over the journey of these last 18 months as we’ve dealt with reopening from outbreaks, 22 cases over two days is a significant figure.
“It’s not a risk that we take lightly, but equally, we do take comfort from the fact that they’ve all been in quarantine for the entirety of their infectious period.
“What it points to is that we are on the right track.”
On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria was well placed for a statewide easing of restrictions from midnight Tuesday.
“Nothing has yet been finalised but we are mindful of the need, as soon as possible, as a decision’s been made, to share that with the people of Victoria,” Mr Foley said.
“We’ll have more to say about the specific provisions that apply … as we step carefully and cautiously out of restrictions tomorrow.”
Testing commander Jeroen Weimar said authorities remained focused on potential spread of the virus at the LaCrosse apartment complex in Docklands, where a recent case was living before they tested positive.
The threat of cases emerging from Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne are also a concern.
Even if the lockdown ends as planned, it will be a “careful” stepped easing of restrictions in line with previous versions.
Masks are likely to remain compulsory for some time, along with strict density limits for hospitality and retail traders.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien said small businesses needed more than 24 hours’ notice to reopen.
“They need to know if they’re ordering in stock, they need to bring in staff. For the government to keep this under wraps until tomorrow, it’s just unfair,” he said.
Victorian officials have also highlighted there had been sewage detections in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs in recent days, including Werribee, Tarneit, Truganina, Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park and Pascoe Vale between July 20-July 23.
There are still about 380 coronavirus exposure sites across Victoria, but no new ones have been added since Saturday, when the Morning Market in Fitzroy and an apartment complex in Hawthorn were listed.