Victoria has recorded 450 new cases of Covid-19 – the highest daily number in the latest outbreak as authorities race to trace hundreds of mystery infections.
Of the 450 infections announced on Saturday just 75 have been linked to known cases and outbreaks.
The cases came from more than 42,760 tests as Melbourne remains in a strict lockdown with fears the city won’t be freed until Christmas.
Most of regional Victoria except Greater Shepparton emerged from lockdown on Friday, with retail and hospitality allowed to reopen under strict rules.
However just one day after the lockdown ended, a cafe and a medical centre in the regional town of Daylesford have been forced to close after they were visited by infected residents.
Victoria has reported 450 new cases of Covid-19, which is the highest number of daily cases in the latest outbreak (pictured in Ballarat)
Saturday was the highest day for Covid-19 infections in Victoria amid the latest outbreak with just 75 linked to known cases
Authorities are racing to trace a surge in mystery infections seen in the new cases on Saturday in Victoria (pictured in Melbourne)
Shepparton is expected to be released from its lockdown next week, while people in Melbourne are waiting for the state government to announce its plans to ease restrictions.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the government is waiting for detailed modelling from the Burnett Institute before making an announcement.
While the premier has signalled a potential easing of restrictions for Victorians on September 23, the chance of that happening is quickly slipping out of reach.
The planned relaxation of restrictions depends entirely on 70 per cent of Victorians receiving the first jab.
Victorian Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said on Friday Victorians were ahead of schedule in reaching the target.
‘We think we’ll smash that by quite a few days,’ he said.
However, modelling across the country has provided mixed results, with one data analyst on Friday telling Daily Mail Australia Mr Weimar’s predictions may be ‘optimistic’.
Victorians have already spent an agonising 223 days in lockdown as the Delta strain wreaks havoc across the state
Police are seen checking details of drivers in regional Victorian town of Kilmore
Residents in Ballarat are seen walking around their town after regional Victoria was eased from lockdown. There are fears low vaccination rates could see Melbourne under stay at home restrictions until Christmas
‘Based on current levels of vaccinations, using Thursday as the guide, we will see people aged 16 and over at first dose vax at 70 per cent on November 7,’ he said.
The analyst said Victoria was not likely to reach 70 per cent of second-dose jabs until at least December 4 under current vaccination rates.
Without a rapid rise in the uptake and administration of vaccines, Victoria’s 6.5 million population cannot expect to reach 80 per cent double dose until almost Christmas, he said.
’80 per cent second dose won’t be achieved until December 21. However, if you model in a drop off as vax levels increase, summer and Christmas arrive and the holiday period in between, the 80 per cent fully vaccinated targets won’t be achieved until at least January 2022,’ the analyst said.
‘Of course, a doubling of vaccination rates would see us at 80 per cent double vaccinated by November 2021. These are the windows, based on the current metrics, that we are playing in.’
Victorians have already spent an agonising 223 days in lockdown.
Meanwhile in Daylesford, about 100km northwest of Melbourne, venues have already been forced to close after infected people visited the sites.
While Mr Andrews has signalled a potential easing of restrictions for Victorians on September 23, the chance of that happening is quickly slipping out of reach
Cliffy’s Emporium on Raglan Street said a staff member, who worked on Tuesday, had tested positive for the virus on Friday.
‘We are working closely with DHS. However, as a precaution will be closed from tomorrow to allow our team to get tested,’ the cafe said on Facebook.
Springs Medical Clinic on Hospital Street closed for deep cleaning on Friday after a Covid-positive case visited on Wednesday, between 3:15pm and 4:30pm, with contact tracing underway.
Meanwhile two keen AFL fans have been sent back to Victoria from Western Australia, where they tried to gain entry to watch the season finals.
The 46-year-old woman and 67-year-old man were the subject of a police warning on Friday.
‘Travel to attend the AFL Finals series as a spectator is not considered a category for approval to enter WA from restricted locations,’ police said.
What freedom is expected to look like for NSW residents by mid-October when it is expected to reach its 70 per cent target
Mr Andrews has said Victoria would soon become a ‘vaccinated economy’, with those who chose not to be jabbed ‘locked out’.
‘When we get to those vaccination double-dose thresholds … the notion of a lockout of the whole community is far less relevant,’ he said last week.
‘What will become a bigger part of our response is a lockout of many venues for those who are not vaccinated.
‘I am not going to lock the whole state down to protect people who would not protect themselves. If you are not vaccinated, and you could be, the chances of you booking a ticket at a sporting event, going to a pub … will be very limited.’
Under the national plan, lockdowns will end almost entirely and international travel will resume when 80 per cent of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated.
But as Victoria heads into the September 23 target date, no-one is expecting freedom anytime soon.
A Melbourne Year 12 student is seen receiving her vaccination