Authorities continue to struggle to get a grip on Victoria’s coronavirus crisis as the state announced yet another daily record for cases, edging close to an unprecedented 500 infections.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced 484 new cases on Wednesday, with suggestion the daily numbers were stabilising in recent days now thrown out the window.
The alarming total for the state surpasses Australia’s worst day for cases on its own, higher than the nation’s 460 cases recorded on March 28.
Victoria’s previous record total was on Friday, when the state confirmed a further 428 cases.
“We're at a really, really challenging phase of this pandemic,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said, predicting daily cases could reach 600 in the coming days.
“I think that will be an even greater challenge in days ahead.”
Mr Andrews confirmed a further two people have died, taking the state’s death toll to 44.
Both victims were male and in their 90s.
Of the new cases, 97 are connected to known outbreaks and 387 are under investigation.
From Thursday, five millions residents in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will be made to wear a face mask or covering in public settings. Those who do not comply can face a fine of $200.
Ninety per cent of symptomatic Victorians not isolating
He said such behaviour was “simply unacceptable”.
“The only thing you can do when you feel sick - the one and only thing that you can and must do when you feel sick - is to go and get tested. Nothing else is acceptable.”
There were 3,400 cases which failed to isolate before testing between July 7 and July 21, Mr Andrews said.
He also said over 50 per cent weren’t isolating when they were awaiting their test results.
“To have less than half of people following those very, very clear orders - that is contributing to these numbers. There's no doubt about that.”
Prof Sutton stressed anyone who develops symptoms should isolate immediately.
“You're actually most infectious in the first couple of days of your illness. So the very beginning of that runny nose or sore throat or cough or low-grade fever is when you're most infectious,” he said.
“So getting tested very early on and isolating right at the beginning is a really key action.”
Mr Andrews said he would make a further announcement on who is eligible to receive cash handouts due to time off work.
Currently those who test positive to coronavirus and their close contacts can apply for a $1500 one off payment to cover their wages over two weeks of isolation.
There is currently no funding for those awaiting test results who are isolating.
Health authorities are now likely weighing up the potential to enforce further restrictions to curtail the spread, however Ms Andrews said on Wednesday there would be no new restrictions announced currently.
One move understood to be on the table could restrict residents to a 5km radius around their home.
He warned the current lockdown could go for “much longer” than six weeks if cases continue to rise.
"Unless we have people who get tested staying at home and isolating until they get their results, then we will not see these numbers come down,” he said.
Surfer fined for 100km beach trip
Victoria Police revealed on Wednesday 61 fines were issued in the previous 24 hours to rule-breaching Victorians, including one individual who travelled more than 100km to go surfing.
Nineteen fines were also issued to drivers at vehicle checkpoints leaving the city.
Health authorities are now focusing on workplace infections, with a large percentage of infections linked to workers.
Thirteen of those cases are linked to Australian Lamb Company, another abattoir that has seen cases rise due to the close working conditions seen in the industry.
There is growing concern essential workers are contracting the virus before taking it home to their families.
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