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Victoria posts 1,377 new COVID-19 cases as Melbourne becomes world’s most locked down city

Victoria has reported 1,377 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 from 67,789 tests and another four deaths.

The daily figures come as Melbourne claims the unwanted title of the world’s most locked down city.

The state capital on Monday chalked up 246 days living under stay-at-home orders across six lockdowns, surpassing the record set by the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires.

Premier Daniel Andrews says he is proud of the sacrifices Melburnians have made over the pandemic and is calling on them to make a final push before lockdown ends in coming weeks.

“We are going to get past this. We are going to end this lockdown and open up, and all that we will enjoy then will be a result of all that we have given,” he told reporters on Sunday.

Epidemiologist Tony Blakely, a long-time supporter of the elimination strategy, said the lockdowns saved lives but Victoria had been unfortunate to have so many.

“If we let it rip last year, we would have had severe mortality and morbidity. It’s just that we haven’t had the same luck as other places,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

Victoria is forecast to hit 70 per cent vaccination coverage of its 16-plus population on 26 October, triggering the end of lockdown under the state’s roadmap before restrictions ease further at 80 per cent.

Mr Andrews is hopeful the reduction of the second dose Pfizer interval in state-run clinics from six to three weeks from Monday will speed up meeting those targets.

It comes after intensive care nurses made an impassioned plea for Victorians to get vaccinated as the state reported 1,220 new locally-acquired cases and three deaths on Sunday.

There are 476 Victorians in hospital battling the virus, up 48 from Saturday, with 98 people in ICU and 57 requiring a ventilator.

Royal Melbourne Hospital ICU nurse unit manager Michelle Spence said patients were “begging” for the vaccine before being placed on life support, including a man in his 30s with no underlying conditions.

According to Burnett Institute modelling, hospitalisations are expected to hit 1,200 to 2,500 after daily cases peak up to 2,900 in mid- to late-October.

A “second epidemic peak” in mid-December is also forecast after restrictions ease, which could push hospitalisations over 2,500.

Meanwhile, three Victorian students tested positive after 3,000 were processed on Saturday as part of targeted testing of COVID-hit areas for Tuesday’s repeatedly rescheduled General Achievement Test.

Regional Victorian students in prep, Year 1 and Year 12 returned to classrooms on Monday.