Vic coronavirus spike rattles authorities

Kaitlyn Offer, Marnie Banger and Ulises Izquierdo
Victoria has seen its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases in more than a month

Victorian authorities will keep their guard up ahead of a scheduled further easing of coronavirus restrictions as the state weathers a worrying rise in positive cases.

Community transmission remains a concern in Victoria where 18 cases were recorded on Thursday, bringing the state's total to 1780.

One day after the biggest increase in more than a month, Victoria had six new cases from returned travellers, one case linked to a known outbreak, eight discovered through to community testing and three more that remain under investigation.

There are now 81 active cases in the state, less than a week away from a wider relaxation of social distancing measures.

Victoria's active cases are increasing - they were 66 on May 25 - while nationally they have fallen from 484 on that date to 400 on Thursday.

"Monday is not that far away. The plan is to continue to ease those restrictions on Monday, but a lot can happen in five days," Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen said.

"We don't want to take any chances and if it does continue to climb we will be taking all of that into account when we decide."

Increases in daily new cases make the health department nervous, Dr van Diemen said, and the numbers were expected to rise as the state opened up.

She also dismissed the suggestion that health authorities have felt any pressure to ease restrictions to salvage the Victorian economy.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday urged the state government to ease restrictions so thousands of businesses wouldn't be forced to close or relocate interstate.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said while Victoria was recording substantial numbers, she did not think the virus was out of control as the state had been tracking quite well in recent weeks.

"Clearly, we do have community transmission in Victoria and I want to reiterate the message to Victorians to take this issue seriously," she said on Thursday.

Two of the routine testing cases announced on Wednesday involved a childcare worker and a child, forcing two centres to close.

A worker from Learning Centre Pakenham attended the premises for one day while infectious and it will now be closed for the rest of the week.

The other is Guardian Childcare and Education in Prahran, where an infected child attended for one day. That centre was closed on Thursday for deep cleaning, contact tracing and risk assessment.

A third Black Lives Matter protester has also tested positive but it is understood they were not infectious during the rally earlier this month.

The protester's friends will be tested and retailer H&M at Northland, where the protester works, will also be closed on Thursday.

One of the new cases is linked to the Croydon Family Practice outbreak, taking that total to five.

The six returned travellers who tested positive on Thursday follow 16 confirmed cases announced on Wednesday.

Victoria has been receiving large numbers of returned travellers, particularly from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan where COVID-19 cases have soared.

Large numbers of travellers have also returned to NSW, but it hasn't recorded the same number of cases.

"We test people in mandatory hotel quarantine twice, both near the start of the quarantine and at the end," Ms Mikakos said.

"My advice is that NSW is only testing people at the end, just before they exit the hotel quarantine."