Victoria’s coronavirus cases and death toll soared once again on Wednesday, with the state recording daunting new records for daily deaths and infections.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced 725 new cases – a total that sets a new daily record for Victoria.
The grim figure surpasses the previous record of 723 set last Thursday, and follows two days of daily cases in the low 400s.
Wednesday was also the third consecutive day of deaths in the double digits with a record 15, following 11 on Tuesday and 13 on Monday.
One of the confirmed victims was a man in his 30s.
Due to the high proportion of active cases currently linked to aged care facilities, deaths are expected to rise further in the coming days.
There have now been 70 deaths in the last seven days, while the state’s overall death toll sits at 162.
There are currently 7,227 active cases in Victoria, with 1,435 linked to the aged care sector.
There are now 538 people in hospital, with Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng saying an increased number of aged care residents are now being transferred due to infection control.
“We stepped in to make these transfers where the aged care facility provider themselves has really been unable to provide a safe environment for both residences and for their staff,” Health Minister Jenny Mikakos added.
Warning Victorians it was vital they followed restrictions and did the right thing, Mr Andrews said if people failed to do so, the current Stage 4 restrictions for the next six weeks could last “much longer than they should”.
Health authorities confident new measures will work
The record totals come just two days after Victoria entered its most stringent lockdown yet.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael Kidd reiterated on Wednesday cases seen today will be from infections up to several weeks ago.
"I expect [Stage 4 restrictions] are going to be very successful. We have to remember that the figures we're seeing today reflect infections that occurred a week or two ago," he told ABC News.
He predicts daily figures will begin to fall in one or two weeks.
"I'm very sure that we're going to see significant reductions in numbers as a result of the restrictions of movement around Melbourne that we're seeing right now,” he said.
On Tuesday, Mr Andrews implemented tougher restrictions on those asked to self isolate after 800 people were found not to be at home during isolation periods.
Those who test positive or are isolating for two weeks will not be allowed to leave their property for exercise.
Anyone found to have done so can face a fine of $5000 and up to $20,000 for repeat offenders.
Permits for work and childcare set to kick in
From Thursday, all essential workers in the city will be required to show a permit if pulled over by police to prove they are allowed to leave their homes.
Some workers, such as nurses and police officers, can use their official identification while others have to apply for the permit online, which must be signed by themselves and their employer.
Businesses caught issuing permits to workers who do not meet the requirements face fines of up to $99,123, while individuals can be fined up to $19,826.
Only essential workers will be allowed to send their children to child care, with the federal government confirming it will chip in to pay subsidies so children can be kept at home without losing their place.
The state government on Wednesday announced a permit for those essential workers who need to access child care.
"There will be many, many families who will not be able to access child care as they normally would and that is essential to driving down movement, it is essential to driving down these numbers," Mr Andrews said.
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