Regular rapid testing, shorter quarantine for children in daycare as Victoria records 860 new COVID-19 cases

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Victoria has recorded 860 new coronavirus cases and five deaths as the state government announced significantly reduced quarantine times for children in kindergartens and long daycare centres, and anti-vaccine mandate protesters vowed to continue their demonstration outside Parliament House.

There are now 378 people in Victorian hospitals with COVID-19. Of those, 149 are in intensive care and 48 on a ventilator.

Free rapid antigen testing kits will be available to eligible Victorian early childhood services from Monday.

Seventy-one of the patients in intensive care have been cleared of the virus.

On Sunday, 5,030 Victorians rolled up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccine at a state-run clinic, with 87 per cent of the state’s population aged over 12 now double-dosed. There were 48,104 COVID-19 tests processed.

The figures come as the Victorian government announced a new rapid antigen testing regime for the state’s kindergartens and long daycare settings, to bring them into line with schools.

From Monday, all eligible services can opt-in to the program to receive free at-home rapid antigen testing kits for children who have been identified as primary close contacts. The tests will be available to early childhood services affected by COVID-19 outbreaks from Monday, and will be distributed by the end of the week.

Once the tests have been delivered, children who are identified as primary close contacts can return to kindergarten and daycare after seven days of quarantine if they get a negative PCR test on day six at their local testing site, then return a negative rapid result each day they attend their centre from days eight to 14.

Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt said: “These rapid antigen tests will help limit disruption for our children and their families while supporting our early childhood services.”

‘Camp-out’ protest outside State Parliament

Protesters were on Monday vowing to stage a lengthy protest against proposed new pandemic legislation, with organisers urging demonstrators to remain at Parliament “until the bill is heard or postponed”.

A handful of protesters camped out overnight on the steps of Parliament House.Credit:Chris Hopkins

A group of about 20 demonstrators were camped on the steps of parliament about 11pm on Sunday. That number had shrunk to single digits by early Monday morning ahead of another rally set to start at 10am.

The protesters said they planned to be there all week.

The new pandemic laws, which are set to replace state-of-emergency powers when they expire on December 15, will give the Victorian premier and health minister of the day the authority to declare a pandemic and make public health orders.

They will also curtail the role of the chief health officer.

The double-dosed vaccination mandate is also now in effect for residential aged care workers. Those workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to continue working on site.

Private hospitals and day surgeries in Melbourne and Geelong are also now allowed to resume elective surgeries at 50 per cent of their normal capacity.

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