Victoria has confirmed another 1534 local COVID cases and 13 more deaths as a row brews over mandatory vaccinations for players at next year’s Australian Open.
Wednesday’s daily case number tally continues a welcome trend of infections down on the record highs of nearly 2300 earlier in October.
They also came from a record of more than 83,000 tests in the previous 24 hours – and well up on the fewer than 60,000 in the past three days.
However, the fatalities make it one of the state’s deadliest days in its current outbreak – 247 people have now died since the outbreak began.
The number of COVID patients in Victorian hospitals has also fallen. It is down 69 to 748, from 817 on Tuesday.
It came as the Victorian government said it would have to consider comments by Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggesting that unvaccinated tennis players will be allowed to travel for the Australian Open.
On Wednesday, Mr Morrison Wednesday flagged the move, but said any unvaccinated players would have to quarantine for 14 days.
“If there is a special exemption that is warranted for an economic reason … that can happen but you have to follow the health rules in that state. Two weeks quarantine for unvaccinated people, that is sensible,” he told Nine’s Today show.
Mr Morrison said while there were clear rules requiring Victorians to be vaccinated to take part in economic activity, “there needs to be a little bit of flexibility so we can live with the virus”.
“We want major events in this country, a lot of jobs depends on it. We want Australia to show to the world that we are open,” he said.
His comments contradict Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who last week said athletes would need to be double-vaccinated to enter the country. Premier Daniel Andrews has also been firm in the idea that if the crowd at the Open has to be vaccinated, then players also should be.
On Wednesday, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the state’s public health team would have to “consider what the Prime Minister said”.
“The Victorian government was working on the basis that the position of the Immigration Minister was the position of the government,” he said outside state parliament.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal whether he has received a jab.
Questions about the defending champion’s return to Melbourne Park, where he would be hunting a staggering 10th Australian Open title, were raised when Victoria recently introduced a vaccination mandate for professional athletes.