The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, will unveil a roadmap for the state to ease Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday, with some concessions expected as early as this week on the back of a surge in the vaccination rate.
While daily case numbers and Covid deaths continue to increase, the focus for Victorian authorities has shifted to another number: the vaccination rate.
On Tuesday, 445 cases and two more deaths were recorded: a man in his 20s from Hume, whose infection was not known to authorities until after his death, and a woman in her 80s from Brimbank.
Victoria is expected to reach 70% of the eligible population with at least one dose of vaccine by Friday, a milestone Andrews has previously said would trigger an extra hour of daily exercise and an increase in the travel restriction from 5km to 10km. The state had earlier been forecast to reach the milestone on 23 September.
Andrews told reporters on Tuesday the plan out of lockdown would be released on Sunday. Lockdown restrictions are no longer in place in regional Victoria, except in Shepparton, which appears to have overcome the worst of its outbreak and recorded no new cases on Tuesday.
Deputy premier James Merlino said the government would consult the Burnet Institute modelling – as the NSW government had done before announcing its own plan to ease restrictions – ahead of Sunday’s announcement.
“I know you want to hear it, I know people watching and listening at home want to hear it. We’re all desperate for that next step. I understand that,” he said.
“The importance of the Burnet modelling is critical. Getting the most up-to-date advice. But the most … significant thing that we can all do as individuals, for our families, and our friends, is to get vaccinated.
“The more that we are vaccinated, the more we’ll be able to do.”
Kate Matson, the deputy secretary of Victoria’s Covid-19 response, said the health department had not been aware the Hume man had Covid-19 before he died.
The virus had been detected after a postmortem was conducted, she said, but as the department were only informed of the death late Monday other details, including whether he lived alone, were not known.
“The death of the gentleman in his 20s is extraordinarily sad. And we do pass on our sympathies to his loved ones,” Matson said.
“We have very little information with respect to that gentleman … he wasn’t a case we were aware of. We’re getting information from the coroner … to try to provide support to this family.”
Hume, a largely working-class area taking in suburbs in Melbourne’s outer north and stretching west to the town of Sunbury, has been the epicentre of the current outbreak.
Data released by the federal government late last month showed the LGA had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state, with only 22.4% of the eligible population fully vaccinated, and 40.8% receiving at least one dose. An increase in vaccine supply to the area was announced on Sunday.
Merlino, who is also the mental health minister, also announced a $22.1m package on Tuesday to fund an increase in services, including for 20 pop-up clinics across Melbourne and regional Victoria that will be staffed with 90 clinicians to provide 93,000 hours of care.
“We know throughout this pandemic over the last 19 months, some Victorians have been really struggling, whether that’s through isolation, whether it’s financial stress, whether it’s illness and indeed … loss of a loved one, via Covid,” he said.
“This has been an incredibly difficult, unprecedented time, and many Victorians are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.
“This has been exacerbated by a mental health system that we know is broken.”