Australia’s Victoria state logs record infections ahead of key sporting event

MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Australia’s Victoria state notched up a new daily record of 847 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and one further death, government figures showed on Saturday as health officials warned the public to stay home ahead of a major sporting event.

Officials expect case numbers to keep rising until mid November as the state races to raise vaccination rates above the 70% double dose threshold, up from around 46% currently.

With the Australian rules football grand final, a major national sporting event, due to take place on Saturday evening, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned fans to stay home to avoid putting “you, your friends and your households at risk.”

The match, between two Melbourne teams would usually be played in the city but has been moved to coronavirus-free Western Australia. However, authorities are still worried fans in Melbourne could gather together in households to watch the broadcast game, breaching lockdown rules.

Anti-vaccination protests that hit state capital Melbourne this week spilled into the suburbs on Friday, with police arresting more than 30 people in the city’s inner north.

Authorities are concerned the protests may fuel a worsening outbreak of the virus after one protester was admitted to hospital with COVID-19 late on Thursday.