Victoria records 1196 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths as experts say jab lockouts should end

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Victoria has recorded 1196 new coronavirus cases and three deaths as experts warn the state’s lockout of unvaccinated people should end as COVID-19 vaccination rates rise.

The figures bring the number of active coronavirus cases in Victoria to 9774.

More than 95 per cent of Victorians over the age of 12 are expected to be vaccinated by the middle of next month.Credit:Paul Rovere

Healthcare workers are caring for 284 people with the virus in state hospitals. There are 105 in intensive care while 29 are on ventilators.

Fifty-three people in ICU have been cleared of the virus.

On Tuesday, 72,754 COVID-19 test results were processed in Victoria.

Another 3358 people rolled up their sleeves to receive a vaccine dose at a state-run hub, bringing the fully vaccinated proportion of the population aged over 12 to 89 per cent.

The much-anticipated 90 per cent milestone of fully vaccinated Victorians over the age of 12 remains elusive after authorities last Thursday relaxed nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions.

Experts have argued that Victoria’s vaccination rate for eligible Victorians, which is on track to reach 95 per cent next month, is high enough to protect the state from any increased transmission that might happen if the unvaccinated were given the same rights as those who’ve had their jabs.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said last month that the two-tiered rules would continue until 2023, but said last week said they would last “at least” until the Australian Grand Prix in April.

On Tuesday, Mr Andrews said he hoped the restrictions would be released sometime in 2022 when most people had a booster shot. He said he might say more about the timeline for the vaccinated economy when Victoria’s numbers reach the mid-90s.

Among the experts who spoke about the need for the vaccinated economy to end, Professor Leask, an immunisation policy expert at the University of Sydney, said making the vaccination requirement ongoing could create “radicalisation effects”.

Deakin University senior research fellow Josh Roose said the government’s “hardline” approach to vaccination was being exploited by protest organisers to frame the government as tyrannical and anti-democratic.

“[Mr Andrews] knows he is on a winner when it comes to anti-vax messaging because the majority of people are on board, but it doesn’t necessarily help and may even reinforce a reluctance to get vaccinated by people who believe they are being forced,” Dr Roose said.

“If there is anything the government has learnt based on polls, it’s that playing tough works, even if it provides fuel for fringe protest movements.”

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