Vic has no local cases, more jabs coming

Victoria has gone three days without any local cases since a Melbourne man was confirmed to have tested positive to COVID-19.

Also on Friday, Acting Premier James Merlino announced the Commonwealth vaccination program in Victoria would be expanded from next Monday, with eligible groups under 50 able to get the Pfizer vaccine.

The health department announced Victoria’s only new case on Friday was in hotel quarantine, with 21,931 tests conducted in the previous 24 hours.

But a further six Victorians may have been exposed to the virus after staying at the same South Australian quarantine hotel where the Melbourne man is suspected of catching COVID-19.

The Department of Health has identified six people now in Victoria as having left the third floor of Adelaide’s Playford Hotel during the potential transmission period.

All have been contacted and are now urgently being tested as they undergo another 14-day quarantine stint.

SA authorities have issued similar orders for 10 discharged returned travellers still in their state.

Mr Merlino said of the 138 primary close contacts to the infected man, 104 had tested negative and the remaining results should be known soon.

“Again, these are very positive signs,” he said.

The Acting Premier added that his understanding is the infected man, from Wollert in Melbourne’s north, is not sick.

Announcing the expansion to the vaccination program in Victoria, Mr Merlino said the state had the capacity to deliver two to three times its current number of vaccinations – but that depended on supply from the Commonwealth.

More vaccination centres are opening, including a centre at Melbourne Showgrounds from Monday. 

From the same day, Victorians aged under 50 in priority categories will be able to receive the Pfizer jab. 

Priority groups include emergency service workers, defence force personnel, meat industry workers, people with underlying health conditions or severe mental ill-health, disability support workers, unpaid carers and public transport workers including taxi and ride-share drivers.

Eligible under-50s must make a booking to receive the Pfizer jab by calling 1800 675 398.

The expanded vaccination drive comes as the Victorian government cracks down on businesses flouting QR code check-in rules after the state’s latest coronavirus scare exposed flaws in the system.

Contact tracing efforts were hampered this week as some patrons at the Curry Vault restaurant, where the infected Melbourne man dined on Friday night, failed to use the QR code system.

In response, the state government warned businesses breaking check-in rules will face a new $1652 on-the-spot fine, with further penalties of up to $9913 and prosecution for repeated breaches.

Checks last week showed more than a third of businesses are not complying with QR code rules.

Authorities dished out 165 enforcement notices and 300 warnings as part of a three-week blitz of 4000 cafes, shops and restaurants in April.

The breaches included a lack of signage, failing to use QR codes, and not having a COVID-safe plan.

The Services Victoria QR code system will become mandatory for businesses from the end of May. 

An average of 28,000 check-ins is being registered on the system every day, with more than 91,000 businesses signing up.

There were 7746 coronavirus vaccine doses in the 24 hours to Friday, for a total of 299,397.

Victoria has gone 77 days without a new local infection.

Government information about vaccine locations and walk-in access is available at coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine. 

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