Victoria records 11th ‘double doughnut’ day in a row
Victoria has recorded its 11th consecutive day with no new coronavirus cases or deaths.
There are currently just four active cases.
It comes as live music is set to return to Victoria this summer, with Sidney Myer Music Bowl to host more than 40 performances under a plan to kickstart the state's arts and event culture.
The Andrews Government on Monday announced the Live at the Bowl summer festival as part of $17.2 million package to run creative events for Melburnians while under coronavirus safety guidelines.
Of this funding, $7.9 million will go towards allowing institutions such as Melbourne Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria to bring their experiences outdoors.
Arts Centre Melbourne will turn the Sidney Myer Music Bowl into a venue capable of safely hosting live music and performances for large groups.
The festival will run from January to March and is also expected to create up to 2000 jobs
Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson said the funding package would allow cultural institutions to bring back all the best parts of a Melbourne summer.
"This extensive program will showcase Victoria's incredible creative talent, deliver thousands of jobs and reinvigorate our creative, hospitality and events sectors," he said
"It will be a celebration of all we've achieved together to get through this year.
"We know the sector has been really struggling in recent times … It's going to be wonderful to see really important creative industries come back to life."
Museums Victoria will host a series open-air experiences, including movies curated by IMAX Melbourne, while the NGV Garden will curate dining and music from December to April.
The NGV Triennial EXTRA festival will return with weeks of late night events throughout the start of 2020 and the Geelong Arts Centre will present a month-long season of events under a big top.
Outdoor spaces at State Library Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre, ACMI and Federation Square will be also used for public performances and events.
Arts Centre Melbourne chief executive Claire Spencer said Victorians could expect some different experiences while attending the summer program.
"We know that people are desperate to come back to live performances but they want to do know they can do it in a safe way," she said.
"You'll see some changes at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl this summer, there will be platforms built into the side of the hill which will allow groups to gather."
Ms Spencer said crowd sizes would be decided closer towards the end of the year once it was clear what public health advice would allow.
Funding worth nearly $4.3 million will help 16 of the state's arts companies and festival to present outdoor programs in summer and autumn.
This will include major calendar events such as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Midsumma.
Another $5 million will go towards live music performances in the state's regions and outer suburbs to support the industry and spread more events across different parts of Victoria.
MAJOR VACCINE BREAKTHROUGH
Health Minister Greg Hunt has welcomed a coronavirus vaccine study that showed a 90 per cent effectiveness rate against the killer bug.
The Australian Government ordered 10 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech candidate last week.
Results from the company released on Monday night showed that it had exceeded expectations.
Mr Hunt told News Corp Australia: "The data on our vaccine candidates continues to be positive. We will examine the evidence carefully but the latest results are heartening news."
Scientists were "near ecstatic" at the results and the news prompted a 5.5 per cent bounce on the British stock market, with hopes that a jab would be able to unlock the crippled world economy.
The results were based on the first interim analysis of a Phase 3 study, which found 94 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in trial participants.
Of those, 86 had been given a placebo, meaning that it was up to 90 per cent effective.
Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer's senior vice president of clinical development said: "I'm near ecstatic."
NEW TESTING CHALLENGE FOR VICTORIA
Victoria could have dozens of false-alarm COVID-19 tests over coming weeks as previously-infected people continue to shed the virus.
The state's health detectives are facing a challenge to distinguish between new infections and previously-infected people who test positive again as they rid themselves of the disease.
It comes after a visitor from Western Australia tested positive on Sunday, only to later be classified as a case of viral shedding and had been cleared of the virus weeks earlier.
It was the second case of viral shedding detected this week and raises the likelihood of more false-positive cases.
While international data and laboratory testing shows coronavirus patients are only infectious for about 10 days after their first symptoms, Doherty Institute deputy director Mike Catton said people could continue shedding the virus for at least a month, and up to eight weeks in extreme cases.
"It is really that the tide has gone out on the second wave and this is what we are left with - confirming accurately whether any of these people actually represent a communicable community threat or not," Dr Catton said.
"Time will take care of this but we have had a big second wave and a small proportion of those people are shedding for longer periods."
The extremely sensitive COVID-19 test can return a positive result even when only a fragment of the virus remains, or is at levels far too low to be transmitted.
Victoria on Monday recorded its 10th consecutive day without a new COVID-19 case or death, and active infections dropped to just four.
Many Victorians now preparing to undergo medical procedures, going to work or visiting aged care homes must have a test - including those still shedding the virus.
As a result, an expert review panel, including the DHHS public health team and virologists and epidemiologists from the Doherty and other institutes, will have to investigate each potential false-positive.
They will take into account the amount of the virus detected and whether the person is a previous case to determine whether it is a real case or not.
Victoria's testing rates have increased by 8 per cent over the past fortnight with 10,365 coronavirus tests on Sunday, taking the state's 14-day testing total to 235,359.
Originally published as Victoria records 11th 'double doughnut' day in a row