Victoria records three local coronavirus cases as national cabinet looms

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Victoria has recorded two new local cases of coronavirus amid key meetings of national policymakers to map out the country’s approach to lockdowns in response to current rates of vaccination.

The state officially recorded three cases with one infection announced on Thursday night. There were no new cases in hotel quarantine and there are 200 active cases in Victoria.

Health authorities received 43,542 tests on Thursday and delivered 19,136 vaccine doses. There were no new exposure sites listed overnight for the state.

Australia’s group of top medical experts were due to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday night to work out how other states and territories can provide additional support to NSW during its growing outbreak.

National cabinet will also meet on Friday to discuss whether snap lockdowns on low coronavirus case numbers are the best way to handle Delta variant outbreaks, given their success in Victoria and South Australia.

New modelling from the Grattan Institute found Australia could ease restrictions and end lockdowns when 80 per cent of the entire population has been vaccinated, a target that could be reached by the end of the year if children under the age of 12 are included in the rollout.

National cabinet will start creating the path out of lockdowns on Friday when the country’s leaders look at how many Australians must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to end economically damaging restrictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed late on Wednesday that the federal government had Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity modelling on the vaccination levels required to end the need for lockdowns and work was under way to combine that with Treasury predictions ahead of Friday’s meeting.

“I don’t want to say that will be resolved on Friday … that will be our first discussion. I suspect many more will be required after that,” he said.

“I hope we’ll be able to set those targets and give more definition to phase two and phase three in that time. But, we have a plan for that.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“We are setting the targets scientifically, combined with the economic advice as well, and that gets us a roadmap to Christmas, I think, that means that we’ll be living life different at Christmas than what we are now.”

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned the nation could fall into a second recession if the Greater Sydney lockdown failed to contain the coronavirus outbreak, as industry groups say home builder grants won’t be as effective to drive another economic recovery.

The economy is expected to shrink over the September quarter due to the extended restrictions in NSW, Mr Frydenberg said.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, which means the next few months are critical.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton on Friday said the Australian Defence Force would be hitting Sydney’s streets “as soon as possible” to help NSW Police enforce tightened lockdown orders.

“You’ll see some people today and over the next day or two we’ll stand up about 300 people,” he said on 2GB radio on Friday morning.

“They’ll work alongside NSW police. It’s important to remember ADF personnel don’t have the powers of NSW police officers.”

With Rachel Clun, David Crowe, Shane Wright, Jennifer Duke and Daniella White

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