Victoria posts another 1,510 COVID-19 cases as new pandemic laws are considered

The new laws would give the premier the power to declare a pandemic on the advice of the chief health officer.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley address the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Wednesday, October 6, 2021. Victoria has reported 1420 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths. (AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley address the media during a press conference in Melbourne. Source: AAP Image/James Ross

Victoria has recorded 1,510 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and four more deaths, as new pandemic laws are introduced to state parliament. 

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said under the laws, the premier would be able to declare a pandemic after considering the advice of chief health officers and the public health team.

“Under the updated pandemic management framework, the Chief Health Officer’s public health advice will in fact be more central, more transparent and more present in the public debate than it has ever been,” he told reporters on Tuesday. 

Mr Foley said a report setting out the reasons for the declaration of the pandemic and both the advice of the minister and the chief health officer then has to be tabled in both houses of parliament. 

“No other state or territory requires that arrangement,” he said.

“This declaration can be made initially for four weeks but can be extended for a three-month period until the pandemic no longer represents a serious risk to the community.”

Mr Foley said the laws will replace the current framework where state of emergency arrangements need to be reviewed and extended by the minister every four weeks."

“These orders replace the current public health directions and become pandemic directions,” he said.

“They will include things like…the next stage of how quarantine [works] for infectious people, how potential third booster doses, should they be approved by the Commonwealth, get managed."

“How we restrict and protect the community from the ongoing, by changing risk of this global pandemic.”

Healthcare worker is seen working at a drive-through Covid19 testing facility in Melbourne.
Source: AAP

“Placing so much power in the hands of one person … would be unprecedented,” he said.

“We see these laws as an incredible attack on democracy, usurping the parliament, usurping the cabinet process, which is what exists in NSW, and then allowing the premier to effectively rule by decree, for months on end.”

But Mr Foley said the opposition had been peddling “conspiratorial nonsense” and becoming “increasingly hysterical” in discussions around the government’s pandemic response.

Victoria posts another 1,510 COVID-19 cases as new pandemic laws to be introduced

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he felt the proposed laws were “appropriate” and would ensure the state is prepared for future pandemics.

“It is interesting that World Health Organization didn't informally declare pandemic for some weeks after we saw human to human transmission,’” he said.

“This legislation gives a... definition of what a pandemic is and if we see a virus with significant human illness occurring from it… even if it's not in Australia, we might want some those protections to kick in in terms of the by security measures and ports of entry for screening procedures and testing that might occur.”  

As of Tuesday morning, the state has 24,715 active cases of COVID-19.

There are 817 people in hospital, including 147 in intensive care, 88 of whom require ventilation. 

Of those people in hospital, 87 per cent were not fully vaccinated. Ninety-six per cent of people in intensive care were not fully vaccinated. 

“That is not a statistic, it is a story of people, but it tells you everything you need to know that if you are vaccinated, double dose protected, then your chances of ending up in hospital really unwell is very small,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday. 

“Put another way, the protection that these vaccines give you is clearly proven and they will keep you out of hospital.”

The latest deaths take the toll from the current outbreak to 234. 

About 75 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and over are now fully vaccinated. 

Restrictions will ease further and align across the state from 6pm on Friday.

The long-running ban on travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria will be scrapped, masks will no longer need to be worn outdoors, and entertainment venues, gyms and retail stores can reopen indoors to fully vaccinated patrons.

The Victorian government has also announced almost all coronavirus restrictions will end once 90 per cent of the population aged over 12 are fully vaccinated. 

With AAP

Published 26 October 2021 at 9:22am, updated 26 October 2021 at 3:00pm
By Eden Gillespie
Source: SBS News