Update, 4pm: Warrnambool has hit a significant COVID-19 vaccination milestone as the number of active cases in the region starts to decline.
The Warrnambool local government area today reached 95 per cent first-dose vaccination coverage for people 15 and over, said South West Healthcare.
For statistical reasons, authorities stop updating percentage rates once an area reaches 95 per cent.
Warrnambool is one of only a handful of local government areas in Victoria to hit the milestone.
The city's double dose vaccinations surged past the 70 per cent mark, hitting 73.5 per cent. It was an increase of 8.2 percentage points from last week, easily the biggest jump of the rollout for Warrnambool.
Nearly 300 first doses and 2526 second doses were delivered last week. Two more people were cleared overnight in Corangamite, leaving only one active case from a previous high of four.
The south-west region has also hit 95 per cent first doses, the first in the state to hit the mark. It has also gained the statewide lead for double doses for the first time in the rollout, reaching 69.6 per cent.
It means the region is likely to reach the all important 70 per cent double dose threshold around two full weeks before the state does, triggering an ease in restrictions.
The good news arrives as Warrnambool starts local vaccinated economy trials, opening four businesses to fully vaccinated people.
South West Healthcare CEO Craig Fraser said the high vaccination rate, reduction in case numbers and start of the trials were reasons for cautious optimism.
However, while praising the community for its response, Mr Fraser urged people to remain COVID-safe.
"We are now entering the next phase of our battle against COVID and while we're in a good spot and people can start to move around, we must remember to be safe in everything we do," Mr Fraser said.
"The new trial is a great opportunity for Warrnambool but we have to be aware the threat of COVID is never far away and maintain social distancing and hygiene protocols.
"Our high vaccination rate and the way the community has responded in getting tested and also in minimising movement during this most recent outbreak has allowed us to keep it under control and move into this trial, now we have to embrace a cautious re-opening."
Mr Fraser said he expected the remaining active COVID case in Camperdown to be cleared this week.
Some people in Warrnambool are also approaching the end of their 14-day isolation period.
"We encourage them to keep doing the right thing which will help us to clear more cases, helping us to move closer to our aim of zero cases over the next seven to 10 days."
Over the weekend, 650 people were tested in Warrnambool, bringing the weekly total to 2712. Results are usually returned in 24-48 hours. All tests returned so far were negative.
There were no new exposure sites identified over the weekend.
No new COVID-19 cases detected in south-west for fifth consecutive day
Earlier, 1pm: No new COVID-19 cases have been detected in the south-west for five consecutive days.
It comes as three people have recovered from the virus in Warrnambool, bringing the city's cluster down to 22.
South West Healthcare chief executive Craig Fraser welcomed the news after a COVID-positive couple from Geelong visited the region last weekend, resulting in multiple exposure sites around the city.
"It's a fantastic starting point," Mr Fraser said.
"We want to get the region back down to zero and we're on track to do that but we still have a few hard yards to go; we're not out of the woods completely but we are definitely on that track.
"I think by the end of the week we should see those case numbers come down as they are cleared."
There are now 18 active cases in Warrnambool across five households (with one returned from out of the region), four active cases in Moyne Shire across three households and one active case in Corangamite Shire in one household.
The south-west resident receiving care at the Geelong Hospital with COVID-19 has returned home to the region.
Of the 22 infections locally, the majority are unvaccinated and have not received a first vaccine dose, Mr Fraser said.
Elective surgery has resumed at a 50 per cent capacity at SWH for Category 1 and 2 procedures after surgeries were halted last week.
The testing centre at Warrnambool's Deakin University campus will be dismantled today and the South Warrnambool site by the end of the week, pending the next few days of testing.
In the Corangamite Shire there remains just one active case after three were infected, SWH reported on Monday.
Over 60 people in the Framlingham community were COVID-19 tested by Kirrae Health last week after three cases emerged across two households.
The Framlingham community turned out in force to be tested and vaccinated, with day 13 tests yet to be undertaken for those isolating.
Mr Fraser said testing would continue but the cluster appeared to be under control.
"We will continue to rest because there are a number of people in households where they may have a positive so we just want to make sure if people do show a positive test we're there to support them," he said.
Latest federal vaccination data from October 6 shows high vaccination rates among the Warrnambool and south-west Indigenous population with 43.7 per cent double-dosed and 73 per cent first doses received.
In the same period the Warrnambool and south-west region more generally is sitting at 94.2 per cent of first doses and 65.3 per cent second doses.
SWH COVID-19 testing coordinator Sue Anderton expects the region has pushed second doses above 70 per cent by this week.
"We gave over 2500 second dose vaccines last week so we should be looking to those really high figures this week," she said.
"I believe there was a couple from Geelong that traveled Warrnambool on that weekend where there were exposure sites and there are so far no additional positive cases related to that in our region."
Ms Anderton said SWH had adequate vaccine supply following the state government's announcement on Monday that mRNA vaccines Pfizer and Moderna will be available for all Victorians aged 12 and over.
"We've got supply of Moderna this week and we'll move to our next week's supply of Pfizer in the coming days if we need to.
"Our aim for opening up our communities is to get everybody double vaccinated at the 95 per cent.
Around 300 first doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca were administered by SWH this week.
Over 600 people were tested over the weekend, with around half of those results left to come through.
Four Warrnambool businesses are involved in the state-wide vaccination economy trial kicking off this week.
"I think it's fantastic for Warrnambool and the whole south-west region," Mr Fraser said. "It's great for our community to be part of this trial and set up what the future looks like for us and contribute to that."
As the October 15 date draws closes for authorised workers to receive their mandatory vaccination Mr Fraser urged people to come forward for their priority vaccination appointment.
"My message to people is that there's a lot of proof around vaccinations, not only internationally but locally.
"In Victoria we are seeing the vast majority of people who are seriously ill, who are being hospitalised, are actually those who are unvaccinated.
"So to protect yourself, to protect your loved ones, vaccination is definitely the right thing to do.
"There's a lot of proof and I know into the future people will likely get more freedoms by being vaccinated."
SWH has not yet had to stand down any employees not complying with the vaccine mandate and is working with a number of individuals who have not yet been vaccinated.
"I think people are slowly understanding what it means not to be vaccinated."
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