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COVID-19 cases surge as Victoria races to vaccinate its way out of lockdown

Victoria recorded 176 new COVID-19 cases overnight from over 48,000 tests.

Of the locally acquired cases, 83 have been linked to known cases and outbreaks.

Another 33,720 Victorians received a vaccine dose taking the states total to 2,483,396.

Victoria's active coronavirus case tally now sits at 1,029.

As cases rise, the dosage interval for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been reduced from 12 weeks to six weeks.

It brings the interval in line with the Pfizer vaccine, which is also six weeks.

The changes come as evidence shows a double dose is the highest protection against the Delta COVID-19 variant.

There are 52,000 available AstraZeneca appointments available for booking in the next two weeks, the state's acting chief health officer Professor Ben Cowie said.

Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK

Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK

"It's about getting as many second doses into people as we possibly can," Professor Ben Cowie said.

He advised those with a first dose of AstraZeneca not to delay until 12 weeks and rebook sooner.

Professor Cowie said today's numbers and geographic spread show why the state must slow the virus down as much as possible while working towards vaccination targets.

He said of the 1029 active cases said 192 cases are in those aged under nine, 57 were in people aged 10 to 19, 243 in people aged 20 to 29 and 183 in people aged 30 to 39.

Professor Cowie said the 13 new cases found in Shepparton were the result of day 13 testing.

"The Shepparton community do continue to do the hard yards of isolating," he said.

Professor Cowie said thousands of tests would be conducted in coming days and additional resources had been sent to Shepparton.

Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton confirmed late Wednesday night that with over one thousand cases per day, and a trajectory of exponential growth, the risk that NSW poses to Victoria was bigger than ever.

"That's why we are reducing the number of communities in the border bubble."

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This means residents in those LGAs will no longer be eligible for a Cross-border Extreme Risk Zone permit to enter Victoria or return from NSW.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced almost all current restrictions would remain in place until 70 per cent of Victorians have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Mr Andrews confirmed on Wednesday that until then, the five reasons to leave home would remain in place.

He said restrictions currently implemented were statewide for now but would be reviewed next week for regional Victoria.

Chief Psychiatrist Neil Coventry said the COVID pandemic was a time of uncertainty.

"We're all feeling to some extent confused and very uncertain about the future," he said

"This is a very normal reaction to an un-normal situation we're experiencing."

Dr Coventry said most people would be able to cope, but some people were really struggling.

He emphasised help was available and people should reach out to those who need extra help.

Dr Coventry said the mental health of children, teenagers and families was really being impacted.

He had three messages he wanted to tell these people.

Dr Coventry said children and parents needed to feel positive that children were resilient and would mostly be able to cope with the situation.

He stressed parents could do things to help their children such as maintaining a normal routine and talk to children about how they are coping.

Lastly he stressed help for both children and families was available.

He advised in the first instance parents should reach out their child's school and GP, while Headspace and other services were available.

Dr Coventry said he was concerned the impact on children and teenagers could be overlooked.

The Royal Children's Hospital has seen an increase in young people presenting with mental health conditions such as self harm, depression, anxiety and aggression.

He said there had been a notable rise in anxiety and depression across the state including regional areas.

This story COVID-19 cases surge as Victoria races to vaccinate its way out of lockdown first appeared on Bendigo Advertiser.