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Victoria reports 514 new COVID-19 cases as regional city of Ballarat enters lockdown

Victoria has reported 514 new locally-acquired cases of coronavirus, with 148 linked to known cases or outbreaks.

There were no deaths reported on Thursday.

The figures come as residents of one regional Victorian town have joined Melburnians in lockdown, as locals of another are released after snuffing out a COVID-19 outbreak.

With the exception of a curfew, Ballarat residents are waking up under the same restrictions as Melburnians on Thursday after four new cases were detected in the region.

Testing is being ramped up in Ballarat to combat the cluster, while thousands of additional vaccine doses will also be sent to the Victorian gold rush town.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the planned seven-day lockdown would give the city “the best chance of opening up again in the shortest time possible”.

In stark contrast, the city of Shepparton to Melbourne’s north has come out of lockdown after a local outbreak of the Delta variant was brought under control.

Despite Victoria reporting its third straight day of cases in the 400s on Wednesday, Professor Sutton said modelling indicated the state’s outbreak had not peaked and daily infections could rise to 1,000.

“We have to press on with vaccinations at the fastest possible rate,” Professor Sutton said.

With 68.3 per cent of eligible Victorians vaccinated, Mr Andrews said the state was on track to hit 70 per cent on Thursday.

The government has pledged to give Melburnians more “freedoms”, including an extra hour of exercise and an expanded travel limit, once 70 per cent of those eligible have received their first dose.

This was initially forecast to happen on 23 September, but the state’s soaring vaccination rate has brought the date forward.

Mr Andrews foreshadowed some rules might be relaxed as early as Thursday night but also raised the prospect they could be “rolled into” Sunday’s roadmap announcement, which will outline the state’s restrictions through to November.

Meanwhile, public transport to and from Melbourne’s CBD will be suspended for six hours on Saturday to thwart an anti-lockdown protest.