Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

Authorities say the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Sunraysia is targeting younger and unvaccinated people, as the region reports a record number of new cases.

36 new cases were reported in Mildura on Monday morning, with a further five announced later in the day.

The nearby town of Dareton also recorded four cases on Monday, bringing the total number across the Sunraysia region to 111.

More than 2,600 tests were conducted in Mildura over the weekend.

The young and immature

Loddon Mallee Public Health Unit Director Bruce Bolam said of Mildura’s 95 active cases, only three were over 60 years old.

“To [number] is a reflection of a really high level of vaccination, “he said.

The latest statistics show that 88 per cent of residents 15 and over in the Mildura LGA have received a dose of a vaccine, while 54 per cent are fully vaccinated.

NSW Far West Health District CEO Umit Agis said 70 percent of Dareton’s 16 active cases were under the age of 16, and none of the cases were vaccinated.

“Teenagers tend to be pretty mobile. It will definitely be a challenge for us to move on,” Agis said.

A man speaking into a microphone at a press conference with journalists in the foreground
Jeroen Weimar spoke at Mildura Base Public Hospital on Monday.(ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Richard Crabtree)

Vax rates considered

Victoria’s COVID commander Jeroen Weimar, who was in Mildura on Monday, said local vaccination rates would be taken into account when deciding when Mildura came out of the lockdown.

A seven-day lockdown was announced for the regional city on Friday.

“I’m still worried about daily case numbers, but increasingly it’s a lot more about where the remaining vulnerabilities are and where the risks are,” he said.

Weimar acknowledged that there were concerns about the spread of the virus in the region’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Only 60 percent of eligible indigenous peoples in northwestern Victoria have received a dose of a vaccine, while 33 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data.

“There is more work to be done to ensure that everyone has had access to vaccination, has received a vaccination and understands the importance of vaccination,” he said.

“There are a lot of teams going together right now to make sure we really reach out to people who haven’t been vaccinated yet, to make sure we get it done.”

Mallee District Aboriginal Services CEO Jacki Turfrey said there was hesitation and “mistrust” in some pockets of the local indigenous community.

“Our mobs reluctance to get through regular support systems.

“But we do our best to cover our own cohort, and we do not do it alone.

“All the service providers in town help in that space.”

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Casey Briggs looks at national vaccination rates

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