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Victoria records 473 COVID-19 cases, school outbreak has community on edge

Victoria’s COVID-19 cases have surged again with 473 new local infections recorded today.

Of the cases, 202 are linked to known cases and outbreaks.

More than 49,000 test results were received yesterday and 30,000 vaccine doses were administered.

Around 100 priority postcodes are this morning the target of a three-week vaccine blitz across Melbourne as an outbreak at a school jumps to 30 infections.

Positive cases in the city’s north and west are growing, prompting the Victorian government to announce a pop-up site program targeting those areas including vaccine clinics at eight secondary schools.

An outbreak at Fitzroy Community School in North Fitzroy is now linked to at least 30 infections and has been listed as a Tier One exposure site across three days.

Of the new local cases, 202 are linked to known cases and outbreaks.

The outbreak within the school community is “concerning” but there are ways children can be protected while they remain unvaccinated, epidemiologist Professor Nancy Baxter said.

“As COVID-19 spreads amongst children, there are unfortunately going to be a small number of children that get quite sick, so protecting kids is really important,” Professor Baxter told Today.

“As we’re waiting for them to be surrounded by vaccinated people and protected that way, we have to focus on ventilation more.”

That includes increasing ventilation in areas where children are grouped together – such as classrooms – using CO2 monitors.

“And if there is not, we need to do something to change that – open windows and doors or if we need to, get Hepa filters. Those are air filters that purify the air so it takes COVID-19 particles out.

“Those are steps we can do to protect kids.”

The warning comes amid fears Victoria could see cases surge above what’s happening in New South Wales, where infections have been above 1000 for the past week.

Yesterday Victoria recorded 392 new cases, while the day before 450 infections were detected.

“We’re on more of the upward trajectory of this outbreak,” Professor Baxter said.

“This lockdown is keeping Delta from being completely out of control to being something we are hoping to being able to catch up to with vaccination.

“If we didn’t have the lockdown, if people weren’t doing all of this hard work, things would be much worse shape.

The lockdown measures that we have in Victoria has gained us time.

“When we look where Sydney was at this point in time, in terms of the number of cases, they were 15 per cent lower in terms of vaccination in Victoria is right now.

“So we have got 15 per cent of people vaccinated in that time period that we were locked down for the past month or six weeks.”

Lockdowns were working to prevent the spread, she said.

“We really did something very good with the lockdown, both Sydney and Melbourne did, keeping this under control until we can get people vaccinated because that is what we’re in, we’re in a race between the virus and vaccination.”

Just over 65 per cent of Victoria’s eligible population has now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

An extra 400,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna are on the way to Victoria from the Commonwealth, with plans to set up a mass vaccination hub at the MCG.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire for not communicating with Premier Daniel Andrews about the additional jabs bound for the state.

Mr Andrews appeared blindsided by the news during a media conference yesterday.

“This is fantastic news,” he said.

“Maybe while I’ve been talking to you there is a missed call on my phone.”