Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced new thresholds need to be met to end his state’s lockdown after ending the chase for zero cases.
Victorians have been offered new hope their lockdown will end after Premier Daniel Andrews moved away from a zero-case requirement for easing restrictions.
As the state’s case numbers remain around 70 per day, Mr Andrews revealed he will announce new thresholds of low case numbers that will allow the state’s lockdown to end.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton and the State Government will finalise a “detailed plan” on Tuesday night and it will be announced on Wednesday.
Mr Andrews did not reveal the magic number on Tuesday but indicated it would need to be as close to zero as possible because there was no middle ground in case loads with the Delta variant.
“If we can’t achieve zero, despite our best efforts, how many cases can we tolerate? It will need to be a low number. It cannot be in the hundreds. Because it won’t be in the hundreds for long. It will raise and get away from us,” Mr Andrews explained.
“Then, based on those thresholds and those low case numbers, we will make further announcements about things that can be eased. Those announcements will be made tomorrow.
“I want to stress, for all Victorians, no decision has been made about what will be on that list and not on that list. It’s not like we made a decision and I’m not sharing it, it genuinely hasn’t been made.
“We’re looking at all manner of different things we might be able to do, but I do want to be very clear with the people of Victoria. This will not be freedom day. It will not be an opening up tight day. It will be modest changes that hopefully can be meaningful in people’s lives. As much economic activity as is possible, but they will be very modest changes because there is no middle ground here.”
Mr Andrews described the new plan as Victoria “choosing to go with the most difficult choice”.
“You either aim for very low numbers or you will, in fact, have very high numbers. That’s the simplest way I can put it,” Mr Andrews said.
“I remind people there are more than 1000 cases per day in Sydney and they are locked down too. It’s not like they are open. They are locked down as well. And their hospitals are under enormous stress. We wish them well.”
Mr Andrews stressed that Victoria’s new plan isn’t meant to replace the Doherty Institute modelling that the national plan is based off.
This plan is just for his state right now, if it can’t get current cases down to zero.
He said Victoria is still ultimately chasing 70 per cent and 80 per cent of its population to be fully vaccinated, and that the thresholds he’ll announce tomorrow are just for his state until those targets are reached.
“What I’m going to talk about tomorrow is the number of cases in the community that we can tolerate, and we can trace and keep a lid on while we vaccinate,” he explained.
Mr Andrews said Victoria, and more broadly, Australia, can only cope with Covid if the majority of people are fully vaccinated.
“That is to say, we will cope with unvaccinated people becoming infected and becoming sick when we have reached the 70 per cent and, most importantly, the 80 per cent vaccination target,” he said.
“The notion of trying to cope with a pandemic when you are open, with very few rules, when so few people are vaccinated, we know what that would mean. We know it’s not hundreds of cases, but thousands of cases.
“As I said on Sunday, and as I think Victorians know, these numbers are too high for us to open up.
“Some people have been critical about our focus on zero. Well, either you aim for zero or very low numbers or you finish up with many zeros.
“We have to aim to keep these numbers incredibly low. If we can achieve zero, that is a terrific outcome. If we can’t then we are all the better for having tried to drive the numbers down as low as possible. This is the key point.”
Mr Andrew announced 76 new cases in the past 24 hours. Forty-five are linked to known outbreaks, 31 are under investigation and 36 were in isolation for their entire infectious period
There are now 841 active cases in Victoria.
There are 52 people in hospital, 16 of them in the ICU and 15 of those on a ventilator.
Mr Andrews said “very few” people in hospital have had their first vaccine dose or are fully vaccinated.
There were 32,162 vaccines administered across the state in the current reporting period.
Mr Andrews revealed that a “remarkable” number of Victorians – 2.6 million, in fact – have taken up the AstraZeneca vaccine, once again stressing that it is a safe and effective vaccine.
Professor Sutton says there are “some bright spots in our current outbreak”, even as the situation remains “very challenging”.
“The earlier outbreaks are maturing and we really do have the public health response around them, Glenrae West School, the Myer Centre outbreak in Broadmeadows and St Kilda, really down to those last cases all in quarantine now,” he said.
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