Victoria has recorded 270 new cases of coronavirus as health authorities desperately try to contain the state’s outbreak.
Tuesday’s figure is nearly 100 more than what was recorded on Monday, and more than 700 cases have been recorded in the past three days with health authorities saying “all options” are on the table in terms of tightening restrictions.
Of the new cases, 28 are connected to known outbreaks, Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference this morning.
There are 242 new cases currently under investigation.
“Obviously with such large numbers it's a real challenge to get to the bottom of exactly where those people have been, who they've spent time with, who are their close contacts,” Mr Andrews said.
“And to make sure that appropriate public health responses are delivered at that individual and family level right across those suburbs and, indeed, right across the state.”
Victoria now has more than 1800 active coronavirus cases, he said.
The premier again urged people to get tested.
The state recorded 177 new cases yesterday – the first time in four days the number had dropped below 200. The state had surpassed 200 new daily cases in the previous three days, including 273 on Sunday and a record 288 on Friday.
Mr Andrews warned the public they will be fined if they are caught breaching restrictions, lamenting that police had “seen a few examples of people not doing the right thing”.
“This is a wicked enemy. It is so wildly infectious. It moves so fast,” he warned.
“It's cunning in some respects where people can be infectious for quite some time and not know it – not have symptoms or, if they have symptoms, they're so mild. That's why, if you've got symptoms, you've got to come forward and get tested.”
There will be around 1,000 additional ADF personnel deployed to the state in the coming weeks to assist in the public health response including helping authorities conduct testing.
“This is all about trying to stay a step ahead of the needs. That is incredibly challenging when we see the number of cases presenting each day,” Mr Andrews said.
“But a bigger team - and particularly where you've got great confidence that you're purposing or tasking the best skills for the best purpose, that's when you can start to see some really significant improvements.”
‘Further restrictions need to be considered’
The rise in cases in Victoria in the past week has put a dark cloud over the country’s efforts to return to normal.
Outbreaks in aged care facilities have increased concern for elderly Victorians who are more likely to die from the disease.
The infection at Menarock Life residence in Essendon has spread to 28 staff and residents, becoming the largest aged-care cluster of coronavirus in Victoria to date.
An outbreak at Glendale Aged Care in Werribee has grown to 13 cases, while Japara Central Park Aged Care in Windsor has two positive cases.
There are 11 cases linked to a supermarket in Essendon and 14 cases linked to Somerville retail services, the state’s Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton said Tuesday.
There are also nine cases linked to Riverina apartments in Footscray.
Mr Sutton said “all options” were on the table if the state needed to introduce stricter controls on public movement.
“Further restrictions need to be considered. We can't rule anything out if there aren't sufficient mechanisms to drive down transmission,” he said.
“We would do the minimum required, because we know how much of an imposition it is on businesses and people's lives but if it's required to reduce transmission, then it has to be in play.”
A number of health care workers have also tested positive to the virus, prompting the Royal Melbourne Hospital to ban visitors from Tuesday. Visitors will not be permitted at any of the hospital's sites except if required as an essential caregiver.
‘Conceivable’ all cases came from bungled hotel quarantine
It’s possible all of Victoria's active coronavirus cases could stem from the state's botched hotel quarantine program.
Mr Sutton said it was “conceivable” that all active COVID-19 cases in the state were linked to the program after Victoria had controlled an earlier wave of infections this year.
“It's genomically linked to the (hotel) quarantine cases, but not all of the viruses that are out there at the moment are sampled, not all of them can be grown in order to get the genomic sequencing,” he told ABC Radio in Melbourne on Monday night.
When asked if most cases could stem from one hotel, Professor Sutton said “that's conceivable absolutely”.
Mr Andrews announced an inquiry into the state's quarantine scheme, to be led by former judge Jennifer Coate, after protocol breaches by guards at the Rydges on Swanston and Stamford Plaza hotels were identified as the source of coronavirus outbreaks.
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