As Victoria is on track to meet its 70 percent double vaccination target ahead of schedule, Melbourneians could have known by the end of the week if the lockdown would be lifted early.
The city was expected to come out of its sixth lockdown on October 26, but the proportion of people getting the COVID-19 vaccine means the coverage target will be reached sooner.
“Give me a few more days and I’ll give you as much clarity as I can about what next week looks like, the week after that, and the week after that,” Prime Minister Daniel Andrews told reporters in parliament on Wednesday.
“Now we have a little bit of extra work to do to get past 70 percent, and if we can do that early before the roadmap, what a great challenge for us.”
Restrictions will be eased further when 80 percent of the eligible population receives both vaccine doses originally prescribed for November 5.
However, the Government is not promising to ease more restrictions than is outlined in the roadmap to freedom, with Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton warning that even with the vaccine, people will still get sick.
“As it unfolds, everyone will understand because once we’re a fully vaccinated population we won’t hold back on how we live and act our lives,” he told reporters.
“This means that this virus will spread widely.”
A local lockdown in the Shire of Mitchell will end at midnight on Wednesday.
While there are still new cases in the area, public health officials are confident the lockdown has slowed potential growth.
The state has launched neighborhood pop-up clinics in suburban cafes, stores, and gyms to boost coronavirus vaccine faster.
Extra vaccine pressure comes as Victoria records the deadliest day of its third wave, raising a COVID-19 scare at the Royal Children’s Hospital neonatal unit.
Victoria recorded 1571 locally transmitted infections and 13 deaths, bringing the cost of the current outbreak to 114.
The latest deaths are nine men and four women in their 50s and 90s.
“These are tragic human stories. There are families and communities grieving as a result of the COVID losses,” Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters on Wednesday.
There are currently 19,861 active infections statewide.
Among these active infections is a father who visited the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital on Thursday and Friday last week.
She returned a positive test on Monday and notified the hospital that evening, prompting RCH to perform rapid antigen testing for all visitors starting this week.
At that time, two of the 29 babies in the unit were in close first-tier contact, the rest were in second-tier, with the babies and their families now in isolation. No transmission to infants has yet been found.
Elective surgeries will be paused from Thursday as the state prepares for the influx of coronavirus patients in the coming weeks. Currently, there are 705 people in the hospital, 92 of whom are on ventilators, 146 of whom are in intensive care.