News Coronavirus Victoria’s latest daily COVID numbers register significant decline
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Victoria’s latest daily COVID numbers register significant decline

Vaccine refuseniks rallied in one part of Melbourne's CBD, while anti-fascists turned out across town to support mandatory inoculations. Photo: Facebook
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Victoria has added 980 new infections to its COVID-19 caseload and recorded a further seven virus-related deaths.

The latest daily represents a significant drop on the previous days’ 1365 newly identified infections.

Victoria is managing 15,433 active coronavirus cases. Some 299 virus patients are being cared for in Victorian hospitals, with 40 of them in ICUs and 16 requiring ventilation.

Health officials say COVID testers managed to process more than 65,000 results in the 24 hours to Saturday evening.

Victoria is now 91 per cent fully vaccinated for everyone aged 12 and over.

Up to 10,000 people protested in central Melbourne on Saturday, in the first mass demonstration since the Victorian government passed pandemic laws.

The crowd marched through Treasury Gardens shouting “Sack Dan Andrews” and “Freedom” and carried Eureka and national flags as well as Donald Trump placards.

They sang The Seekers‘ I Am Australian before hearing speeches from ex-Liberal MP turned United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly and others.

The gathering moved on to Flinders Street Station before some headed for the ABC’s Southbank studios and asked to speak with the public broadcaster’s chair Ita Buttrose, who lives in Sydney.

Pro-vax counter-rally

They then set up outside Government House, the official residence of the state’s governor, who will sign off on the pandemic bill.

In nearby Carlton, a counter-rally against far-right elements of the so-called “freedom protests” was also held.

There have been almost weekly demonstrations in Melbourne against vaccination mandates and pandemic laws, with concerns some protesters have links to neo-Nazi or far-right conspiracy groups.

The government’s controversial new legislation, which passed state parliament on Thursday, makes the premier and health minister responsible for declaring pandemics and making health orders.

It will replace the existing state of emergency on December 16 and makes Victoria the first state in Australia with pandemic-specific laws.

Health Minister Martin Foley suggested demonstrators are complaining about aspects of laws that have already been altered.

“Protests should be peaceful and they should be based on up-to-date information and facts,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“What we now have is a set of legislative arrangements that allow a balance between the public health response that keeps us safe and open.”

There are currently 39 COVID-19 cases linked to mass protests in Melbourne last month, with three people hospitalised and one in intensive care.

-AAP