Victoria has recorded 428 coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours – another daily record and a daunting total that suggests the true extent of the outbreak in Melbourne is not yet known.
It is the second worst day for Australia since the pandemic began in terms of confirmed cases, only surpassed by March 28’s national total of 469.
“Certainly 428 new cases is both disappointing and concerning,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters on Friday.
“We have not turned the corner here.”
The magnitude of Victoria’s coronavirus crisis continues to grow, routinely producing new records in terms of daily cases and pushing the state’s resources to their limits.
To put Friday’s daunting figure into context, it is more than double NSW’s largest daily total of 212, again recorded on March 28.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed a further three deaths from the virus, taking the state’s death toll to 32.
The victims are two men, aged in their 70s and 80s, and a woman aged in her 80s.
Professor Sutton warned on Thursday, as the state recorded a then record 317 cases, the peak of the latest outbreak may not have been reached.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told the Nine Network on Friday the results of Melbourne’s lockdown might not be seen for another week.
Further restrictions to be considered
The troubling surge in cases over the last week, with the latest daily figure more than double that of Monday’s, has prompted discussion of Stage Four restrictions – a move health authorities will now be considering in their bid to curtail the community transmission occurring throughout Melbourne.
“We are all thinking about the additional measures that may be required if it does not turn around,” Prof Sutton said.
“So we are not just banking on the idea that if we wait long enough those numbers will stabilise and drop so we must bear in mind any additional measures that are important to help control the numbers.”
Mr Andrews said everything is “still on the table”.
Despite the new record, Mr Andrews insisted the current restrictions were working.
“That ring around Melbourne and Mitchell Shire is working, in terms of reducing the spread of this virus into regional Victoria,” he said.
However Mr Andrews said that could quickly change if a small minority failed to follow the rules.
He singled out two people who had travelled 200km in a round trip across the locked down area as an example of breaches that threaten the work being done to contain the virus.
“That is not daily exercise. That is a day trip and day trips are not on. There is nothing about that that is compatible with staying at home,” he said.
Fifty-seven of the new cases are connected to known outbreaks, one is from quarantine and 370 are under investigation.
There has now been 5165 cases across the state, with 122 people in hospital. Of those, 31 are in intensive care.
The Al-Taqwa College outbreak now sits at 160 cases, the Somerville Retail Services cluster at 51 cases and the Menarock aged care facility in Essendon at 38.
Warning for regional Victoria as cases rise
Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday announced coronavirus testing would further ramp up across the state with new sites to be set up in regional Victoria after 42 cases outside of Melbourne since July 1.
“We are keeping a close eye and monitoring the data on a daily basis and it is an important for regional Victorians to not become complacent,” Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.
The regional testing sites will be established in Echuca, Wonthaggi, Bendigo, Shepparton, Koo Wee Rup and Mildura.
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