Daily coronavirus cases and deaths have dropped significantly in Victoria on Thursday, a day after the state’s deadliest day.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced 278 new cases and eight deaths for the previous 24-hour period.
Thursday’s infections total is the lowest in 24 days, while the daily death toll is the first time in a week it has fallen to a single digit number.
The state’s death toll now sits at 275.
The victims announced on Thursday were a female in her 50s, two males in their 70s, two females and two males in their 80s and one male in their 90s. Four of the eight are connected to aged care facilities.
There are currently 664 in hospital, 37 of which are in ICU and 25 requiring a ventilator.
Testing blitz in regional Victoria after ‘worrying trend’
There are currently 492 active cases in regional Victoria, prompting Premier Daniel Andrews to announce a testing blitz in the Bendigo, Geelong and Ballarat regions after “worrying trends” arising in those areas.
“We encourage anybody in Bendigo, Ballarat or Geelong and anyone across regional Victoria, if you've got even the mildest of symptoms, please come forward and get tested,” he said.
“That's an important part of our fight against this virus.”
He announced three new clinics to open in each area while all facilities across regional Victoria will expand their opening hours.
Victorian health authorities have remained confident the current Stage 4 restrictions should drive down numbers if Melburnians continue to abide by the current measures.
On Thursday morning, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told ABC News it was “still very early” in predicting the results of Stage 4 restrictions.
“It is too early to speculate exactly where the figures will go in a week or so. What we do know is that we have to get the rate of community transmission down in Victoria and that has to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.
“We have seen a continuing decline from the very high levels of daily cases that we saw a week ago.
“Obviously, we need to watch what happens over the coming week to make sure that that decline that we're seeing continues and continues to fall.”
‘Rang and ordered 100 ambulances’
Mr Andrews moved on Thursday to clarify the situation regarding transfers from aged care facilities to hospital.
“These decisions are made on clinical need and no other factors come into it,” he said.
“Anybody who needs – in the view of their treating doctor – to go to hospital, will go to hospital.”
The premier hit out at several aged care facilities, saying it wasn’t feasible to simply accomodate all aged care residents in hospital.
“We did have early on in this aged care crisis, a particular provider who rang and ordered 100 ambulances, as if that was something that would be in any way feasible,” he said.
He reassured “anxious” families that for many residents, there was no need to transfer them to hospital.
‘Past the peak,’ expert believes
Mr Andrews said on Wednesday the full effects of the stage 4 lockdown would not be known until next week.
He said it was dependent upon "literally hundreds of millions of individual choices and decisions".
On Wednesday active cases in the state dropped for the first time during its second wave.
"It really looks like we are past the peak now," Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett told Channel Nine’s Today show.
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