The Andrews government has signed a $ 125 million deal with Samsung as part of a $ 190 million program to provide 51,000 air purifiers to Victorian schools in an effort to prevent transmission of the virus.
Victoria reported 628 new cases and three deaths on Thursday night, marking the largest daily increase in cases in this outbreak, surpassing the previous record of 603 new infections on Tuesday.
Education Minister James Merlino has confirmed that the town of Ballarat will end its seven-day lockdown at midnight tonight as the public health team is confident the outbreak is “contained”.
Some restrictions will remain in place, including the mandatory wearing of masks indoors and outdoors and no visitors will be allowed to enter the homes.
Mr. Merlino also announced a major package of $ 190 million Victorian Schools initiatives to “ensure that when our schools open, they stay open”.
The Victorian government has signed a contract with Samsung that provides that $ 125 million of this package will provide 51,000 air purifiers to every low-cost public, Catholic and independent school in Victoria.
“In an Australian first, we will have the biggest investment ever in ventilation in schools,” he said.
“We don’t want to go back to school and have thousands of COVID positive children get sick, hundreds in the hospital or worse – it’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
“We also know that Delta is not going anywhere, it is going to be with us for a while so there are things we can do to mitigate the risk, to reduce the risk of airborne transmission.
“This is not an announcement of something we intend to do… this is a contract to deliver and the first shipment is arriving by air next week.”
Mr Merlino explained that the air purification devices remove “nasty particles” from the air, including the coronavirus, and the program will focus on high-risk areas such as infirmaries, canteens, staff rooms and music rooms.
“As you can imagine, there is a huge, global demand for these products around the world and we are working to get as many schools as possible equipped with these devices,” he said.
The government has already set up – and will continue throughout quarter 4 – infrastructure audits, ventilation assessments, CO2 monitoring in a sample of schools.
Under the program, $ 7 million of the new funding will be allocated for 3,500 additional CO2 devices and assessments will be conducted in 20,000 rooms to properly inform the rest of the deployment.
An additional $ 60 million will go to all low-cost government and Catholic and independent schools in grants of up to $ 25,000 to purchase shade sails – program registration ends Oct. 22.
“This is about creating more outdoor learning spaces and this complements the existing Ministry of Health shade sail program,” Merlino said.
The education minister confirmed that the earthquake that rocked Melbourne on Wednesday morning has been revised down from magnitude 6.0 to 5.8.
The earthquake – which struck the Mansfield area around 9.15 a.m. – was followed by three aftershocks of magnitudes 5.5 at 9.40 a.m., 4.0 at 9.55 a.m. and 3.1 at 10.15 a.m.
“Geoscience has confirmed that there is a possibility that we receive more aftershocks and a potential risk of new earthquakes. Indeed, more aftershocks could occur for weeks or even months,” Mr. Merlino.
EMV (Emergency Management Victoria) has issued a statewide warning to ‘watch and act’.
Mr Merlino said 35,000 customers suffered power outages this morning – mostly in the northern metropolitan area – and were currently being reconnected.
The Victorian government also announced that it would conduct a trial including schoolchildren and their families “to explore the feasibility” of home antigen testing arrangements in “anticipation” of pending approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
In a sixth step, the Chief Medical Officer of Health indicated that vaccination would be a “job requirement” for all staff in all schools under the Public Health and Welfare Act, as well as for workers of all early childhood education and care establishments.
“We all know that vaccination is our way through this pandemic,” Merlino said. “These protest staff, they protect the students, they protect the families of our children.”
The first dose will be required by October 18 and a second dose by November 29.
“It’s very clear – if you don’t have your first dose by October 18, if you don’t have your second dose by November 29, you can’t go to school… anyone who works out placed in schools or early childhood establishments they will not be able to work there if they are not vaccinated, “Merlino told reporters.
The state continued to progress towards the 70% double-dose vaccination mark with an increase of 43,056 doses in the arms during the last 24-hour benchmark.