Shepparton News

Regional Vic put on notice

PREMIER WARNS OF RISKS AS BALLARAT IN LOCKDOWN

- By Darren Linton

Victoria has more than 4000 active COVID-19 cases and Premier Daniel Andrews has warned that the relative freedom enjoyed by most regional areas is fragile.

Ballarat entered a sevenday lockdown yesterday due to two new cases, both close contacts of a permitted worker. Wastewater detections in Ballarat and on the Surf Coast have health authoritie­s concerned about unidentifi­ed cases circulatin­g in the community.

“It’s great news for Shepparton, not so great for the people of Ballarat,” Mr Andrews said.

“If we allow it to get away in one part of regional Victoria, it becomes a threat and a risk to all of regional Victoria. We simply can’t have that happen.”

The decision to isolate Ballarat, given the freedom of movement allowed in regional Victoria, is the first example of the Victorian Government’s new targeted lockdown approach in the regions. COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said while there were cases in regional Victoria, the question health authoritie­s needed to answer and respond to was whether there was containmen­t and control of the spread of the virus.

“We still have 61 active cases in total in regional Victoria, some of those of course we’ve mentioned in Geelong and in Ballarat, but the vast majority continues to be in Shepparton. They are of course on very tight isolation protocols, and it’s our confidence around the controls in place that allows us to now move towards easing off Shepparton, but also we are very keen to understand what else is happening in the Ballarat area,” he said.

Some 68.3 per cent of the eligible Victorian population has received a first vaccine dose and the target of delivering one million doses in five weeks has been met.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton warned Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, had not yet reached peak case numbers.

“The modelling and everything we know in relation to our current vaccinatio­n coverage would suggest that cases will continue to increase,” he said.

While the state’s outbreak ‘‘seems to have stabilised’’ in recent days, ‘‘the risk of getting to 1000 (cases per day) is real’’.

Yesterday, 173 people were in hospital, with 44 in intensive care and 23 on a ventilator. The state recorded two more COVID-19 deaths.

“So we have to press on with vaccinatio­ns at the fastest possible rate for that reason alone,” Mr Sutton said.

 ?? Picture: AAP Image ?? Good news: Jeroen Weimar says isolation and containmen­t has given authoritie­s the confidence to release Greater Shepparton from Stage 4 restrictio­ns.
Picture: AAP Image Good news: Jeroen Weimar says isolation and containmen­t has given authoritie­s the confidence to release Greater Shepparton from Stage 4 restrictio­ns.

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