'We need a buffer': Victoria hits 15 days in a row without a virus case

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read

Victoria has recorded no new coronavirus cases or deaths for a 15th consecutive day.

Saturday's statistics were revealed as three active cases remained across the state – two in the local government region of Greater Dandenong and one in Casey.

Some 14,614 Victorians were tested for COVID-19 on Friday.

Despite the lack of new cases, Premier Daniel Andrews is maintaining caution and won't fast-track the next easing of restrictions, still scheduled for November 22.

This date will see the last step out of restrictions with greater freedom given to retail, hospitality and personal services, as well as an increase in the number of people allowed at weddings and other large gatherings.

Victorians in the street.
Despite the lack of new cases, Premier Daniel Andrews is maintaining caution

"What we need to do is make sure that we have that biggest buffer possible before we take really big steps towards opening up, because it does serve that purpose," Mr Andrews said.

"If we can keep numbers very low for an extended period of time, we'll be able to keep them low for all of 2021."

Families separated either side of the Victoria-South Australia border have been offered relief as SA announced it would lift all its border restrictions on December 1. There will be no requirement for travellers to quarantine in hotels or at home.

NSW announced last week it would reopen its border with Victoria on November 23.

Meanwhile Mr Andrews announced $155 million from the upcoming state budget for an Australian Institute for Infectious Disease.

The $550 million institute will be tasked with leading the fight against future pandemics, with construction expected to begin next year and completed by 2025.

Melbourne streets with people wearing face masks.
November 22 will see the last step out of Victoria's restrictions with greater freedoms granted. Source: AAP

The University of Melbourne and its partners will invest $150 million in the facility, while Mr Andrews said he would present a case to the federal government for the remaining funds.

The state's health department will have a new leader in Euan Wallace from Tuesday, as he takes over the role from Kym Peake.

Ms Peake stepped down from the role this week "to pursue other opportunities".

She was the third key witness at Victoria's hotel quarantine inquiry to quit, following then-health minister Jenny Mikakos and top state government bureaucrat Chris Eccles.

Prof Wallace has most recently served as DHHS' deputy secretary, he is an obstetrician and gynaecologist with more than a decade of experience in healthcare governance.

Victoria's death toll from the virus stands at 819, with the national figure is 907.

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