Victoria to ease border restrictions as it records 1,420 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths

It comes as child cancer patients and their carers are forced into two weeks of isolation after a COVID-19 outbreak at a Melbourne children's hospital.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley address the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Wednesday, 6 October, 2021.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley address the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Wednesday, 6 October, 2021. Source: AAP

Victoria has recorded 1,420 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths, as the government announces an easing of border restrictions. 

From midnight on Wednesday, red zone areas which are not locked down in NSW and the ACT will be re-classified as orange zones. 

This will effectively allow Victorians and non-residents in those areas to travel to the state, but they will need to take a test within 72 hours of arrival and isolate until they receieve a negative result. 

Extreme risk zones for other parts of NSW that are in lockdown will be downgraded to red, meaning Victorians can return if they isolate at home for 14 days. 

It comes as the state reported the most fatalities of the current outbreak on Wednesday - six women in their 60s to 90s and five men aged in their 50s to 80s. 

The new infections in the 24 hours to midnight Tuesday came from 71,451 tests.

There were 36, 542 vaccine doses administered at state-run hubs, with 54 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and over now having received both vaccine doses. 

There are 525 Victorians in hospital with the virus, with 94 in intensive care, 53 who require ventilation. Six per cent of those in hospital are fully vaccinated. 

Meanwhile, child cancer patients and their carers have been forced into two weeks of isolation after a COVID-19 outbreak at a Melbourne children's hospital.

Royal Children's Hospital chief executive Bernadette McDonald says the parent of a child being treated for cancer in the Kookaburra ward tested positive for the virus "a couple of days ago".

She said the parent visited the hospital a few days before testing positive for COVID-19, with the ward now classified as a tier-one exposure site and all contacts required to isolate for 14 days.

Affected hospital patients and their parents or carers have been placed into single rooms within the hospital to quarantine.

"Every time we get an exposure site across the hospital it's concerning to all of us, and we're trying to minimise that as much as possible," she said.

"But we do know COVID in children is not as extreme. We're glad we've got lots of single rooms so we can isolate people quite safely."

She said the hospital's policy allowed one parent or carer to visit with a child "so that their care is maximised and they feel less anxious".

"That's a fine balance between restricting visitors and not having any visitors or parents at all," Ms McDonald said.

"We've got very clear screening processes in place."

Rapid antigen testing ramped up

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley on Wednesday announced the government will begin rolling out rapid antigen testing, with healthcare workers being first in line. 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration last week gave the green light to use of self-testing kits from November, subject to final tests and approvals. 

Mr Foley said the government has purchased 2.2 million tests to assist the state's health system when lockdown ends. They will eventually be used in schools, childcare centres, corrections facilities and emergency services, he said. 

“It will then, of course, not just stop at our healthcare system. It will then be rolled onto - through a whole-of-government process - through other particularly risky settings where it will add to the tool kit for settings to monitor how we identify COVID in a higher vaccinated Victorian community,” he said. 

It comes as the CFMEU is poised to expel members who participated in violent protests outside its Melbourne office.

At least seven infections are linked to the CFMEU headquarters protest on 20 September, when demonstrators threw bottles at union officials and smashed the office's door down in protest against mandatory vaccinations and other construction industry restrictions.

Victorian CFMEU boss John Setka said dozens of families and children had been affected, and officials were reviewing footage to identify members.

"They'll be fronting the executive of the union and they'll have to answer for their actions," he told Nine's Today on Wednesday.

"In some of the cases, in some of the footage that I've seen, they'll probably be expelled from the union."

With AAP. 

Published 6 October 2021 at 9:26am, updated 6 October 2021 at 5:05pm
By Dijana Damjanovic
Source: SBS News