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Construction ‘amplifying and spreading the virus’ before shutdown

Published: in Australian News by .

Victoria’s daily number of COVID-19 cases has hit a new high, while the government has said poor compliance at construction sites meant a shut down of the industry was unavoidable.

Victoria's daily number of local COVID-19 cases has hit a new high, while the government has confirmed poor compliance with restrictions at construction sites meant a shut down of the industry was unavoidable.

The state has recorded 603 new local COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, marking a new daily record for the state in 2021 and taking the number of active cases to 6000.

A woman from Hume has died from the virus in the past 24 hours, while 241 people are in hospital, including 60 in intensive care.

READ MORE: More Melbourne protests over construction shutdown and vaccine mandate

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley.

Health Minister Martin Foley said Victoria's construction industry shutdown, which was announced last night, followed a worrying number of local infections linked to construction sites.

Of Victoria's 6000 active coronavirus cases, 403 are directly linked to 186 construction sites - 362 in Melbourne and 49 in regional Victoria.

"The public health team had no choice but to hit the pause button and continue working with the sector to improve compliance and COVID-19 safety in the industry," Mr Foley said.

Treasurer Tim Pallas said the construction industry was "effectively amplifying and spreading the virus" and the shutdown would be for a minimum two-week period.

"What we have seen is a need for the government to intervene and take strong action in order to protect the community, the workers and their workmates and their families," Mr Pallas said.

Mr Pallas said inspections over a two-week period before yesterday's protest showed 50 per cent of sites failed to meet COVID-19 safety requirements.

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A construction site in Melbourne.

"We put the industry on notice a week ago," he said.

"We needed to see a substantial improvement and we made it very clear that the permitted worker status would be reviewed if they were failed to be adhered to.

"Since then, we've seen poor compliance and further transmission sites being identified and that just cannot continue.

"We can't simply have an industry as one of the focal points, one of the greater areas of activity of the virus spread in the community, not adhering to the safe requirements for work that we put in place.

"Unfortunately, because of abhorrent behaviour and what we've seen, there is a need for the government to intervene and take strong action consistent with the Chief Health Officer's orders in order to protect the community."

He said all sites would be required to show full compliance to current health orders before the expected reopening on October 5.

Protests are continuing for a second day in Melbourne today over the vaccine mandate in the construction sector.

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The closure of construction projects for at least two weeks was confirmed by Mr Pallas last night, two hours before the shutdown came into effect at 11.59pm.

The shutdown applies to all construction projects in Metropolitan Melbourne, Ballarat, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire, with limited exemptions.


Mr Foley said 73.4 per cent of eligible people in the state had received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, while 44.4 per had been fully vaccinated.

Health experts this morning have warned vaccines alone won't stop the spread of coronavirus and even 80 per cent of the adult population being immunised is not enough.

READ:  'This is not a game': Tensions rise over easing Victoria's lockdown

Epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely has co-authored a new report arguing 80 per cent vaccination coverage would not support a safe reopening.

He believes children as young as five years old would need to be vaccinated for society to reopen and for the population to be protected.

Epidemiologist Tony Blakely authored the report warning further innovations are needed for a safe national re-opening.

"If we had 80 per cent of adults only vaccinated, it wouldn't be very pretty next year," he said.

"But if we get 80 per cent of five-plus children also vaccinated, and we keep the minimum public health and social measures in place - like people like me working at home when I can, only going to work one day a week, density limits in hospitality - we'll get to a reasonable (amount of) hospitalisations in a year a state the size of Victoria.

"But we'd still spent 14 per cent of the time in lockdown.

"That's not great but it's getting there but there are further innovations we can do on top of that to make life even better next year."

Source: 9News

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