Open up regional Victoria now, they say

THE number of active cases of #COVID-19 in regional Victoria on Saturday, October 3 is two (2).

These include one historic case in Colac-Otway Shire and another in Mitchell Shire, around Kilmore, 40km north of Melbourne (notified September 26).

There was also a case notified as ‘East Gippsland’ on September 30 but local sources at Bairnsdale said that while the case was attributed to East Gippsland, the person’s residential address is Melbourne and should not have been recorded as a ‘regional’ case.

This has now been adjusted and there are no notified cases in Gippsland and only two in regional Victoria.

On Saturday morning, the Department of Health and Human Services reported no cases of unknown origin in regional areas since September 17 with the daily average now running at 0.1, meaning regional Victoria is, officially at least, effectively clear of the virus.

The situation prompted Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton to comment that regional Victoria was in a very good place.

“We are very close to zero for regional Victoria,” Prof Sutton said today.

He said it wouldn’t be long before there were no notified active cases in regional Victoria.

But asked for comment on the need for masks in regional areas, he acknowledged some people were sick of wearing them but for the present time it would remain a requirement.

Across Victoria there were eight new cases overnight, with the active total on Saturday, October 3 down to 241.

The low numbers have prompted new calls for regional Victoria to immediately move to the ‘Last Step’ of restrictions or lower.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said today that regional Victoria should immediately move to the same level of control as NSW.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said the Government must urgently fast-track its roadmap out of lockdown for regional Victoria.

“Regional Victoria’s 14-day average is at 0.1 but unfairly harsh restrictions are still strangling the life out of small business and country communities,” Mr Walsh said.

“Our dance schools and gyms are closed, school students are spending more time out of the classroom and cafes, restaurants and pubs are struggling to make ends meet under unworkably low capacity limits.

“In comparison, New South Wales has managed to open up, while still recording low numbers of new cases each day.

“Immediately introducing NSW rules for regional Victoria, while still enforcing wearing of masks, will drive up business confidence and safely reopen our country communities.”

The changes, called for as part of the Liberal Nationals’ realistic roadmap to recovery, would mean no stay at home requirements, up to 20 visitors to your home, no intrastate travel restrictions and up to 10 people per restaurant booking. It would also allow for the reopening of schools and gyms and less restrictive limits on weddings, funerals and religious services.

Experts say Andrews’ restrictions are ‘too stringent’ and leading epidemiologists have demanded ‘tailored, precise, evidence-based responses’, instead of Labor’s sledgehammer approach.

The state’s peak business body, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has also backed safely easing restrictions early to get regional Victoria back to business.

Coronavirus update Saturday, October 3

Victoria has recorded eight new cases of coronavirus since yesterday, with the total number of cases now at 20,197. The overall total has increased by six, due to two cases being reclassified.

Six of today’s eight new cases have been linked to known outbreaks or complex cases. Four are linked to the Butcher Club at Chadstone Shopping Centre outbreak and two are linked to healthcare facilities. The other two cases remain under investigation.

Of today’s eight new cases, there are two cases in Monash and single cases in Boroondara, Casey, Melton, Moreland, Whitehorse and Wyndham.

The ‘Casey community outbreak’ which has so far registered 45 positive cases is down to 3 active cases.

There have been three new deaths from COVID-19 reported since yesterday. One woman aged in her 80s and two women aged in their 90s. All three of today’s new deaths are linked to known aged care facility outbreaks. To date, 805 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.

The average number of cases diagnosed in the last 14 days for metropolitan Melbourne is 12.0 and regional Victoria is 0.1. The rolling daily average case number is calculated by averaging out the number of new cases over the past 14 days.

The total number of cases from an unknown source in the last 14 days is 11 for metropolitan Melbourne and zero for regional Victoria. The 14-day period for the source of acquisition data ends 48 hours earlier than the 14-day period used to calculate the new case average due to the time required to fully investigate a case and assign its mode of acquisition.

In Victoria at the current time:

  • 4271 cases may indicate community transmission – a decrease of two since yesterday
  • 241 cases are currently active in Victoria
  • 34 cases of coronavirus are in hospital, including four in intensive care
  • 19,091 people have recovered from the virus
  • A total of 2,733,499 test results have been received which is an increase of 11,281 since yesterday.

Of the 241 current active cases in Victoria:

  • 239 are in metropolitan Melbourne under the Second Step of our roadmap
  • 2 are in regional local government areas under the Third Step of our roadmap
  • Colac-Otway has one active case while main regional centres Greater Geelong, Greater Bendigo and Ballarat have no active cases.

Of the total cases:

  • 18,805 cases are from metropolitan Melbourne, while 1192 are from regional Victoria
  • Total cases include 9633 men and 10,550 women
  • Total number of healthcare workers positive: 3538, active cases: 35
  • There are 94 active cases relating to aged care facilities

Non-aged care outbreaks with the highest number of active cases include:

  • 15 active cases are currently linked to The Butcher Club outbreak (total cases: 15)
  • 7 active cases are currently linked to the Springvale shared accommodation outbreak (total cases: 8)
  • 4 active cases are currently linked to Alfred Hospital (total cases: 12)
  • 3 active cases are currently linked to the Casey community outbreak (total cases: 45)
  • 3 active cases are currently linked to Western Health Sunshine (total cases: 3)