Australia has experienced its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic with Victoria announcing a further 19 deaths on Monday.
It follows a then-record 16 deaths on Sunday, however there has been another drop in daily infections with 322 new cases announced by the Department of Health and Human Services.
It is the first time daily cases in Victoria have dropped below 350 cases in nearly two weeks.
The deaths, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled “devastating”, take Victoria’s death toll to 229 and Australia’s to 314.
There have been 59 deaths in the state in just four days, with further spikes in the death toll expected as the state experiences the effects of daily cases entering the 400s about three weeks ago.
“Sadly, when it comes to the fatalities that result from COVID, that reflects a situation of several weeks ago now as the virus has taken its course with these particular individuals,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
The victims confirmed on Monday are a man in his 50s, one woman in her 60s, two men in their 70s, one man and six women in their 80s and one man and seven women in their 90s.
There are currently 7869 active cases in Victoria, with 1065 of those health care workers.
Mr Andrews called on the public to adhere to the rules which would in turn take medical staff out of “harm’s way”.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said on Monday it was clear restrictions in place in Melbourne and Victoria were beginning to stabilise infection rates.
“We will obviously be very happy when we see them head consistently south,” he told ABC News.
“What is clear is that the Stage 3 restrictions and now the Stage 4 restrictions have led to a plateau and there is every expectation that the stage restrictions have restricted movement enough that the basic reproductive number is going to fall substantially below one.”
Monday’s total is the fourth time in five days daily cases have dropped, down from 394 on Sunday and 466 on Saturday.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday the drop was likely to be a result of stage three restrictions introduced at the beginning of July across metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.
Premier reluctant to speculate on future restrictions
He said on Monday said it was very early to attempt to measure the current effects of Stage 4, but said it was evident more Victorians were following the rules compared to several weeks ago.
“This strategy is difficult, it's heartbreaking, it's very challenging, but it's the only one that will drive down movement across Victoria and, therefore, drive down case numbers,” he said.
Mr Andrews refused to speculate on what figure the daily cases would need to drop to at the end of Stage 4 restrictions for it to be deemed a success.
"The next stage is all about these restrictions that we've had to painfully impose. But we just don't know [a figure]. We can't predict where we'll be at the end of this,” he said.
"But what we can be certain of, without any doubt, that if we don't limit movement, we've got zero chance of driving down these numbers. That's why these decisions are important."
Metropolitan Melbourne has been under tough Stage 4 restrictions - including an 8pm-5am curfew - since August 2, while regional Victoria is under Stage 3 measures.
Wearing a mask in public across Victoria is mandatory, with fines of $200 for those failing to do so.
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