Covid 19 Australia: Victoria sees its worst day of pandemic, NSW eyes early lockdown exit

Victoria has recorded 766 new local cases of Covid-19 – the highest daily number recorded in the state since the pandemic began – as well as four deaths.

Today’s figures overtake the previous record of 700 infections, recorded on August 4, 2020, when Victoria was battling its deadly second wave.

Victorian authorities have urged residents to get vaccinated in a bid to prevent deaths and severe illness. About 74.4 per cent of eligible Victorians have received a single dose for the vaccine and 45.2 per cent are now double-dosed.

According to the state government’s roadmap out of lockdown, Victorians will start to see some easing of restrictions about October 26 when the state is expected to hit a 70 per cent double dose vaccination rate.

Today’s spike in cases comes as the organisers of chaotic anti-lockdown protests that have terrorised Melbourne since Monday say they are planning to take to the streets once again.

The collection of groups includes tradespeople opposing mandatory Covid vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, so-called ‘freedom’ defenders, lockdown opponents and conspiracy theorists.

Yesterday’s crowd was smaller than the thousands who unleashed chaos on the Victorian capital on Tuesday, but some 400 protesters brought the city to a standstill for several hours.

Protesters gathered in the CBD and marched through the streets before making their way to the hallowed Shrine of Remembrance, occupying it until late in the afternoon, chanting, yelling, swearing and pelting police with projectiles.

In a furious statement, RSL Victoria said the Shrine should never be a place of protest “under any circumstances”.

“If any individuals or groups choose to express their political views, positions or ideological theories in the grounds of the shrine at any time, they are completely disrespecting the sanctity of this honoured space – those men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have lost their lives, and all Victorian veterans.”

Melbourne is bracing for a fourth consecutive day of demonstrations today, with chat groups on the social media site Telegram confirming plans for more of the same on Thursday.

Individuals inside the online chat claiming to be nurses and teachers say they’ll join the group today and say they’re encouraging colleagues to do the same.

Victoria Police yesterday made more than 200 arrests after firing nonlethal projectile rounds at the mob gathered at the Shrine.

Many of them were slapped with hefty A$5000 fines for breaching Covid-19 public health orders and a handful were charged with assault.

Some in the group of protesters hurled objects at riot squad officers, including golf balls, batteries and bottles, according to reports.

Two police officers were injured and treated for head injuries, while a third was hospitalised with chest pain.

Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther said there are fewer and fewer actual tradies in the crowd, which has been infiltrated and emboldened by outside forces.

“The group seem much more mixed in their motivation, which we are yet to establish,” Guenther said. “There are other small breakaway groups that see benefit in hijacking these things. We’ve seen that before.”

A task force has now been established to pour over hundreds of hours of footage from Melbourne’s vast network of CCTV cameras, as well as officers’ body cams, to identify individuals and hunt them down.

Police have vowed to charge and fine as many of them as possible.

NSW

New South Wales has recorded 1063 new local cases of Covid-19 and six deaths as the state awaits an end to the lockdown that began in Greater Sydney in late June.

There are currently 1244 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, with 233 people in intensive care, 112 of whom require ventilation.

But as vaccination rates climb across the state, fully vaccinated residents could be enjoying eased restrictions sooner than expected.

NSW is now expected to hit its 70 per cent double dose vaccination target by October 7, with industry groups being briefed for an October 11 official reopening date, according to The Australian.

These revised dates put the state on track to reopen two weeks earlier than originally expected, with October 25 initially earmarked for reopening.

Under NSW’s roadmap to freedom, the lockdown will be lifted for fully vaccinated residents from the Monday after the vaccination target is hit.

Some of the eased restrictions will include:

• Having five fully vaccinated visitors in your home and being able to gather outdoors in groups of 20.
• The reopening of hospitality venues, retail stores, hairdressers, gyms and sporting facilities.
• The reopening of major outdoor recreation facilities, such as stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos.
• Allowing up to 50 guests at weddings and funerals. Places of worship will also be allowed to reopen.
• Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted.

Almost two-thirds of people in NSW support the plan ease restrictions once the 70 per cent target is met,according to a survey for The Sydney Morning Herald by research company Resolve Strategic.

The polling reveals 65 per cent of people support opening up when vaccination rates hit 70 per cent. 17 per cent are opposed and 18 per cent are neutral or don’t know.

Resolve director Jim Reed said the polling showed a majority of NSW residents felt comfortable about coming out of lockdown.

“Voters in NSW certainly seem to be getting behind the plan to open up, perhaps because they have suffered the longest restrictions this time around and are the furthest down the vaccination path,” he said.

Queensland

Queensland has reported one new locally acquired case of Covid-19 – a student at St Thomas More College.

The new community case is a close contact of a student who was infected in the Sunnybank outbreak and has been in home isolation.

Chief health officer Jeanette Young expressed her gratitude to the girl’s family and said it showed how important it was to abide by quarantine rules.

“She actually tested positive on day nine in home quarantine and had been in home quarantine for her entire infectious period, so this just shows yet again how important it is that when people are asked to go into quarantine, they need to remain in quarantine for 14 days,” Young said.

Source: Read Full Article