Victoria has confirmed another 208 local coronavirus cases, the first time cases have tipped above 200 in more than a year, and another death.
The spike in case numbers reported on Friday comes after 3000 people were swabbed as part of day 13 testing in Shepparton on Thursday.
Premier Daniel Andrews said a man in his 60s had become the third to die in Victoria’s latest outbreak.
Only 96 of Friday’s 208 cases have been linked to known outbreaks, leaving 112 potential mystery cases. They came after 48,572 people were tested for the virus.
One new case was reported in hotel quarantine, and 33,511 vaccine doses were administered at state-run hubs.
Friday is the first day for playgrounds to be reopened in the state for children aged 12 and under, with rules including QR code check-ins and mask-wearing for the one person allowed to supervise play sessions.
The state’s exposure sites have risen to more than 1000, including a fertility clinic in the same building as the Victorian Parliament’s press gallery.
On Thursday, Health Minister Martin Foley said Burnet Institute research suggested Victoria’s lockdown had avoided a further 6000 cases in the past month, but now was the time to pivot.
“You’ve got to follow the advice of the science. Delta has changed the script,” he said.
To aid Victoria’s quest to ramp up vaccinations, the interval between doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been halved to six weeks.
The move, effective immediately, makes the wait time between AstraZeneca doses the same as for Pfizer and will help the state reach its 80 per cent double dose target faster.
Late on Thursday, the Victorian government announced a tightening of border restrictions, including a ban on crossing to use physical recreation facilities.
The number of communities in the border bubble has also been reduced with Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, City of Benalla, Buloke, Loddon, Yarriambiack and two NSW LGAs, Broken Hill and Edward River, no longer defined as cross border communities.
The Specified Worker List has also been reduced and testing obligations for those entering on a Specified Worker Permit have been extended.
Queensland clear of scare
Queensland had no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, despite concerns about two infected truck drivers and a family accused of making an illegal trip to Victoria and back.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was tremendous news that the family of five from the Gold Coast had tested negative after their trip.
She said chief health officer Jeannette Young was also confident the risk from two truck drivers who were in Queensland while infectious was low.
The Gold Coast family accused of making the illegal trip to Victoria is now co-operating with authorities after initially refusing to be tested.
They will have to serve 14 days in quarantine despite returning negative tests. The family’s Melbourne road trip emerged only when two of the children told classmates about it earlier this week.