Melbourne COVID-19 lockdown may lift early

Victorians will soon be able to get their COVID-19 vaccine at cafes, shops and gyms.
Victorians will soon be able to get their COVID-19 vaccine at cafes, shops and gyms.

Melburnians could know by the end of the week if lockdown will lift early, with Victoria on track to reach its 70 per cent double vaccination target ahead of schedule.

The city was expected to exit its sixth hard lockdown on October 26, but the rate of people taking up COVID-19 vaccinations means the coverage target will be achieved earlier.

"Just give me a few more days, and I'll give you as much clarity as I can about what next week looks like and the week after that and the week after that," Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters at parliament on Wednesday.

"We've just got this little bit extra to do now to push past 70 per cent and if we can do that early before the roadmap, what a fantastic problem for us to have."

Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of the eligible population has received both vaccine doses, originally projected for November 5.

However, the government is not making promises of easing restrictions further than what was laid out in its roadmap to freedom, with Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warning even with vaccination, people will still get sick.

"Everyone will get it as we open up because we are not going to hold back in terms of how we live our lives and move around when we are a fully vaccinated population," he told reporters.

"That means there will be widespread transmission of this virus."

A local lockdown in the Mitchell Shire will end at midnight on Wednesday.

While there are still new cases in the area, public health officials are confident the lockdown has slowed the potential growth.

In an effort to drive up coronavirus vaccination faster, the state has launched neighbourhood pop-up clinics in suburban cafes, shops and gyms.

The extra vaccination push comes as Victoria records its deadliest day of its third wave, and the Royal Children's Hospital reveals a COVID-19 scare in its neonatal unit.

Victoria has recorded 1571 new locally acquired infections and 13 deaths, taking the toll of the current outbreak to 114.

The latest deaths are nine men and four women, aged from their 50s to 90s.

"These are tragic human stories. There are families and there are communities grieving as a result of COVID losses," Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters on Wednesday.

There are now 19,861 active infections across the state.

Among those active infections is a father who visited the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Children's Hospital on Thursday and Friday last week.

He returned a positive test on Monday and informed the hospital that evening, prompting the RCH to enforce rapid antigen testing for all visitors from this week.

Of the 29 babies in the unit at the time, two are tier one close contacts and the remainder are tier two, with the infants and their families all now isolating. No transmission to the babies has yet been found.

Elective surgeries will be paused from Thursday as the state prepares for an influx of coronavirus patients in coming weeks. Currently there are 705 people in hospital, of which 146 are in ICU including 92 on a ventilator.

Australian Associated Press