The Victorian Ministry of Health said case loads in Mildura have risen in recent days, with nine active cases in the LGA reported before Friday. Three more cases were confirmed Friday afternoon and will be reported in Saturday’s figures.
Meanwhile, residents of Moorabool Shire and Greater Shepparton will leave the lockdown at midnight on Friday with restrictions there to match them in place in the rest of regional Victoria.
Victoria announced on Friday that it had registered 1,838 new locally acquired COVID -19 cases – the highest daily record of any state or territory since the pandemic began.
There were five more deaths reported during the 24 hours to midnight Thursday, bringing the toll from the current outbreak to 75.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton also announced that Victorian students in years three to six would be required to wear masks indoors when they return to the classroom in an attempt to slow down the COVID-19 transmission.
Professor Sutton said that even if younger students would not be required to wear masks, it would be “highly recommended”.
“We really want these measures in place early on to keep children in school and to make sure they are as safe as possible in the school environment,” he said.
“It’s just indoors, we know the risk outside is less, and we know kids still don’t want them running around outside.”
Professor Sutton said face masks along with ventilation and other COVID-safe measures had prevented transfer to schools abroad.
“We certainly saw in the UK where schools reopened without strong mask use or are actually supported with all the layered mitigation that was estimated at eight per cent of students absent from school on suspicion or confirmed COVID,” he said.
The authorities are in the process of drafting the new rules with a step-by-step return to the classrooms in the coming weeks.
Of Victoria’s total number of cases, 35 per cent come from the northern suburbs of Melbourne, while 30 per cent are from the west.
The regions account for six percent of total cases. Professor Sutton said that from midnight on Friday, local government areas of Benalla, Bendigo, Buloke, Loddon and Yarriambiack will be added to the state’s “border bubble”. Some LGAs in NSW, including Wagga Wagga, will also be added.
There are now 620 Victorians in the hospital, 114 of them in intensive care, 76 in need of ventilation.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said about 66 percent of patients with COVID-19 in the hospital have not been vaccinated, while 26 have been partially vaccinated and eight percent are fully immunized.
About 56 percent of the state’s population aged 16 and over is fully vaccinated, while 84 percent have had a dose.
Once 70 percent of the state’s population over the age of 16 is fully vaccinated, expected around October 26, Melbourne’s curfew will ease, the travel limit will be expanded, and venues can open outdoors for the fully vaccinated.
But Victorians will have to wait until the 80 per cent double-dose target is reached, expected by 5 November, for significant changes, including Melbourne hospitality, reopening for seated service and visitors to be allowed to return home.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said on Thursday that he had no plans to change Victoria’s timetable outside of the lockdown given the high daily number of cases.
With Dijana Damjanovic and AAP.