Victoria has recorded 510 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases and one death, as more than 100,000 of the state’s health workers issue a joint plea for the health system to be prioritised over opening up.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the state has reached its first vaccination target, with 70.25 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 now vaccinated with at least one dose.
Friday’s new infections bring the total number of active cases in the state to 4697, while the death brings the toll from the current outbreak to nine.
Authorities have linked 124 of the new cases to existing outbreaks and the source of 386 infections is under investigation.
43,993 jabs were delivered at state-run hubs on Thursday and 55,476 tests processed.
Around 120,000 doctors, nurses, paramedics, and allied health workers have issued a joint call through their unions, urging the state government to prioritise the health system and its workforce over easing restrictions.
Ahead of a roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions being released on Sunday, the group called for “accurate modelling” on expected ambulance demand, hospitalisations, intensive care patients and deaths.
“Modelling must also detail the impact on access to health services for non-COVID-related patients such as heart attacks, stroke and surgery,” the unions said in a joint statement.
“Premier Andrews must continue to not succumb to the pressures of those advocating to ease restrictions – whatever the cost.”
The health workers say they are already burnt out and “fearful” of rising cases as the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital continues to increase, with 182 currently, up from 37 just three weeks ago.
They are concerned that as restrictions ease, the state’s hospitals will be full of COVID-19 patients, limiting access to beds for all other patients.
There are a record 51 Victorians in intensive care, with 29 on ventilators to breathe.
Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association assistant secretary Andrew Hewat warned healthcare workers “are at breaking point”.
“‘We must stop counting bed capacity and start looking at healthcare worker capacity, both mental and physical. You have no health system without health professionals to run it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the premier has announced a suite of “modest” changes to restrictions for Melbourne from Saturday to mark Victoria reaching 70 per cent first dose vaccinations.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated adults can meet up with one other person from another household for a walk or picnic, while fully vaccinated adults can see five people from two households, plus dependents.
Police will not be going from park to park to check the vaccine status of those gathering, but Mr Andrews hopes Victorians will “do the right thing”.
Other rule changes include time allowed outdoors doubling to four hours and the travel limit expanding from five kilometres to 10.
The government has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for construction workers, and banned them from travelling between Melbourne and the regions for work.Internet Explorer Channel Network