Victoria records 445 new COVID cases as grieving family urges community to get vaccinated

There continues to be a high demand at COVID-19 testing centres in Melbourne. (ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

The grieving family of a Victorian man in his 40s who died of COVID-19 on Monday is urging others to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

Victoria recorded 445 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and two more deaths — separate to the man in his 40s —overnight. 

Of the new cases, 129 are linked to known outbreaks.

There were 42,694 test results received on Monday, and 36,615 doses of vaccine were administered at state-run sites.

The latest figures show 67.6 per cent of the Victorian population aged over 16 has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 41.4 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The deaths of two people with COVID-19 reported by the Victorian Health Department — a man is his 20s from Hume and a woman in her 80s from Brimbank — take the state's toll to 826 since the pandemic began.

Health department deputy secretary Kate Matson said the man in his 20s died at home and health officials had not been aware of his infection.

"Unfortunately, we are aware he died of COVID, due to post-mortem analysis. He wasn't a case we were aware of," she said.

Melbourne family grieve loss of father to COVID-19

Meanwhile the family of a man whose death is yet to be formally announced by the Victorian Department of Health is urging others to get vaccinated.

The family of Martin 'Marty' Blight, 46, is urging others to get vaccinated after he died in hospital from COVID-19. (Supplied: Australian Services Union)

Martin 'Marty' Blight, aged 46, was a father and a long-term employee of the Serco call centre at Mill Park in Melbourne's north, who became unwell with COVID-19 soon after his workplace was identified as a tier 1 site. He had been identified as a close contact.

The Australian Services Union released a statement describing Mr Blight as a keen fisherman and a friend to many.

"The union has been speaking with Marty's family directly and both the ASU and Marty's family would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible so that no one else has to go through the trauma of losing someone to COVID-19," the statement said.

There are 158 people in hospital with COVID-19, of whom 45 are in intensive care and 23 are on a ventilator.

Just one person in hospital was fully vaccinated, Deputy Premier James Merlino said.

State outlines 10 hotspot postcodes of major concern

Day 13 quarantine testing of people linked to the Panorama construction site in Box Hill unearthed more cases, with 136 infections now linked to the site.

Ms Matson said the vast majority of new cases continued to come from suburbs in Melbourne's north and west, identifying 10 postcodes of concern.

She named suburbs in those zones where people needed to be "extra vigilant", which are:

  • Roxburgh Park, Craigieburn (3064)
  • Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana (3047)
  • Coolaroo, Meadow Heights (3048)
  • Campbellfield (3061)
  • Greenvale (3059)
  • Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park (3046)
  • Fawkner (3060)
  • Hoppers Crossing, Truganina, Tarneit (3029)
  • Werribee, Werribee South, Point Cook (3030)
  • Altona East, Altona Gate and Altona North (3025)

The Premier Daniel Andrews said Melburnians could expect a roadmap out of lockdown to be announced on Sunday. 

The roadmap will outline what the next few months will look like and when restrictions can ease. 

"There will be map that talks about what we are going to do in the rest of September, what we're going to do in October and November," Mr Andrews said.

"It will be subject to all sorts of things including how many people are in hospital."

Extra cases, exposure sites in regional areas

New exposure sites are being listed in regional Victoria in the wake of several new positive COVID-19 cases being announced yesterday.

Ms Matson outlined three cases, which were a train driver who lives in the Surf Coast Shire linked to the V/Line cluster, a construction worker in Ballarat who works in Melbourne and a person in the Mitchell Shire who works in an area of Melbourne with significant spread of COVID-19.

The ABC has also seen a letter from the principal of Clarendon College in Ballarat, advising parents a child at the school's Early Learning Centre has tested positive.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ballarat restaurant Lake View Hotel was listed as a tier 1 and tier 2 exposure site for September 9 and September 10.

New exposure sites have also been added in the Geelong region, which has 13 active COVID-19 cases.

The Geelong exposure venues include a supermarket and other retail outlets at Waurn Ponds on September 9, 10 and 12, and an Ocean Grove supermarket on September 9 and 10.

The regional city of Shepparton managed to bring its Delta outbreak under control. (AAP: Daniel Pockett)

The regional city of Shepparton, which experienced an outbreak of more than 100 cases, remains under the same lockdown rules as greater Melbourne.

It has recorded three consecutive days with no new cases.

Spending boost for mental health services

Mr Merlino announced a $22 million funding boost for mental health support during the pandemic.

The funding includes $13.3 million for 20 pop-up community mental health services with around 90 dedicated clinicians.

Pop-up mental health clinics announced as 445 cases of COVID-19 recorded

"We know throughout this pandemic over the last 19 months, some Victorians have been really struggling, whether that's through isolation, whether it's financial stress, whether it's illness and indeed loss of life or loss of a loved one," Mr Merlino said.

