Victoria records 514 new local COVID-19 cases as Ballarat re-enters lockdown

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Victorians are hours away from finding out if the 70 per cent first-dose vaccine target has been reached to allow a modest easing of COVID-19 restrictions even as the state records 514 new local cases and Ballarat residents enter their first day of a snap lockdown.

The daily coronavirus case tally is a record for the current, expanding Delta outbreak.

Of the new cases, 148 have been linked to known clusters, meaning more than 350 cases remain a mystery.

Ballarat starts its seven-day lockdown today.Credit:Penny Stephens

The Department of Health said 41,758 vaccines were administered in the 24 hours to midnight on Wednesday, while 61,961 test results were returned.

There are now 4,370 active cases in the state.

The figures come as The Alfred’s emergency and trauma centre was listed as a tier 1 exposure site and as the state inched closer to reaching its 70 per cent first-dose vaccine target one week ahead of schedule.

With the state just 1.7 per cent shy of the target set by government, and surpassing the goal of 1 million jabs within five weeks on Wednesday, Premier Daniel Andrews was hopeful the 70 per cent first-dose goal would be reached on Thursday.

“We should hit 70 tomorrow,” Mr Andrews told Wednesday’s COVID-19 press conference.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s public-health team met senior ministers on Wednesday night to discuss potential changes, expected to be announced on Thursday.

The modest changes being considered included extending restrictions on movement from five to 10 kilometres from home, an increase to the two-hour time limit on exercise and reopening outdoor gyms and skate parks.

Mr Andrews said he was considering “social interaction” – in other words, small outdoor gatherings – as well.

The Premier also said he may wait until Sunday to implement some changes when he plans to reveal the state’s long-term road map out of lockdown.

Professor Sutton said on Wednesday – before more than 500 new cases were announced – that Melbourne’s case numbers seemed to have stabilised in the past few days, but the “risk of it getting to 1000 [per day] is real”.

The figures come as Ballarat began the first day of a week-long snap lockdown on Thursday after the city of about 100,000 recorded four cases and wastewater detection, with more expected in coming days.

Premier Daniel Andrews, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar on Wednesday.Credit: Eddie Jim

Exposure sites list grows to include Alfred’s emergency centre

The Alfred’s emergency and trauma centre was listed as a tier 1 exposure site overnight, as was a construction site and an early learning centre attached to a junior school in Ballarat.

A construction site in Cerberus Lane in Canadian, a suburb of Ballarat, was listed as a tier one exposure site on Wednesday night, after a case attended the worksite on September 10 from 6.50am to 5.30pm.

Clarendon College’s Early Learning Centre is also a tier 1 exposure site on September 10, from 8.15am to 9am.

But The Ballarat Courier is reporting anyone who attended the Mair Street campus, including the junior school, at any time last Friday is now subject to a 48-hour “stop and stay” directive, meaning they must go home immediately and get tested after a child tested positive.

“Given the speed with which the Delta variant is moving from person to person, anyone associated with the school, and their household, is asked to quarantine for 48 hours in the first instance,” Grampians Public Health clinical director Dr Karen Aarons wrote to parents.

A playground, an IGA and two shops have also been added to the list of exposure sites in the city.

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