Victoria has broken two grim Covid records on the same day as it prepares for its outbreak to get even worse.
Melbourne broke the world record for the most days in lockdown since the pandemic with 235, and recorded 766 new Covid cases and four deaths.
Argentinian capital Buenos Aires held the unfortunate record with 234 total days stuck in lockdown until today when it was surpassed.
Melbourne has suffered through six lockdowns, the longest being about five months last year during its second wave that killed more than 900 people.
That outbreak peaked at 723 new cases on July 29 last year, 43 fewer than today’s total with warnings it will pass NSW’s high watermark of 1,599 on September 11.
Melbourne broke the world record for the most days in lockdown since the pandemic with 235, and recorded 766 new Covid cases
Daily cases could climb as high as 4,000 according to some modelling, in contrast to Premier Daniel Andrews’ boast he would crush the outbreak with a one-week lockdown.
Instead, the lockdown is in its 11th week and included desperate measures including a curfew, and closing playgrounds and golf courses.
Melburnians are not due to leave lockdown until October 26, by which time it will have spent 267 days in lockdown, but only outdoor retail and hospitality will open.
Victoria’s 766 new cases were diagnosed form 62,408 tests and 40,957 vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday.
To further boost this vaccination rate, which hit 45.2 per cent on Wednesday, teachers and early childhood workers must get the jab by November 29.
Education Minister James Merlino on Wednesday announced all staff at government and independent schools and all early childhood settings will need to have their first jab by October 18, or have a booking within a week of that date.
Education Minister James Merlino on Wednesday announced all Victorian staff at government and independent schools and all early childhood centres will need to be vaccinated (pictured, Keilor Views Primary School)
The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria says it will also make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for teachers and staff in its 498 primary and secondary schools, sticking to the same timelines.
All government school staff will be entitled to half a day of paid time off to get vaccinated.
‘Children under 12 do not have access to a vaccine, so we’ve got to protect our kids, both from contracting the virus and also transmitting the virus when they go home to their families,’ Mr Merlino told reporters.
‘The best way to do that is to ensure that people who work with our children in early childhood, in care settings, in our schools, that they are all required to be vaccinated.’
All staff will have to have their first jab by October 18 or have a booking within a week of that date (pictured, a woman receives a Pfizer vaccine)
He said priority access would not be given to staff to receive a vaccine as there was ‘plenty of capacity’ at the state-run hubs, pharmacies and GPs, while a recent survey of 33,000 teachers found 75 per cent were already fully vaccinated.
The Australian Education Union and Independent Education Union as well as the Early Learning Association of Australia welcomed the announcement.
AEU Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said the union has taken ‘every opportunity since vaccinations became available to encourage our members to get a Covid-19 vaccination as soon as they were eligible’.
‘The union’s position continues to be that our members and the community should follow the public health advice in relation to Covid-19 safety measures, vaccination requirements and the safe return to on-site learning,’ she said in a statement.
IEU general secretary Deb James said the ‘fastest, safest way out of the pandemic remains for us to get vaccinated’.
They will also need to be fully vaccinated before November 29, unless they have a medical exemption (pictured, Bentleigh Secondary College students)
‘Overwhelmingly, our members support vaccination as the most important tool to get schools back to normal,’ she said.
Mr Merlino also announced the government will spend $190 million to ensure schools are properly ventilated by the start of term four, in what he described as an ‘Australian-first unprecedented, massive investment’.
This includes signing a contract with South Korean tech company Samsung to deliver 51,000 air purification devices to every government and low-fee independent school in the state.
Mr Merlino said the devices, which will begin arriving in the state from next week, will be placed in high-risk settings such as sick bays, canteens, staff rooms and music rooms.
The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria will also apply the mandate to their 498 primary and secondary education centres (pictured, a Melbourne vaccination centre)
Some $60 million will be spent on installing shade sails at 2149 schools to create more outdoor learning space, while a small trial of home antigen testing with students and their families will explore their feasibility.
A Ventilation Technical Advisory Panel will also be established to undertake further risk assessments of other environments including early childhood settings and youth justice facilities.
Year 12 students in Melbourne are going back to class on October 6 and a staggered return of other years will follow, starting with prep to Year 2s on October 18.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy supported the state government’s plan.
‘We just want our kids back in school,’ he said.
Melbourne recorded four new deaths on Thursday (pictured, people exercise in the city)
The City of Melbourne will push to host a state-government run trial of vaccine passports in order for small businesses to be allowed to immediately reopen.
City councillors voted unanimously for the trial to be tested in the city’s venues after an overwhelming positive response from businesses in the area.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the trial would come as a relief to small businesses that were ‘terrified’ of closing down before being permitted to trade properly.
‘This trial will deliver hope and insight to businesses big and small and provide the perfect opportunity to start reopening safely,’ Ms Capp said.
Businesses will be given the choice to take part in the trial and open immediately or remain shut until they can reopen under the state government’s roadmap.
Victoria’s 766 new cases were diagnosed form 62,408 tests and 40,957 vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday (pictured, a vaccination clinic in Broadmeadows in Melbourne)
Meanwhile, Ballarat residents were released from a seven-day lockdown at 11:59pm on Wednesday, as well as around 500 residents in parts of Point Lonsdale.
Mayor of the Central Highlands town Ross Ebbels said the easing of stay-at-home orders was ‘sensible’ given the high vaccination rates in the inland city.
It comes as Victoria records the nation’s lowest vaccination rates for aged-care staff, after government-funded nursing homes were mandated to provide records of jab rates on Friday.
State-wide 98.6 per cent of health-care workers have received one dose of a Covid vaccine. In Tasmania 99.5 per cent of workers are single-dosed.