Victoria has reported a spike in cases, with 1488 new local infections on Saturday. It brings the total number of active cases across the state to 11,591. Two more people with COVID-19 have died. It comes on a day where 71,224 Victorians turned out to get tested, while 36,878 vaccines were administered in state hubs. The daily tall is Victoria’s highest for the whole pandemic. It comes as former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu warned that the state’s post-pandemic economy will notrebound quickly and that recovery could take between 10 and 15 years. “I don’t think we’re going to get a bounce back. We’re going to need a rebuild, using football terms,’’ Mr Baillieu told an online summit of state leaders. Mr Baillieu was one of four ex-premiers to address the VECCI summit on the state’s path out of the Covid pandemic.Mr Baillieu said the state’s character and strengths would ultimately overcome the “economic catastrophe”.Steve Bracks said he was optimistic of a quick economic comeback and that it would be a V-shaped turnaround.And John Brumby told the summit that the state’s greatest challenge after the pandemic was meeting skills demands, especially in the health sector. “Firstly, 53 per cent of all new jobs in Australia are going to require a university degree and 10 per cent are going to require a diploma. And that’s going to be the engine room of economic growth. “The second thing is that one in every four new jobs will be in health and related industries.’’These jobs would meet demands caused by the ageing population, Covid-related backlogs and NDIS growth, he said.“I’m not sure any government in Australia is on top of this issue about the extraordinary demand and the shortages that are going to occur in this space over the next two years if we don’t do something truly transformative.’’ In framing Victoria’s outlook, Mr Brumby evoked the memory of former US president Abraham Lincoln, saying that the best way “to predict the future is to create it”. Jeff Kennett said the burden of the state’s $170bn debt was a major concern.“We don’t have the capacity as a state to earn the revenue to pay that off within the next 20, 30 years.’’Mr Kennett also identified population drift as an issue and also called for a state-managed loan scheme to help small businesses to fight back. He floated again a previous idea of merging Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania as one administrative force to increase efficiencies. He also decried a lack of common purpose across the nation and also urged Australia to increase its presence in Asia as a stepping stone to the world. VECCI chief executive Paul Guerra said the summit aimed to bring the state’s thought leaders together to plot a path to recovery, preserving the state’s strengths while detecting new opportunities for growth. “All of us want a better Victoria,’’ he said.National – 2021 – Covid Vaccination StatsRAPID TESTS ‘KEY PILLAR’ OF REOPENINGMelbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp is calling on all levels of government to work together to deliver rapid antigen testing to the events sector, dubbing the technology a “key pillar in Melbourne’s renaissance”.Ms Capp said the country could not waste another minute when it came to introducing the testing kits.“Australia is already late to the party,” she said. “We have been watching closely as these tests have been utilised overseas to facilitate COVIDSafe events and reopen larger businesses.”The Lord Mayor said the kits – in conjunction with high vaccination rates and QR codes – would see the City of Melbourne hold its premier events “with confidence”.“The arrival of these tests aligns perfectly with the Spring Racing Carnival, Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” she said. The rollout of the technology would see event attendees wait about 15 minutes for results before safely entering venues.NED-4653-VIC-vaccine-mandateHELP FOR MENTAL HEALTHFree pop-up clinics are now open to help Victorians struggling with their mental health because of Covid lockdowns. Last month, the Andrews government announced it would boost its support network with 20 new clinics and eight of these are up and running. It comes as demand for mental health services has surged during the pandemic and added extra strain on the already overburdened system. Under the rollout, three new Cohealth clinics will open in Melton, Kensington and Sunshine.Other organisations will open their own additional pop-up centres in Ringwood, Ballarat, Frankston, Mildura and St Kilda.NED-3869-Covid-19-Exposure-Sites-Victoria“Just two weeks after we announced a boost to mental health services, almost half of our pop-up centres are ready to open their doors to any Victorian who needs support through this challenging time,” Mental Health Minister James Merlino said. “With the remaining pop-up clinics coming online across Melbourne and regional Victoria in the coming weeks, we aren’t wasting a moment responding to increased demand and making sure people get the right care, close to home.” Each clinic will provide telehealth and in-person appointments and provide some walk-in sessions where possible.They are part of a $22m commitment to fast-track specialist care for those needing mental health support and reduce the burden on emergency departments while Covid cases increase.
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