'Dramatic shift': Premier's bleak warning as outbreak changes 'very rapidly'

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  • Dan Andrews says outbreak has 'shifted'

  • Upcoming lockdown rule changes announced

  • Premier urges residents to get vaccinated

Victoria Premier Dan Andrews has warned of a "dramatic shift" in the state's recent Covid outbreak after 120 new cases were recorded.

It is the first time in a year the state has reached triple figures in daily new cases. Only 20 of the new infections were isolating during their infectious period, Mr Andrews said on Wednesday. 

"These last few days have seen a dramatic shift in the nature and the number of cases coming forward," he said.

"To give you a sense of how things have changed and are changing very rapidly, of today's cases that have been fully interviewed – and our contact-tracers work as hard as they possibly can and as fast as they can – of those that have been fully interviewed, only 20 were in isolation during their infectious period."

People are seen exercising in Port Melbourne, Monday, August 30, 2021. Source: AAP
Victoria announced 120 new Covid cases on Wednesday. Source: AAP

Mr Andrews said state health authorities have warned him that the outbreak will get worse. 

"In just the last two days, the number of cases, the nature of those cases, the depth of the seeding of this outbreak has become clear and the chief health officer's advice to me and the Government has changed - fundamentally changed. 

"None of us have the luxury of ignoring that, none of us have the luxury of shopping for the advice that we want. When we get advice we follow it and the data and the evidence and the experts are very clear with us.

"We will not see these case numbers go down. They are going to go up. The question is: by how many and how fast?"

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media. Source: Getty
Victoria Premier Dan Andrews has warned of a "dramatic shift" in the state's recent Covid outbreak. Source: Getty

Lockdown restrictions to be eased

Despite the concerning jump in new Covid cases, the premier announced that from midnight tomorrow playgrounds will be reopened for families struggling during lockdown.

He also announced a slew of other restriction changes that will be introduced when the state hits its 70 per cent first dose vaccination rate — predicted for September 23. They are:

  • Expanding the 5km radius to 10km for shopping and for exercise

  • Extending the time to exercise from two hours to three hours per day

  • Outdoor communal gym equipment and skate parks will reopen

  • Outdoor personal training will also be allowed with up to two people plus the trainer

  • Child-minding for school-aged children will be permitted

  • Real estate, private inspections of unoccupied premises for a new purchase or end of a lease will be permitted

  • Construction sites will be able to increase to 50 per cent of their capacity if 90 per cent of their workforce have received at least one vaccine dose

Mr Andrews warned that some rules will still be applied to the restriction changes but that information would come at a later date.

More information about lockdown rule changes in regional Victoria will be announced next week, authorities said. 

Push for residents to book vaccinations

The premier urged residents who have not yet booked a vaccine appointment to do so.

"If you're yet to be vaccinated, please, please, book in. We know that AstraZeneca is a great vaccine," he said.

"Of the almost million double-dosed Victorians who have had that AstraZeneca vaccine, none of them are in ICU now. None of them. So it provides really substantial protection. 

"You have to keep that in mind when you're maybe wavering on waiting for Pfizer, that might be weeks away for you. We got to plan to ease restrictions but we do need to bend the curve. We need to get lower case numbers."

Victoria recorded its first deaths in the current outbreak on Tuesday. Both women, aged in their 40s and 60s, died at home.

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