Victoria has announced a further 19 coronavirus deaths – its highest daily toll – for the second consecutive day.
The Department of Health and Human Services also announced 331 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, offering further evidence the second wave has now stabilised.
It follows 322 cases on Monday and is the sixth day below 500 daily cases after a daunting record 725 cases on August 5.
The state has now recorded 54 deaths in just three days, with its overall death toll now standing at 248.
Of Tuesday’s confirmed victims there is one female in her 50s, one male in his 70s, six females and four males in their 80s and four females and three males in their 90s.
Fourteen of those 19 deaths are linked to aged care outbreaks. There are 650 Victorians in hospital, 47 of those in ICU.
Victoria now is experiencing the effect of elevated case numbers which began to dramatically spike several weeks ago.
Health authorities expect further high daily death tolls with the ABC’s medical expert Dr Norman Swan not expecting deaths to drop off for at least another week.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told reporters in Canberra there is a “seven to 10-day lag between the daily reports in numbers of cases and people dying”.
Adressing the media, Premier Daniel Andrews defended his government’s decision to enter Stage 4 when asked if it was a premature decision.
"As difficult as these decisions are, as heartbreaking as the consequences of these decisions are, this is the only way forward,” he said.
“If it wasn't for the six weeks, it would be six months and the data backs that. That means we get to pretty much Christmas and we'll still be closed essentially.”
Premier faces grilling over botched hotel quarantine
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Andrews faced a parliamentary inquiry over his government's handling of Victoria's second coronavirus wave.
Mr Andrews deflected a barrage of questions from several MPs, repeatedly citing the upcoming judicial inquiry into the program – a stance that has become routine at his daily press briefing.
Public Accounts and Estimates Committee deputy chair Richard Riordan clashed with Mr Andrews and labelled the crisis the “most disastrous economic and social catastrophe in Victorian history”.
“How will you take personal responsibility for this? You’ve told us on numerous occasions you will be personally responsible. What does personal responsibility mean?” he asked.
“I have not only accepted ultimate responsibility and accountability for any issues in that part of our pandemic response, and all issues in our pandemic response,” Mr Andrews hit back.
“But I've established an appropriate arm's length process chaired by a former judge - not for the avoidance of scrutiny.”
Yet Mr Riordan refuted his claims, saying “after a month of acknowledging failures in hotel quarantine, nothing has been seen, no admissions by you have been made, no acknowledgement of the error has been made by you.”
His final question attempted to ridicule Mr Andrews over his government’s choice on who should run the hotel quarantine operation.
“Did you, or did the crisis cabinet think hotel quarantine would be better run by people who fix roads and run an art gallery than your own health department?”
“The answer to your question is no,” Mr Andrews replied.
Mr Andrews also told the inquiry Australian Defence Force personnel weren't on offer to guard the hotels, despite reports to the contrary.
"It is fundamentally incorrect to assert that there was hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow someone said no. That's not, in my judgement, accurate," he said.
Greens MP Sam Hibbins also roasted the premier over the locked down housing towers, who said Mr Andrews failed to keep his promise of providing support to all residents.
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