COVID-19

No new cases, restrictions set to be rolled back

Meanwhile, Victoria has gone four consecutive days without recording a case of coronavirus. More than 17,000 results were received on Monday.The last of Victoria’s locally transmitted positive cases still have three days remaining to complete their 14-day incubation period.“All things being equal, I would hope to make some significant announcements on Friday,” he said.Mr Andrews said it could return the state to a COVID-safe summer setting and was hopeful of getting 75 per cent of people back into the office soon.“There may be an opportunity to change more rules as we get more and more people … get the vaccination,” he said.“We are at the beginning of the end of this pandemic — that can’t come fast enough — but it’s not now.”Mr Andrews said he would be getting the jab, along with his family, but there were people more vulnerable than him who needed it first.There are currently 25 active cases in Victoria.VICTORIANS IGNORING COVID FINESVictorians are continuing to thumb their nose at the law and refusing to pay fines for COVID restriction breaches.Victoria Police chief commissioner Shane Patton told a parliamentary inquiry today just 3,140 fines had been paid of the 40,299 issued since the beginning of the pandemic.Another 5,509 were subject to payment arrangements, while 6,003 had been withdrawn.Mr Patton said police would pursue outstanding fines.The chief commissioner also revealed that about 25 police stations remained closed to the public as a result of resourcing pressures because of COVID.He said the stations remained operational, but were closed to all counter service.The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee probing the financial and performance outcomes of the Department of Justice and Community Safety also heard there was a massive backlog of cases before Victorian courts.Department Secretary Rebecca Falkingham said it included more than 100,000 waiting to be heard at magistrates courts and 10,000 still to go before the County Court.But Ms Falkingham was unable to detail how the current backlog compared to prior years.Court sources say extra funding will be needed to ease long delays in the system caused by COVID.In December the state government announced more than $80 million in funding to increase court capacity.MELBOURNE TRAVEL VOUCHERS UP FOR GRABSTravel vouchers have been introduced to bring visitors back to Melbourne as the city suffers through the biggest economic recession since World War II.Victorians will soon be able to apply for $200 travel vouchers to visit Melbourne and stay the night in the CBD.The CBD travel voucher proposal was flagged last year when Melbourne City councillors declared a “voucher war”, green-lighting a plan to introduce a scheme to rival the regional travel boost.Read the full story here.VACCINE ROLLOUT THE ‘BEGINNING OF THE END’A second shipment of at least 80,000 Pfizer doses has arrived in Australia as the vaccine rollout begins in Victoria.Monash Health infection control head Rhonda Stuart, who treated the state’s first COVID-19 patient more than a year ago, was the first Victorian to be vaccinated at 7.30am on Monday before about 500 frontline workers and aged-care residents also received the vaccine. Authorities will work to vaccinate 678,000 people in the next six weeks, with four vaccination hubs across the state as well as specialist teams that will take doses into nursing homes. It is hoped all hotel quarantine workers will be ­vaccinated in just three weeks, and a second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in Australia in coming days.The Herald Sun believes the federal government is ­confident further deliveries are on track, with overseas supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine are also due early next month. Prof Stuart and her team also treated the last person to be discharged from hospital after the state’s second wave. “I’m really proud to be getting this vaccine,” she said.“It’s 14 months since we saw the first patient … it’s amazing we’ve got to this stage where we can be vaccinated to protect ourselves.”About 130 residents at TLC Homestead Estate Residential Aged Care in Geelong also received the first of two Pfizer doses on Monday. Elaine Madden, 87, was the first to roll up her sleeve.“I’d be crazy not to do it … I want to keep on living,” Ms Madden said.While vaccines are not mandatory for aged-care workers, Australia’s expert medical panel has been given the task of researching it, and Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck said it was “an open matter”.After receiving his first dose on Sunday, Scott Morrison said he had no side-effects, just a “bit of a sore arm”. “I’m sure there will be some people who have other side effects, just like with any immunisation program, but Australia’s medicines regulator … has looked at these vaccines closely and given them the tick,” the Prime Minister said on Monday. Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the vaccine rollout was the beginning of the end of the pandemic.“We want to make sure that this program gets us back to as close to a normal life as we can,” he said. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the start of the massive program was an “extraordinary moment”.NED-3136-COVID-19-Vaccination-Guide-BannerNUMBERS SHOW UK’S VACCINE ROLLOUT IS WORKINGCOVID-19 vaccines have had a significant impact on the risk of serious illness in Scotland, an analysis shows.Public Health Scotland found by the fourth week after the first dose hospitalisations were reduced by 85 per cent and 94 per cent for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs respectively, the BBC reports. .It is the first sign of the real world impact of the UK’s vaccination program. Read the full story.The Splash

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