Victoria records another two deaths and 779 new COVID-19 cases

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Victoria recorded another two deaths and 779 local coronavirus cases, as the state fell short of Sunday’s projected first-dose vaccine milestone that health authorities say is only “a matter of days away”.

There were 34,280 vaccination doses completed in state-run services on Saturday, with more than 46,300 COVID-19 test results returned. Victoria now has 8011 active cases of the virus.

Osama Jabry receiving his COVID-19 vaccination from nurse Sonya El-Abbas, accompanied by his wife Manal Kareen, and children Rokaya and Hussien at Broadmeadows Town Hall vaccination hub.Credit:Paul Jeffers

The new case numbers come as Victoria edges closer to its first vaccine target of 80 per cent of the eligible population having had at least one jab.

The state government had predicted that the milestone would be reached by Sunday, with changes planned to be made to outdoor sports such as golf and an extension of the travel limit for metropolitan Melbourne to 15km from home.

Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters on Saturday the state would reach the single-dose target “early this coming week, it’s only a matter of days away”.

“The sooner people get down to the vaccination clinics, to the pharmacist or get to the GP, the sooner that (target) will happen,” he said.

Mr Foley noted the modelling had slipped when it came to projections for vaccinations on Friday’s public holiday and across Saturday, but the turnout for Victoria’s vaccination program “continues to grow”.

“We continue to be confident that we will meet the 70 and 80 per cent double dose figures in the indicative dates that we’ve indicated.”

The race to reach vaccine targets comes as the Sunday Age reveals digital COVID-19 vaccine exemption certificates will be available for those with a legitimate medical reason from next month.

Legitimate exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines can only be assessed and lodged to the Australian Immunisation Register by GPs, paediatricians and infectious disease physicians on behalf of a patient. Patients can’t access the register themselves.

The latest tier-1 exposure sites include the head office of a grain supply business in Ballarat, a pizza and pasta restaurant in Melbourne’s north-east, and a chemist in the northern suburbs.

A positive case visited Da Vinci Pizza & Pasta Gallery in Watsonia on the evening of September 19, with the business now considered a tier-1 by the Department of Health.

Chemist Warehouse within the Merrifield City Shopping Centre in Mickleham, 29 kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD, has been listed as a tier-1 exposure site on September 21.

CHS Broadbent’s office in the Ballarat suburb of Wendouree has been listed as an exposure site at various times on September 20 and 21, with staff who visited the site expected to isolate for 14 days and get tested immediately.

Some patrons and staff at Ballarat’s Arch View Cafe may have to quarantine for 14 days, after a positive case attended the business every day between September 18 and September 25.

The cafe is considered a tier-two exposure site across eight days, but the Department of Health will be directly contacting some attendees to advise them that they are primary close contacts of the case.

Other tier-two exposure sites listed late on Saturday night span across Roxburgh Park, White Hills, Epsom, Bendigo, and RMIT University’s City Campus.

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