BALLARAT COVID UPDATE, Friday, September 17
NEW CASES: 3
ACTIVE CASES: 9
Ballarat has recorded three new COVID cases in the 24 hours up until midnight on Thursday.
There are now nine active cases spread across three different households in the city.
Two of the cases are in hospital in a stable condition, Ballarat Health Services confirmed.
All three new cases are household contacts of existing cases and there are no new mystery cases in the city.
There were 2,079 tests conducted in Ballarat yesterday.
COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed the Ballarat results on Friday morning, saying nine of the 510 new cases were in regional Victoria.
"I ask the community in Ballarat to continue to come forward and get tested," he said.
"Please check exposure sites. Some of those active cases have been particularly dynamic over the last couple of weeks during our infectious period.
"Again, my thanks to the entire local team that's down there, particularly the City of Ballarat and Ballarat Health for their fantastic efforts in the last 48 hours. We expect a busy few days ahead as we work through testing anybody who has symptoms and has been to exposure sites and anyone who has concern about their potential exposure."
Mr Weimar asked why Geelong was not in lockdown, even though there are more cases there than Ballarat.
There are 13 active cases in Geelong compared to Ballarat's nine.
See where all the exposure sites are here.
"The issue with Geelong is we have clearly identified sources of acquisition," he said.
"There's a bit of work to do in one case in today's numbers and we'll be interested to see where that transmission came from. (Generally speaking), primary close contacts are defined, they're isolating, we don't have waste water pinging where we don't expect it to ping in the Geelong area so it's a risks we can just about manage at this point in time.
"What worried us significantly in Ballarat two or three days ago was a number of waste water catchments activated at the same time. A new unlinked positive case came forward who was infectious in the community for over 10 days and with a large number of exposure sites around them. The results for Ballarat in the last 24 hours are, I would say, encouraging."
About 95 per cent of the new cases are in Melbourne's north and west.
EARLIER: Victoria has recorded 510 new local COVID-19 cases, as Ballarat waits with bated breath for an update on its COVID outbreak.
Of the 510 new statewide cases, 124 have been linked, meaning 386 are currently classed as mystery cases.
There have also been one more death recorded.
There were 43,993 vaccinations administered and 55,476 tests received on Tuesday.
An update on Ballarat's COVID outbreak will be provided later today.
Reported yesterday: 510 new local cases and 1 new case acquired overseas (currently in HQ).— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 16, 2021
- 43,993 vaccines administered
- 55,476 test results received
- Sadly, 1 person with COVID-19 has died
More later: https://t.co/OCCFTAtS1P#COVID19Vic#COVID19VicData [1/2] pic.twitter.com/wUJpxXCugD
The news comes as Ballarat's exposure sites list expands to about 40 different sites.
Testing sites are expected to be swamped today, with some of the biggest and busiest retail stores in the city among the list.
As of Thursday, there were six active cases in Ballarat, five of which were linked to the original construction worker that caught the virus in Melbourne.
Of utmost concern, however, was a mystery case that had been infectious in the community for more than a week.
Premier Daniel Andrews said Ballarat still faces a "significant challenge" on Thursday, while banning construction workers travelling to and from Melbourne.
Lockdown rules will ease slightly at midnight for Ballarat and Melbourne, allowing for double-vaccinated people to have outdoor meetings in groups of five.
People have been urged not to abuse the new freedoms allowing up to five fully vaccinated adults to gather for a walk or picnic from this weekend.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated adults will be able to meet up with one other person from a different household for a walk or picnic, while that figure grows to five from two households, plus dependents, for fully vaccinated adults.
The premier said police will not be going from park to park to check the vaccination status of those gathering for picnics, but he hoped Victorians would "do the right thing".
"There's a degree of good faith in this," Mr Andrews told reporters.
See the location of all the active cases here.
An exemption to the current ban on removing masks to drink alcohol outside of the home has not been granted, effectively making it illegal to have a tipple during picnics unless done through a straw.
Other rule changes from 11.59pm on Friday include a doubling of the amount of time allowed outdoors to four hours, the expansion of the travel limit from five kilometres to 10, and the reopening of outdoor gym equipment and skate parks.
The government's full roadmap out of lockdown, outlining restrictions through to November, will be released on Sunday.
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