Victoria has announced its largest daily total of coronavirus cases on Monday, with the state’s tally surging beyond 500 for the first time while a further six deaths have been confirmed.
There were 532 confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Monday.
The daunting figure eclipses the previous highest of 484 last Wednesday, and indicates health authorities have yet been able to get on top of community transmission in the Melbourne area in what is now week three of its six-week lockdown.
The figure also sets a new daily record for new cases in Australia.
“We're at a very challenging stage with this wave,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Monday.
“We continue to see far too many people in that setting,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what you do for a job, doesn’t matter what industry, what sector you work in – if you are going to work with symptoms, if you are going to work when you’re sick, then you will inevitably be spreading this virus.”
Victoria’s death toll continues to soar
On Monday, Mr Andrews confirmed a further six deaths.
The latest victims are a woman in her 90s, a woman in her 80s, a woman in her 70s, a man in his 80s, a man in his 70s and a man in his 50s. Five of the six are from aged care facilities.
Victoria has recorded 32 deaths in just five days, taking its overall death toll to 77.
Professor Sutton said the number of cases in aged care facilities is “disturbing”.
Some of the worst hit residences include St Basil's Homes for the Aged in Fawkner with 84 cases, Estia Healthcare with 82 cases, Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping with 77, and 62 for Menarock Life aged care in Essendon.
There are now 683 active cases linked to the aged care sector.
Mr Andrews admitted the state has “a big, big problem” with aged care facilities.
“If it gets into aged care, then we know people will die” he said.
Last week Prof Sutton predicted daily figures for cases would reach 600 in the coming days.
“I'm not going to sit back and say today is the peak,” he said on Monday.
“At the moment, I'm more concerned that we'll probably see a rise in numbers because the outbreaks are really volatile in aged care settings. The numbers can increase very significantly in a very short period of time.”
PM addresses Victoria crisis
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Monday the current numbers are “concerning” and it would take time for locally acquired cases to lower.
“We are still seeing case numbers at elevated levels and so, as we have seen from other jurisdictions, when you get community-based transmission, it does take some time to get that down,” he said.
“We just ask for the continued cooperation and goodwill of the people of Melbourne and Victoria more broadly to ensure that we can get on top of this and even will continue to work together to that end.”
Mr Morrison said current advice indicates it would be “premature at this point” to further tighten restrictions in Melbourne.
“We need to be patient. There has been significant community transmission in Victoria. That will take some time to get on top of and that.”
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