Victoria has announced a record daily total for coronavirus infections on Friday, with its 288 new cases the highest daily count for any state since the pandemic began.
It is the third time this week the state has recorded its highest daily total, with Friday’s numbers eclipsing its previous 191-case high from Tuesday.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton called the latest total an “ugly number” and predicted higher numbers to come.
“I know there will be great concern about these numbers,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
The total is 76 cases more than the previous high of 212, recorded by NSW on March 28.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the growth in cases was “very concerning”.
“Victoria is continuing to ask for help and they will be getting help,” he said after a National Cabinet meeting involving Mr Andrews.
Thirty-one metropolitan Melbourne local government areas, accounting for five million people, are currently in their second day of a six-week hard lockdown as cases have surged in recent weeks across the city.
“We didn't take that step because we didn't have a problem, we took that step because we knew it would need to get worse before it got better and that unless we took those steps we simply wouldn't be able to bring a sense of control to this,” Mr Andrews said.
He said a record 37,588 tests were performed in the previous 24 hours.
Professor Sutton said contact tracers are now “stretched” with more than 5000 close contacts identified.
“It is a big number,” he admitted, however he told reporters the outbreak was not out of control.
Twenty-six of the new cases are linked to previous outbreaks while the rest are under investigation.
Premier advises residents to wear masks
On Friday, Mr Andrews made the groundbreaking decision to advise Melbourne residents to wear masks when they leave their homes for essential reasons, despite health authorities across Australia previously advising against the practice.
“When you can't maintain that 1.5m social distance... it is our request of you, it's not compulsory, we are simply asking that if you can wear a mask where you can't distance, that is exactly what we would like you to do,” he said.
He identified when using public transport and shopping as key times to wear a mask.
He said two million reusable masks were currently being made to be distributed in the community.
Prof Sutton said students and staff at schools “should feel free to bring a mask if they feel comfortable with it”.
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