Victoria’s Covid infections have fallen slightly with Melbourne’s 246-day lockdown to become the longest in the world on Tuesday.
And while New South Wales registered a substantial drop in local Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the state continued to see a rise in Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Victoria reported 1,220 new locally acquired coronavirus cases on Sunday, down from 1,488 the day before, and three deaths: a man in his 50s, a woman in his 70s and a man in his 80s.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said there were 476 people hospitalized statewide, with 98 people in intensive care and 57 on a ventilator. Of this, only five percent are fully vaccinated.
Andrews said 51.9% of Victoria’s over 16s have been fully vaccinated, while 82.6% have now received at least one dose.
Starting Monday, the wait time between Pfizer dosing intervals at state-run clinics will go from six weeks to three weeks.
As of Tuesday, October 5, Melbourne will have been in lockdown for 246 days, overtaking Buenos Aires as the city that has spent the most cumulative days with stay at home.
NSW authorities reported 667 new infections, down from 813 cases recorded in the previous 24-hour period.
NSW Health Secretary Brad Hazzard said this was a “dramatic drop” in new cases. However, 10 people had died: two in their fifties, four in their sixties, two in their seventies and two in their eighties. Of these, four people had not been vaccinated, four had received one dose and two had been fully vaccinated.
Hazzard has also drawn up new guidelines for companies. Companies will be responsible for taking “reasonable measures” to prevent unvaccinated people from entering their buildings under updated rules for the state’s roadmap to get out of lockdown.
This means prominent signage, QR code check-ins, staff checking vaccination status upon entry and only accepting valid forms of documentation are all business.
Authorized officials will oversee the reopening of businesses, especially those with vaccination requirements, and fines, including on-the-spot fines, can file for non-compliance — up to $1,000 for individuals and $5,000 for businesses.
Authorities also reported that 88.1% of the state’s eligible population have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 66.5% have been fully vaccinated.
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said that while the declining number of cases was positive, she warned that the virus was spreading across regional areas, including in Wollongong, Newcastle, Maitland, Wellington, Queanbeyan and Deniliquin.
Chant said a day of falling numbers of cases “doesn’t make a trend,” and said health authorities won’t be fully confident that the number of infections will fall until Wednesday or Thursday.
She said the next week will be “critical” and urged residents to increase the number of people being tested, after 88,000 people were tested in the 24 hours to Sunday.
The state is on track to meet the 70% double-dose vaccine target by mid-week. Restrictions are being eased to allow fully vaccinated residents to have five visitors in their homes, access gyms and indoor sports facilities and visit hospitality venues, with a maximum of 20 people per booking.
Chant also announced that as of October 11, close contacts who are fully vaccinated will only need to test and isolate for seven days, instead of 14 days.
But Hazzard also warned residents not to “ruin” the state’s hard work thus far and breach lockdown restrictions to celebrate Sunday’s NRL grand finale.
The warning came after Victoria reported a record high of 1,488 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, with authorities attributing the rise in infections in part to illegal AFL grand finals rallies last weekend.
Meanwhile, the ACT announced 38 new local Covid-19 infections, a drop after recording 52 cases for two consecutive days.
Of the 38 new cases, 14 were quarantined during their entire contagious period, while at least 16 people spent part of their contagious period in the community.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said 14 people with Covid-19 are in hospital. Of these, five are in intensive care and three require ventilators.
In South Australia, a Mt Gambier woman who flew home from Melbourne to Adelaide on a Jetstar flight home to Adelaide has tested positive for the virus.
Queensland has not announced any new cases of coronavirus in the community.
dr. Jeannette Young, Queensland Chief Health Officer said she was confident the state prevented this latest outbreak.
“I think one of the reasons we’ve managed to contain nearly 50 outbreaks of the virus over the past few months is that we find pretty much the first case in every outbreak,” she said.
“Which means we can get it up and running very quickly and thank you for the help people are giving our contact tracers.”
But in TasmaniaPrime Minister Peter Gutwein revealed that a 15-year-old teenager had tested positive for the virus after traveling with permission from Melbourne on Friday.
The teen had mild symptoms but was taken to Launceston General Hospital and transferred to a quarantine facility with a family member. Gutwein said four family members were considered close contacts.
As of Sunday, 79.4% of Australians aged 16 and over have received at least one vaccine dose, while 56.5% have received both shots.
The Herald Sun reported on Sunday that Australians could receive Covid-19 booster shots “as early as December” and confirmed there are enough boosters for every Australian, pending approval for their use.