Victorian authorities have refused to rule out an extension to the state’s lockdown, after 20 new COVID cases on Tuesday.
All of the new cases were linked to known outbreaks but only five were in quarantine throughout their infectious period, a trend the state government hopes will improve.
Health Minister Martin Foley would not say whether the state’s sixth lockdown would end as planned on Thursday, claiming decisions were being made on an “hour-by-hour basis”.
“I don’t know what the future brings, the crystal ball hasn’t fired up lately,” he said.
“As soon as that decision is made we will be sharing it with all Victorians.”
There are more than 12,000 close contacts of infected cases self-isolating and almost 250 exposure sites across Melbourne.
- See all of Victoria’s exposure sites here
Of greatest concern to authorities is Caroline Springs Square Shopping Centre, where half of Tuesday’s new cases contracted the virus.
There are now 25 COVID cases associated with the centre, linked through a host of shops and offices, including a BWS, and Aldi, a real estate office and a pharmacy.
The whole centre has been named as a tier two exposure site, and people in the outer-Melbourne suburb are urged to get tested.
“It’s a busy, important shopping centre,” testing commander Jeroen Weimar said on Tuesday.
“Can I also just add my thanks for all those retailers and businesses in
the shopping centre. I know it’s incredibly distressing to be part of an exposure site.
“It is of no fault to any of the businesses concerned, let alone the individuals concerned. But, as we know, the virus doesn’t stop for anybody and doesn’t stop for any business.”
Victorian authorities have said previously they want to see all new virus cases in quarantine throughout their infectious period.
“Yesterday we had one case quarantining for the whole infectious period … [Today] five had been quarantining for their entire infectious period. That’s good,” Mr Foley said.
“Fifteen have been out in the community. And there’s been transmissions through a number of schools. So that’s on the riskier side of things. I think it’s fair to characterise it as progress but still some way to go.”
Demand for vaccination has also soared since state-run hubs began on Monday to offer AstraZeneca shots to anyone over 18. Mr Foley said 2366 first doses of AstraZeneca were given in the hubs on Monday.
“That is a more than threefold increase when compared to the Monday of the previous week,” he said.
“Clearly, young people have assessed their personal situation in a strong and informed manner and many are determining that there are significant risks in remaining unvaccinated during the Delta outbreak, and during lockdown and they’ve made a balanced and pretty straightforward decision as to where their interests and the community interests lie, because they know it’s not just about them.”
The pop-up vaccination clinic set up in conjunction with COVID testing at Al-Taqwa College in Truganina, when a virus case was confirmed last week, has administered
“That’s more than half the school and keep in mind that many of the families had also gone to other vaccination centres … Some have already in fact been vaccinated,” Mr Foley said.
From Tuesday, a dedicated vaccination clinic for schools in the Wyndham area, in Melbourne’s outer-west, will also open.
“This is as part of that expansion of trials to make sure that, because of this particular outbreak having such a strong focus on school communities, we want to dedicate the response where the need is the greatest,” he said.