Melburnians warned lockdown could last months

Victoria is at the “tipping point” of the latest Delta outbreak, and health authorities warn the state could be locked down for months if new clusters continue to emerge amid a rise in mystery cases.

Concern is mounting over clusters spread across the city after eight major outbreak sites emerged in just over a week.

Contact tracers are now racing to connect five new mystery cases recorded on Sunday to existing clusters across Caroline Springs, Melton, Middle Park, Richmond, and Maribyrnong.

Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said Victoria was at a “tipping point”.

“Our concern today is that we’ve done a really good job with the communities around the schools, around the shopping centres out west, around the footy club, a number of other community groups. Those numbers are pretty stable, and they’re all contained,” he said.

“That’s why this is a real tipping point.”

Thirteen of the 25 new infections announced on Sunday were out in the community while infectious, with active cases across the state rising to 185.

“I don’t know what our position will be on Thursday, but these are not good signs,” he said. “There are a number of mystery cases and those numbers continue to grow and that is really challenging. These numbers are too high.”

Mr Andrews said stay at home orders could remain in place for months if needed to prevent cases from snowballing like in NSW, which recorded 415 new local cases on Sunday.

“The choice really is between where we are now and hundreds and then thousands of cases,” Mr Andrews said, adding that the strategy was to avoid the situation in NSW where hundreds of thousands of extra vaccine doses are needed after lockdowns and contact tracing failed.

“I’m determined to make sure that it doesn’t happen here. I know no one’s enjoying this. But what’s worse than this is, well, being locked up till the end of October, or indeed the end of November because that’s how long it may well take to get 80 per cent of people through the vaccination program,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews said Victoria was “running alongside” the state’s outbreak but had to drive cases down before figures spiralled out of control and the healthcare system became overwhelmed.

Four Covid-infected Victorians are in hospital, including one in intensive care.

Young people appear to be fuelling the spread of the virus, as new figures reveal that 83 people aged under 19 are infected.

Across the state, 44 children under 10 and 39 youths aged between 10 and 19 are infected with the virus.

Sixty-five people aged 20 to 40 years also have the virus.