Australia

Australia hits 80% vaccination target as Victoria records 1268 new cases, seven deaths

Australia has passed another vaccine milestone, with more than 80 per cent of residents over 16 now fully vaccinated against coronavirus, as Victoria recorded 1268 new cases and seven deaths from the virus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanked those who had been involved in the “extraordinary effort” to drive up the vaccination rate, saying it will allow the country to remain safely open.

“That’s four out of every five [Australians vaccinated]. How good is that?” he said in a video posted to Facebook.

“This has been a true national effort: in cities and suburbs and towns, in hospitals and pharmacies, in aged care facilities, disability homes.

“Australians haven’t just kept themselves safe, we’ve kept each other safe over these two years. I know it’s felt like a long journey, and that’s because it has been. But together, we’ve saved well over 30,000 lives.”

Around 36 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered across the country.

Victoria’s Department of Health said over 82 per cent of eligible Victorians are fully vaccinated and there are 651 people in hospital across the state, with 106 in intensive care and 70 on ventilators.

More than 65,000 test results were returned across Thursday, with 15,058 vaccination doses administered in state-run centres.

Victoria now has 16,662 active cases of the virus, a sharp drop from the 18,952 reported on Friday.

While Victorian schools have reopened after another long lockdown, children aged 9 and under make up one in five current COVID-19 cases, delaying their reunions with friends and further disrupting their education.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there had been a number of viral fragments detected in waterwater samples from across regional Victoria.

Unexpected positive readings were taken in the western Victorian town of Stawell (October 28 to November 3), Mansfield in the state’s Alpine region (October 28 to November 1), and the beachside localities of Lorne (October 31 to November 3), Aireys Inlet (October 24 to November 1) and Apollo Bay (October 26 to November 1).

Professor Sutton said the detections could be an undiscovered new case, or the result of people in those areas who have recovered from the COVID-19 but are still shedding the virus.

“Anyone who lives in, works in or has visited the areas above is urged to watch for the mildest of COVID-19 symptoms and get tested as soon as possible if symptoms develop,” he said.

Four-hundred-and-thirty Victorian schools have been exposed to a COVID-19 case so far this term, according to data published by the Department of Education and Training and collated by lobby group the Committee for Public Education.

Forty-four of Melbourne’s 337 Catholic schools reported a positive case this week.

The numbers of coronavirus cases connected to Victorian schools comes as national cabinet considers rapid testing school students, childcare educators, hospital workers and aged care staff in a bid to prevent outbreaks in high-risk settings.

On Friday, national cabinet tasked the federal Health Department and the country’s chief medical officers with designing a national guide on where and how often rapid antigen tests should be used and what to do with positive results.

State and territory leaders were advised by the Doherty Institute that twice-weekly rapid antigen testing of students could significantly reduce the chance of school outbreaks.

Children aged four and under make up about 6 per cent of the population but account for 19 per cent of unvaccinated Australians.

Source: theage.com.au

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