Calls mount to reopen the doors of Victoria’s regional residents who live in isolation with no active cases

Calls mount to reopen the doors of Victoria's regional residents who live in isolation with no active cases

Hundreds of thousands of Victorians across the state live in areas free of the Coronavirus.

But for now, they’re still undergoing a tough phase 3 lockdown.

Pub owner Mitch Duncan, who runs The Farmers Arms Hotel in Daylesford, is one of them.

His Local Government Area (LGA) in Hepburn, which has a population of about 15,000, has no active cases of COVID-19.

The region has recorded two cases since the beginning of the epidemic.

He said he and other business owners did not see the logic in staying locked-down when the risks were low locally.

“Common sense indicates that any region, town or region that does not have any active cases should be allowed to fully open its doors,” he said.

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said decisions would be made about science, data and modeling, but that provincial Victoria was “on the cusp” of easing restrictions.

“I have a unique understanding of the frustration of those who don’t have much – or any – viruses, and the fact that the rules apply to them.”

Over 600,00 people across 30 LGAs

There are more than 676,000 people living in regional and rural Victoria in LGAs with no active cases.

There are 30 LGAs without a single active infection, ranging from Mildura in the northwest to the Alpine region in the northeast; Glenelg in the southwest and Wellington in the southeast.

Businesses in the Victoria Regional are still under closure, but we hope that trading will take place again soon.(ABC News: Daryl Turby)

Many LGAs bordering NSW and South Australia do not have active cases, while some of the state’s regional centers, such as Bendigo and Shepparton, have seen their cases dwindle to odd numbers.

Bendigo Health CEO Peter Faulkner said he would like to ease restrictions – although caution is needed, he is confident of local contact tracing teams.

Ballarat, which had only 60 cases in total, is now at zero.

Geelong in the west and Latrobe in the east are treating cases in low teens, while Colac is fighting a recent outbreak that has resulted in 29 active cases.

The prime minister was asked yesterday why regions without cases, like Mildura, are placed in the same Colac basket, more than 500 kilometers away.

This would involve dividing the country into different regions, drawing borders and bringing them under control of checkpoints, Andrews said.

The premier stressed that it may be possible as early as next week for the Victoria Regional District to meet the thresholds required to begin easing restrictions.

This includes reaching an average of fewer than five new daily cases within a two-week period, and fewer than five “vague” cases, as disease investigators cannot trace the source of transmission.

As of yesterday, the Regional Victoria has had an average rolling of 4.5 new daily cases, and eight mysterious cases.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said there was no “hard and fast rule” about appointments.

Health officials will need to consider a range of factors, such as whether there has been a spike in recent days, whether the cases are linked and the circumstances of the outbreak.

Professor Cheng said, “The date, as I say, is a bit like the due date for pregnancy. Only 5 percent of babies are born at the actual birth date, and there is a range before and after birth.”

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