Victoria records 73 new local COVID-19 cases as the list of high-risk exposure sites nears 950

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Victoria has recorded 73 new local cases of coronavirus as authorities consider whether some restrictions can be safely eased across the state.

Fifty-two of the new cases are linked to the current outbreaks, and authorities are investigating the acquisition source for the remaining 21 cases. Monday’s cases were recorded from nearly 42,000 COVID-19 tests.

Scenes from Melbourne lockdown: La Trobe Street last week.Credit:Paul Jeffers

The Department of Health did not specify how many of Monday’s new cases were in isolation for their entire infectious period and said further information would be provided later this morning.

The figures come as senior government ministers consider easing some restrictions, including reopening playgrounds and allowing year 12 students back into the classroom.

State government sources, who spoke to The Age on the condition of anonymity to provide insights into high-level discussions, said ministers would consider which restrictions could be wound back as epidemiologists warned reaching zero cases in Victoria was increasingly unlikely.

Senior government officials are expected to make a final decision on Tuesday about what lockdown will look like beyond Thursday when it was scheduled to end.

Victoria recorded no new coronavirus cases in its hotel quarantine in the past 24 hours.

More than 26,700 people received their COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Exposure sites pass 930 mark

Coronavirus exposure sites across the state have passed 930, with an Echuca aged care facility among the new additions late on Sunday.

The Echuca Community for the Aged’s Wharparilla Lodge was listed as a tier-1 site across nearly a fortnight: from Friday, August 13 to Thursday, August 26.

Tier 1 means anyone who attended the site during the specified timeframes has to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they receive a negative test result.

Several more tier-2 or casual contact sites were identified late on Sunday evening, including another Melbourne apartment complex, laundries in Richmond and St Kilda, and service stations.

Woolworths at Shepparton was declared a tier-2 exposure site across several hours on Monday, August 23, while Woolworths at Arden Gardens, North Melbourne was declared tier-2 between 4.30 am and 1.30pm on Sunday, August 22.

All Australians 16 to 39 now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine

While Victorians and people in NSW aged between 16 and 39 have been eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine since last Wednesday, the expanded eligibility has now come into effect across the rest of Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the expanded eligibility criteria a fortnight ago.

The change has been reflected in the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker.

On Friday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advised that children aged between 12 and 15 should be added to the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

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