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Victoria records 65 new cases for Sunday

Victoria recorded 65 new cases in the 24 hours to Sunday as a leading doctor has stated anti-lockdown protesters will make the current outbreaks worse.

The department of health said 55 of the 65 cases are linked to current outbreaks while 10 are under investigation.

The 16 cases announced on Saturday as part of the greater Shepparton outbreak are also included in today’s number.

The state administered 26,149 vaccine doses on Saturday while 44,147 test results were returned.

Emergency physician Dr Stephen Parnis, a former AMA vice-president, said COVID-19 outbreaks in both Victoria and New South Wales were putting even more pressure on health services.

“It’s very concerning, the trajectory is heading in the wrong direction,” Dr Parnis told ABC News 24 on Sunday.

“We know from past experience that when the numbers increase, that translates through to more sick people, more hospital presentations. Already in Melbourne, we’ve seen an impact with hundreds of exposure sites, lots of people – over 10,000 to 15,000 in isolation, and that includes a significant amount of health workers. It’s putting pressure on health services.

“We saw these protests yesterday [Saturday], which are demoralising because these people are doing the exact opposite of what they purport to do, which is improve people’s freedoms. They actually made it worse for everyone.”

Victoria Police estimated 4000 people attended a protest rally in the CBD on Saturday with six police injured in clashes with protesters while 218 protesters were arrested and 236 people fined.

Dr Parnis said he hoped Victoria’s lockdown would soon stop the growth in numbers but he urged eligible people to get vaccinated.

“The problem that we have in common is that we are dealing with a virus that is significantly more infectious than last year. That’s the downside,” Dr Parnis said.

“The upside is that we are getting a more and more significant proportion of the population vaccinated and protected every single day. As far as Sydney goes, if we did not have anyone vaccinated, the number of people getting infected, being in hospital, dying, would be a fair bit higher than it is at the moment.

“That’s really an incentive for accelerating rates of vaccination to increase. And not just in Sydney and Melbourne, but across the entire nation. We haven’t got a day to lose.”

Dr Parnis said it would take time for data to become available on how children handled the vaccines and that could slow returning to a more normal life.

“It’s not going to be what it was two years ago,” he said.

“We cannot achieve, with vaccination alone, the protection of the entire community that we would like, and that we have seen with infectious diseases such as measles over the years.

“So the way that I would envisage restrictions being eased would be quite slow, gradual, obviously linked to rates of vaccination, but also linked to the way that cases are presenting to hospital.

“My colleagues know that next year the vast majority of patients we will be seeing in hospitals, very sick with COVID, are the unvaccinated. Now is the time to prevent that.

“Obviously, the next step is to get 12-year-olds to 15-year-olds into the vaccination process. But we’ve got to wait for defensible, safe and thorough data from overseas to make sure that we do have a regime that is safe for children because their immune responses are different to adults, and we’ve got to make sure that there is a benefit that far outweighs any potential risk.”