There are 578 Victorians in the hospital with COVID-19, of which 117 are on the ICU and 83 on ventilators.
Protests were organized by anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination groups in parts of the Victorian capital on Saturday, including at Campbellfield Plaza and in Glen Waverley.
Police said three people were arrested “for various offenses” and 27 fines were issued for people who violated public health guidelines.
“Victoria Police will continue to have a highly visible presence to maintain public safety and to ensure that any protest activity that violates the CHO’s directives does not affect the wider community’s right to carry out their daily lives,” a police spokeswoman said.
Earlier Saturday, Health Department Deputy Secretary Kate Matson said thousands of secondary close contacts would be released from quarantine over the weekend as health teams struggled to cope with escalating viral infections.
She said secondary contacts would no longer be “actively managed” by public health teams, and 16,000 people across the state would receive a text message releasing them from quarantine.
“This just recognizes the changed risk and the changed environment we are in,” she told reporters.
“We are no longer chasing COVID-zero in Victoria and we have 17,000 active cases in Victoria.”
Although secondary tight contacts no longer need to be insulated, primary tight contacts will be asked to insulate away from the rest of their household.
Secondary contacts are still encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 if they show symptoms.
Meanwhile, a flight attendant from Virgin Australia has tested positive after routine monitoring tests by the airline.
The crew member worked on six flights while it was contagious from 4 to 6 October, including return trips from Melbourne to Adelaide, Sydney and Newcastle.
Passengers on affected flights should be contacted by their state health agencies.
“Employees on these flights have been considered close contacts. Most live in Melbourne and will be contacted by the department,” Matson said.
A virus outbreak in Mildura has grown to 37 active infections after the regional border town was toppled in a seven-day lockout Friday night.
Matson said the next seven days would be crucial for the region.
Mildura will be subject to the same rules of repatriation as Melbourne, excluding curfews, with a travel restriction of 15 kilometers and a ban on visitors to people’s homes.
Health officials say 41,177 vaccine doses were administered nationwide Friday as well as 73,000 virus tests.
Eighty-five percent of Victorians over the age of 16 have now received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, of which 57 percent are fully vaccinated.