Psychiatrist Patrick McGorry welcomed the additional funding which followed a spending boost already announced in the wake of the mental health royal commission.

"It is a stepping stone. It's a big task ahead. It won't be a total solution, but it will set the scene for progress next year as the royal commission starts to take root in the community," he said.

The new cases come after a Melbourne epidemiologist raised concerns that lockdown fatigue and rule breaking appear to be causing Victoria's Delta outbreak to spread faster than it did in New South Wales.

Tony Blakely has been mapping daily figures in both states and has found Victoria's case numbers are rising at an average of 12 per cent each day, while New South Wales was only recording a 5 per cent increase at the same stage of its outbreak.

"That's pretty high," Professor Blakely told ABC Radio Melbourne.

"We're so over it in Victoria that we're not complying as well with the lockdowns as we used to.

"There is no doubt that hard lockdowns do slow the spread, as ugly as they are to do."

Fitzroy school under investigation over lockdown compliance

The statutory body that registers and regulates schools is investigating whether Fitzroy Community School has failed to meet minimum standards for school registration.

The school has come under scrutiny for inviting parents to send their children to the campus during lockdown.

There has now been 33 COVID-19 cases linked to the school, including more than 20 children.

The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority [VRQA] has written to the school's founder, Faye Berryman, asking her to provide information about the school's safety and welfare plans.

VRQA chief executive Jonathan Kaplan said in the letter his "immediate concern is for the ongoing safety of students at the school and the actions taken by the school to discharge its duty of care".

The school has been given until the end of the week to respond.

Mr Merlino, who is also the state's education minister, strongly criticised the school's principal, Tim Berryman.

"Imagine the case numbers, imagine the hospitalisations, if every single principal was as irresponsible as this one," he said.

Victorian debate over reopening schools heats up

The Victorian opposition has released a proposed path to reopen all schools for term 4, but the Victorian government says it relies on "impossible" assumptions about how the virus spreads through communities. 

The Coalition's seven-point COVID Safe Schools plan is calling for schools to be treated as "bubbles", offering priority vaccination to all willing teachers, only closing schools on a case-by-case basis, and employing rapid antigen testing as a screening tool.

Shadow Education Minister David Hodgett said school closures needed to be more targeted.

"We're saying we should treat schools as bubbles, with community sport not being allowed and children being limited in the activities they can do," he said.

"We are saying when kids get into the school yard and it is safe to do those sorts of things then they should be able to participate in a full range of activities."

The opposition said students had lost more than 150 days of face-to-face learning as a result of the lockdowns, which has had a devastating impact on children and their communities.

Mr Hodgett said closing schools on a case-by-case basis would ensure more students could stay in school, likening school campuses to construction sites.

"If there is an outbreak on a construction site, we don't close every construction site across the state, we close that site and manage that site, we're saying schools should be the same." he said.

In a statement, a government spokesperson said the opposition plan was not backed by health advice and was not practical for students.

"Not only is this plan not backed up by public health advice, its very premise is impossible - schools cannot be 'bubbles', because children do not live there, and are otherwise out in the community," the spokesperson said.

"We have already made it clear that improved ventilation, increased hygiene, staggered start times and rapid antigen tests - when they are approved by the TGA - will form part of our plan to return schools safely."

CFMEU boss rejects mandatory vaccination idea

Victoria's construction industry is at odds over whether COVID-19 vaccines should become mandatory for its workers.

Over the next week, 20,000 Pfizer appointments will be prioritised for construction workers and there will be unlimited access to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Construction, Mining, Forestry and Energy Union (CFMEU) Victorian secretary John Setka said workers should be encouraged to get the jab without mandates, and he believed in "freedom of choice".

"I don't support anything being compulsory," he said.

There is a blitz on COVID-19 compliance at construction sites in Victoria. (ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

He said he disagreed with any suggestion worksites were not complying with public health orders and was concerned about the compliance blitz underway in Victoria.

"I'm not denying there is some people who are probably flouting the rules, like you get everywhere else," he said.

"We have not had massive outbreaks in the construction industry because most people are following the rules."

Rebecca Casson from the Masters Builders Association said mandatory vaccines could be the best way to move the industry forward.

"Building and construction is absolutely vital to the Victorian economy and we need to get it moving as quickly as possible," she said.

Crown floats mandatory vaccination plan

Crown Resorts has revealed it is pushing for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for its employees and could ban unvaccinated customers from its venues.

It employs 20,000 people at its resorts and casinos in Australia.

Crown Melbourne and Crown Resorts chief executive Steve McCann said 60 per cent of the company's employees had already received at least one dose of vaccine.

"This is about protecting every Australian. We want to create a safe environment for people to come to work, and also for our guests to come to enjoy themselves," he said in a statement.

Crown said it was consulting its employees about the potential move.

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