Victoria virus-free streak reaches 13 days

·3-min read

Warning that 13 clear days is no coronavirus vaccine, Premier Daniel Andrews doubts Victoria will fast-forward its timetable for more easing of restrictions.

Victoria has not had such a streak without new cases or deaths since February and the state's rolling case average is now 0.1.

There are only three active cases and two people in hospital - neither in intensive care.

While the numbers are good, the ramifications from the state's second wave continue for the government.

On Thursday, Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kym Peake became the third key witness at Victoria's hotels quarantine inquiry to resign, following the exits of Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and top state government bureaucrat Chris Eccles.

After Melbourne's 25km travel limit and the "ring of steel" ended at the start of this week, Mr Andrews flagged November 22 as the next date for restrictions to ease.

That is set to feature 10 visitors per home and limits in indoor hospitality increasing to 100 people.

Despite the healthy numbers, including 20,819 tests in the previous 24 hours, Mr Andrews is not budging for now.

"I'd love to make those announcements this Sunday, but these announcements are spaced out in two-week blocks because that's a life-cycle of this virus," he said.

"Thirteen days of zero cases is not the same as the vaccine. This thing will still be lurking out there, smouldering."

Mr Andrews indicated November 22 could also feature an announcement about workers returning to offices - currently they must still work from home if possible.

"It's a very important question and it's a really big challenge for us to get that balance right," he said.

Meanwhile, authorities are increasingly confident that a health care worker who tested positive in SA on Monday after flying from Melbourne is a case of viral shedding, not a fresh case.

"The positive swab ... is still thought to be intermittent shedding," the Department of Health and Human Services said, adding she and close contacts remain in isolation.

Melbourne Central and Melbourne Airport have been listed as coronavirus hotspots because of the aged care worker's positive test.

As Victoria opens up from its lockdown, police will run Operation Compass over the next three weekends to crack down on bad driving behaviour.

Booze buses will return for the first time since March.

Speeding, drink and drug driving, not wearing seatbelts, mobile phone use and fatigue will be targeted as Melburnians head to regional areas for a break.

This will be the first weekend without the "ring of steel" that cut off Melbourne from the rest of the state during the city's lockdown.

There will also be more police at popular holiday spots.

"While it is fantastic to see people engaging in these recreational activities, we need people to go back to basics and arrive to their destination safely," said Assistant Commissioner John Fitzpatrick.

On Thursday, the state government announced an $868.6 million funding boost for Victoria's mental health system.

And despite Victoria's prolonged lockdown, suicide numbers are down on the same time last year.

The latest Victorian Coroners Court report showed total suicides to October 31 were 580, compared to 600 last year and 587 in 2018.

Victoria's virus death toll remains at 819 and the national figure is 907.

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