'We will open up': Premier commits to re-opening as Victoria posts a record 2,297 new COVID-19 cases

Daniel Andrews said it was too early to say whether the state had peaked with Thursday's figures.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media outside Parliament House in Melbourne, Thursday, October 14, 2021. (AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media outside Parliament House. Source: AAP

Premier Daniel Andrews says Victoria will continue with its roadmap out of lockdown despite reporting a record 2,297 new local coronavirus cases and 11 deaths on Thursday.

It's the highest daily tally for any Australian jurisdiction during the pandemic.

Authorities say 82,762 test results were received in the past 24 hours. There are now 20,505 active cases in the state. 

Authorities say 706 people are in hospital, of which 90 per cent are not fully vaccinated.

The state’s seven-day average of cases sits at 1,871.

Mr Andrews said it was too soon to say if the state’s numbers will peak with today’s figures.

The premier confirmed the state’s re-opening roadmap would proceed regardless, although he didn’t rule out tweaks to the easing of restrictions.

“We have, fundamentally, a very important agreement with the Victorian community - you get vaccinated and we will open up, and I do what I say,” he said.

“There will be discussions over the next few days and we will answer questions about when the lockdown ends, the precise moment, as well as any additional steps, any changes to be roadmap we can make, but we are going to deliver the roadmap.”

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The premier said case numbers would be less relevant to the state’s coronavirus response once the state hit 70 per cent double dose vaccination.

As of Wednesday, 86.7 per cent of adult Victorians have received one vaccine dose, and 61.5 per cent are fully vaccinated. 

But health authorities remain concerned there is undetected transmission occurring in parts of regional Victoria and south-eastern Melbourne.

COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said regional areas including Geelong, Shepparton and the Latrobe Valley had recorded “significant growth” in the past 24 hours.

There were also rises reported in the suburbs of Dandenong, Kingston, Cardinia, Monash and Port Phillip.

“We are still seeing a fairly high positive detection rate, around 4 per cent in the south-east,” Mr Weimar said.

“We want to make sure more people come forward with testing to make sure we get to the bottom of all of those cases that might still be out there.”

Victoria posts a record 2,297 new COVID-19 cases

Among the cases reported today, 1,245 households had not recorded COVID-19 infections before.

“We certainly know there are significant amounts of household transmission,” Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie told reporters.

Prof Cowie said there was "no single event" to pin the increase on.

"There are some trends which we're exploring ... which start to build the picture," he said.

"We believe we have undetected transmission occurring in the community, which is just coming to the surface."

He added that Victoria did not yet have the level of vaccination needed to bring case numbers down, but said vaccination rates were putting "substantial downward pressure on transmission".

VCE Safety plan

Education Minister James Merlino unveiled “significant changes” and strict health protocols to ensure VCE students across the state can safely undertake end of year exams.

From next week, those students who are considered primary close contacts will sit their exams in a separate room to other students, by themselves or socially distanced from other students depending on capacity.

Staff supervising them will be required to wear face shields and healthcare worker standard PPE.

Rooms will need to be well ventilated and cleaned regularly.

Firbank Grammar year 11 student Holly Fletcher (right) receives a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test administer by a TLC Healthcare worker.
Source: AAP

More than 80 per cent of Victorians aged 17 and 18 have received their first dose, and over 75 per cent are expected to be fully vaccinated by 27 October when written exams commence.

Students who test positive not be able to attend school or sit their exam, given special consideration and a derived score instead.

“If there's a positive case and we need to close a school, it will be closed for a very, very short period of time - around a day or so,” Mr Merlino said.

“We're trying to minimise the number of primary close contacts and minimise the time that a school is closed.”

Forty-nine schools across the state have been impacted by positive cases in the past 10 days.

The isolation rules remain unchanged for younger students.

A wider trial of rapid antigen testing will also be rolled out ahead of 1 November, when the process will be introduced broadly. 

Parliamentary mandate

COVID-19 vaccine mandate for politicians and staff entering Victorian parliament has passed the lower house, with just one dissenting MP.

The state government has imposed a rule that all members and staff must prove they've received at least one dose of a vaccine by 15 October to continue working on site, or have an appointment booked before 22 October.

They will also need to have their second dose by 26 November.

Any member who does not comply will be suspended from entering parliament until the second sitting day of the 2022 parliamentary year.

The government motion was supported by the Liberals, Nationals, Greens and the independent member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed.

However, Liberal MP for Forest Hill, Neil Angus, spoke against the motion entirely, prompting a failed division on it - during which he was the only person to vote no.

Mr Angus is the only one in the Liberal party room who isn't vaccinated.

With AAP

Published 14 October 2021 at 8:30am, updated 14 October 2021 at 12:23pm
By Naveen Razik
Source: SBS News