Mildura to lockdown as two Vic towns exit

Mildura residents are being urged to get tested after a COVID lockdown was announced for the region.
Mildura residents are being urged to get tested after a COVID lockdown was announced for the region.

One regional Victorian town will enter lockdown at the same time as two others come out of their stay-at-home rules, after a number of changes were announced by the state's chief health officer.

On Friday afternoon Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton announced residents in the Mildura Rural City Council area will enter a snap seven-day lockdown from 11:59pm, giving locals less than seven hours notice.

Mildura's infections have risen in recent days, with 12 active cases in the area. Three cases were confirmed on Friday afternoon, to be reported in Saturday's numbers.

"The public health teams are concerned about onward transmission in the Mildura and have determined that the seven-day lockdown is needed to limit growth in cases," the CHO statement said.

Mildura will be under the same stay-at-home rules as Melbourne, excluding the curfew, with a 15-kilometre travel limit and visitors banned from entering people's homes.

More than 86 per cent of Mildura's eligible population have had one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 51 per cent have had two doses.

Professor Sutton urged Mildura residents to get vaccinated, look out for symptoms and get tested if any develop, with a rapid response testing team to be sent to the region for support.

"We've seen regional communities get through an outbreak so we know it can be done - it's vital we protect the local community and the rest of regional Victoria from significant outbreaks," he said.

He has also announced Shepparton and Moorabool's lockdown restrictions will ease from midnight on Friday, after the measures slowed growth of the virus in those areas.

Both town's restrictions will match the rest of regional Victoria, with masks required inside and outside, and social gatherings at home banned.

Victoria recorded five deaths and 1838 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Friday - the highest daily tally of any Australian jurisdiction since the pandemic began.

The deaths include a Shepparton woman in her 70s, a Knox woman in her 70s, a Moreland man in his 70s, a Whittlesea woman in her 80s and a Brimbank man in his 80s, bringing the toll from the latest outbreak to 75.

Earlier on Friday, Professor Sutton said Victoria was "heading to the peak" of its third major coronavirus outbreak.

"If today isn't the peak, and I don't think it is, I think we're close," he told reporters.

While infection numbers remain high, he said ICU admissions were less than one per cent of total active infections.

"Our numbers in ICU, the numbers of those hospitalised is not rising at the same rate, and that's a very good sign in terms of what vaccines are doing now," he said.

There are now 620 Victorians in hospital battling the virus, an increase of 56 since Thursday, including 114 in intensive care and 76 on ventilators.

About 66 per cent of COVID-19 patients in hospital have not been vaccinated, while 26 per cent are partially vaccinated and just eight per cent are fully vaccinated.

About 56 per cent of the Victorian population aged 16 and above are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 84 per cent have received their first dose.

Australian Associated Press