THE COVID infection rate of increase is slowing, Grampians Public Health Unit's medical director says while warning the region against dropping our guards or our sleeves.
Associate Professor Rosemary Aldrich said despite the soaring case numbers in Victoria - with another 1838 new infections and five deaths reported on Friday - this rate would have been far rising far more rapidly had it not been for community efforts on public health measures, including lockdowns.
Moorabool Shire, on the outskirts of Ballarat, was offered a late reprieve with confirmation on Friday evening its seven-day lockdown would lift on schedule at midnight.
This comes as Moorabool Shire recorded seven new COVID infections, all in Bacchus Marsh.
There were 10 new COVID cases reported in City of Ballarat on Friday following 28 in the two days prior.
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Associate Professor Aldrich confirmed all 10 new cases were linked to two "evolving clusters", one cluster more stable than the other, and Ballarat's public health team was working closely with all impacted to keep their families and their communities safe.
We do know all of our work is impacting on these cases even while they do seem high and will get higher...especially as out restrictions ease in coming weeksRosemary Aldrich, Grampians Public Health Unit
"We do know all of our work is impacting on these cases even while they do seem high and will get higher, especially as we come to live with COVID and especially as out restrictions ease in coming weeks," Associate Professor Aldrich said.
"Now is the best time to get vaccinated. Now is the best time to protect your family for what might come ahead."
About 38,000 jabs have been made in state-run hubs across Ballarat, Ararat and Horsham in the past three weeks. This follows the region celebrating 100,000 jabs in a six-month effort theat went into early September.
State-run hubs, such as the Mercure, have typically been matched jab-for-jab in the region with primary health care providers such as pharmacies, general practitioners and Commonwealth vaccination clinics, such as UFS.
Associate Professor Aldrich said COVID was very much something we had to learn to live with - and what the community did not want was a rise in people who delayed their vaccination suddenly catching COVID.
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Zero cases was an unlikely outcome, but helping to contain COVID and protecting those unable or ineligible to get vaccinated, such as children, she said would prove vital.
"I think what we will find that [we need to live with COVID] even if we have 90 per cent of people vaccinated in Ballarat given the nature of Delta still 10 per cent pop not vaccinated," Associate Professor Aldrich said.
"...As restrictions ease there will very likely be an increase in cases which is why health services across Victoria have been working 18 months get ready such an eventuality.
"That's why we're asking the community first of all to get vaccinated and also to be very mindful of how they respond if they are unwell. We need them to get tested and then stay home."
Regional Victoria's 113 new COVID cases on Friday made up six percent of new infections, which Victoria's chief health officer said was steady.
Mildura was put into lockdown overnight for seven days due to a rising case load.
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