Vic won't hit first roadmap target on time

Victoria is set to miss its first COVID-19 roadmap target forecast, as police thwarted an attempt to ignite another large-scale protest in Melbourne.

© James Ross/AAP PHOTOS A man who attended a violent protest in Melbourne on Wednesday has tested positive for COVID-19.

Health Minister Martin Foley has conceded the state is unlikely to hit 80 per cent first dose coverage of the eligible population on Sunday as initially forecast, with the figure currently sitting at 76.3 per cent.

“We would expect that, certainly by mid to late next week, we’ll hit that,” Mr Foley told reporters on Friday.

“These projections bounce around based on all sorts of measures. Let’s all redouble our efforts over this weekend.”

When that milestone is reached, Melburnians are set to be granted additional freedoms including the resumption of golf, tennis and cricket for up to five fully vaccinated adults and the expansion of the city’s travel limit from 10km to 15km.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the initial roadmap target was “ambitious” and he would consider a day-by-day “countdown” for future 70 and 80 per cent double dose goals based on updated data.

“We have to balance how people hook into those specific dates when they are clearly in flux,” he said.

It comes as a significant number of police and riot squad members dispersed up to 80 protesters in Northcote on Friday afternoon, making 31 arrests.

Families and children enjoying the AFL grand final eve public holiday watched as a scuffle took place outside Northcote Plaza and angry protesters were led away by police at nearby All Nations Park.

Others in the park were stopped and asked for identification and their reasons for leaving home, while helicopters flew overhead and nearby streets were blocked off by police cars.


Video: Police out in force ahead of further Melbourne protests (Sky News Australia)

More than 200 people were arrested across Melbourne as part of the fifth day of the recurring protests, and police expect to issue 215 fines for breaching health directions.

Victoria recorded 733 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including a man who was at Wednesday’s protest in Melbourne’s CBD that centred on the Shrine of Remembrance.

He is being treated in hospital and public health investigations are underway.

Some Victoria Police officers have been identified as close contacts of the man and will have to self-isolate.

Professor Sutton said it would take a couple of weeks to learn whether the protest was a super-spreading event.

The protests initially began on Monday in opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for the construction sector and the closure of building site tea rooms but morphed into a wider anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine movement.

“They think that everything will be solved by taking a horse deworming tablet, Ivermectin, that gives you the runs and puts some people in hospital,” Prof Sutton said.

“Let’s not pretend these are rational individuals – they are absolutely whacky.”

Meanwhile, Mr Foley announced the state will receive 32,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which will be distributed to state-run clinics, from the federal government next week.

“Given some of the issues around Pfizer supply, particularly in the second half of October, we will be pivoting more of our pop-up sites to Moderna in the coming weeks,” he said.

Mr Foley said the vaccine will largely go to the Palm Plaza pop-up clinic in Dandenong, where a COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow.

Some 300,000 doses will also be distributed to 700 pharmacies across the state, with a focus on Melbourne’s COVID-hit north and west.

A woman in her 80s from Moreland in the city’s north became Victoria’s latest coronavirus death on Friday, taking the toll from the current outbreak to 21.

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