The outbreak of Victoria’s Delta has spread to new areas of Melbourne and the rest of the state, raising concerns across the city’s southeast.
Most important points:
- A doctor overseeing vaccination in Melbourne’s south-east says it’s “devastating” to see numbers soar in the area
- Community leaders have spoken at a pop-up vaccination center to urge residents to get their shot
- The spread is still attributed to infections within households and illegal contact between different homes
Cases continued to rise, with a record high of 1,488 infections reported in Friday’s tests and 1,220 in tests taken on Saturday.
In recent days, the geography of the virus has shifted from concentration in the north and west of Melbourne to more parts of the city — a pattern largely attributed to banned household gatherings.
Of the 1,220 infections reported Sunday in Saturday’s tests, 497 came from the northern suburbs and 361 from the west.
236 infections had been reported in the southeast, centered around suburbs such as Keysborough, Frankston and Pakenham.
“It’s really terrible to see these numbers increase,” says Rhonda Stuart of Monash Health.
Professor Stuart was one of many health and community leaders at the Palm Plaza in Dandenong on Sunday afternoon, where a pop-up vaccination center is now running.
The clinic is one of 10 hubs that will deliver a portion of 100,000 mRNA Moderna vaccines as of today, in addition to Pfizer and AstraZeneca injections.
“As most of us know, the number of cases is increasing at an alarming rate, so getting vaccinated is very important,” said Mehan Siva of the local Sri Lankan Tamil community.
During the rollout of the vaccine, there is a correlation with lower socioeconomic status and lower vaccination rates, and there were logistical barriers for many to access their recordings.
That pattern is slowly reversing as people have gained more access to vaccines.
The city of Greater Dandenong previously lagged behind in vaccination doses but has seen a surge in recent weeks, along with other hard-hit local government areas such as Hume and Whittlesea.
Andrew Gai, who represents the South Sudanese community and the Refugee Communities Association of Australia, said his message to residents of the area was: “Now is not the time to debate whether or not to vaccinate.”
“Now is the time to find out where to get vaccinated,” he said.
Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said in the south east, as in other parts of Melbourne, there was a high attack rate of the virus within households, meaning all residents would likely be infected.
Second, there was transmission from household to household, often within family and close friendship groups, Mr Weimar said.
He said that “a fair spread” was finally related to social gatherings over the long weekend.
“Because what that has done has taken it from a small number of zip codes to a wider range of locations, and that’s what’s really concerning.”
With infections rising, a comprehensive contact tracing system has begun to notify COVID-positive patients in hotspot areas by SMS, a move that has been met with outrage by some medical professionals.
Mr Weimar said there was a “somewhat encouraging trend in the western suburbs” as vaccination rates had risen, while the rate of growth is now “quite modest”.
But he said authorities were “very concerned” about the southeast and continued to focus on regional Victoria, where more than 400 infections are now active.
“So we’re going to remain very anxious in all those locations. Obviously what we’re looking for in the coming weeks is that we see that lingering effect of higher vaccination levels at the first dose, the second dose starting to slow down and reduce the spread.” “, he said.
But he said people should also “hold onto those behaviors,” such as staying home and getting tested.
“The numbers we see in the next week will be based on the behavior that we’ve all been a part of over the next few days,” he said.