Victoria’s closure to begin at 8 p.m. as COVID-19 cases linked to Al-Taqwa grow
Andrews justified the closure of regional areas, citing sewer tests at Wangaratta in northeast Victoria that indicated that COVID-19 could be present in the community.
“We have some reason to believe that there is COVID-19 in that community or has been in that community. We saw last time, a few weeks ago, this went from Melbourne to Bacchus Marsh, Barwon Heads, to Mildura. We all have to work as hard as we can to prevent it from spreading further than it already has. “
The government is confident that the rigidity of current rules, with home visiting prohibited and strict density limits, means the outbreak is unlikely to have spread rapidly, but the infectivity of the Delta strain means officials are being extremely cautious in making decisions. .
Referring to the quick releases to counter the infectious variant of Delta, Andrews said: “If you look at the Doherty [Institute] modeling, the Prime Minister has been very clear, the Federal Treasurer, everyone has been very clear about the fact that there is only one real way to deal with the Delta outbreaks.
“We are still waiting for interviews, test results, genomic sequencing. There is a lot of work going on this morning and there will be more during the day. And if I have more information to share with you and the Victorian community, I will.
“But what I can indicate, obviously, is that the government’s priority is to prevent what is happening in Sydney. We have to do everything we can to prevent cases from getting out of hand like in Sydney. “
Andrews added that no one should bet on the restrictions changing on Tuesday, in accordance with the two-week deadline set by the government when the fifth state lockdown ended about nine days ago.
Health Minister Martin Foley also declined to rule out a quick lockdown, as he revealed that two additional cases of coronavirus had been identified in addition to the six reported Thursday morning.
Three schools closed, the list of exposure sites increased to 63, and health authorities worked through the night to try to find out how three of the new cases contracted the virus. The remaining cases are related to existing outbreaks.
Foley said discussions are underway about implementing tougher restrictions.
“We have nothing to say at this time. When we receive public health advice on how to respond, we will make sure to share it as quickly as possible, ”he said.
Health officials remain concerned that an infected teacher at Al-Taqwa College in Truganina, who was announced as a positive case Wednesday night, may have generated cases in the several days she was infectious in the community.
Almost 2,500 students and teachers from Al-Taqwa College in Truganina are now isolated at home after she taught at the school last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Foley said health authorities hope that more than 10,000 people will soon become the main close contacts of the new outbreak and will be forced to isolate themselves.
“Given our understanding of the school community, as well as the other exhibition sites that are connecting, we will very quickly move to 10,000 close contacts and secondary contacts in a matter of hours, if not days,” he said.
“Numerous exposure sites have been posted online so far and as interviews and job verification continue, we forecast more exposure sites will be listed.”
The teacher’s partner, a man in his 20s who works in Caroline Springs and plays soccer for Newport Football Club, was one of the new positive cases Thursday.
Two more of his relatives have since tested positive, but will be officially recorded in Friday’s numbers.
A third new case under investigation is that of a man in his 20s who lives in Maribyrnong and works in a warehouse in Derrimut.
On Thursday, more than 20 new exposure sites spanning southwest to northwest Melbourne were added to a growing list of high-risk locations and a coronavirus testing site was established on the grounds of Al-Taqwa College.
At least three more schools with ties to Al-Taqwa College have also closed several campuses and students will continue their classes from home.
Ilim College has closed three campuses in North Melbourne, the Australian International Academy has closed two campuses in Coburg and Caroline Springs and the Islamic College of Melbourne has closed its Tarneit campus for two days.
There are now 12 top-tier spots among the new sites listed in the Victoria Government Coronavirus Exposure Sites, which include doctor’s office, pharmacy, cafes, supermarkets, gymnasium, and optometrist’s office.
The Western Region Soccer League confirmed that a Newport Football Club player had tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and had played a senior game Saturday against West Footscray, but did not attend club training on Tuesday.
Two new Tier 2 Exposure Sites, one at Newport Football Club in Altona North and one at West Footscray Football Club in West Footscray, have been added to the state government’s list of Exposure Sites and players and officials have been advised to get tested and isolated until further notice.
27,279 tests were processed while 17,229 doses of vaccine were administered statewide. There are now 80 active cases statewide.
Vaccines offered at the Al-Taqwa test site
All staff members, students 16 and over and their family members who showed up for testing today at Al-Taqwa College in West Melbourne have been offered a Pfizer vaccine.
State Education Minister James Merlino revealed in question time that an “emerging vaccination pilot program” had been launched this morning.
“Pfizer’s availability for the program is possible following Victoria’s decision to change Pfizer’s second recommended dose to six weeks,” Merlino said.
“This program will provide the department with data on emerging vaccination coverage, which will inform future vaccine programs once more supplies are available.”
Victoria widened the gap between Pfizer doses at state clinics from three to six weeks on the weekend in a move that will release about 100,000 additional first doses in the coming weeks. The goal is to provide as many eligible Victorians as possible with at least partial protection against COVID-19 before Commonwealth supplies become more abundant starting in September.
Altona North GP and former president of the Australian Victoria Medical Association, Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal, made a passionate plea for people to get vaccinated.
“This is so dangerous, so easy to achieve that we are being so cautious and closing the entire school … it is done for good reason, with good science,” he said.
“I think we have to correctly convey our central message, and the central message must be, you need to get vaccinated because you don’t want to die. You don’t want the people around you to get sick. “
The new Tier 1 sites include several stores in Caroline Springs’ CS Square shopping center, where a positive case is believed to have worked at Spectacle Hub on July 29-30 and August 2-3.
Other Tier 1 sites include the Elm Rd Family Clinic in Altona North on July 31, Elite Sports Performance Gym in Spotswood on August 3, and Wolf Cafe & Eatery, also in Altona North, on August 1.
The health department also listed several Tier 2 sites in southwest Melbourne, including Newport 1881 Coffee – Pastries on July 29 and 30 and Pharmacy 4 Less and Caltex Woolworths in Altona North on July 31.
Other Tier 2 sites include Woolworths in Caroline Springs on July 29 and Star Pizza & Pasta Cafe on July 31.
NSW records 262 new local cases, five deaths
NSW reported 262 new local COVID-19 cases and five deaths on Thursday, the highest number of local cases ever recorded in the state in a 24-hour period.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed that three 60-year-old men, a 70-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman had died.
Ms. Berejiklian said that “unfortunately, four of those five people were not vaccinated at all … I cannot stress enough how important it is that everyone, of all ages, comes forward and gets vaccinated.”
He said the ongoing Sydney outbreak had revealed that the spread of the Delta variant would not be slowed by further restrictions, but by increased vaccination rates in the western suburbs.
Announcing the shutdown Thursday afternoon, Andrews said the outbreak in New South Wales was inevitably hitting Victoria.
“Nobody is more upset than me to see that the cases in Sydney increase because their problem is our problem.
“It is not to criticize or be obsessed with Sydney, but if they opened tomorrow, the hospitals would be invaded in a matter of days. We don’t want that to happen here, or anywhere else. “
Andrews said he was surprised to hear that the additional Pfizer vaccines were going to New South Wales and that he had requested an increase in supply from Victoria.
With David Estcourt, Hanna Mills Turbet, Mary Ward, Sarah McPhee and Cassandra Morgan