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Coronavirus: Victoria announces drop in daily new cases to 471

Victoria has announced another 471 new cases of coronavirus in the most recent 24-hour period before Thursday.

There were eight deaths, with four linked to aged care, Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters this afternoon.

“Two men in their 60s, three men and two women in their 80s, and one woman in her 90s,” he said.

There are now 7,449 total active cases in the state with 107 additional mystery cases revealed.

“They [mystery cases] won't be from today's data, and those cases that are under investigation, they will lag behind a day or two, but that's from that coronavirus detective work that's been done from yesterday's numbers and the numbers before,” Mr Andrews said.

While Victoria struggles to drive down the case numbers, NSW continues to stay on top of outbreaks in the state, announcing a further 12 new cases Thursday.

Victoria's death toll reaches 170

The number of new cases is a considerable drop on the record 725 new cases announced by the state yesterday.

The previous state record was set last Thursday when Victoria recorded 723 new cases in a single day.

The last three days have also seen deaths in the double digits with a record 15 on Wednesday, following 11 on Tuesday and 13 on Monday.

The state’s death toll now sits at 170.

According to the latest figures, there are 538 Victorians with coronavirus in hospital – a number that jumped by 82 from Tuesday to Wednesday – with 42 of them in intensive care. Those figures will likely rise further today.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews introduced tough new restrictions earlier this week. Source: AAP
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews introduced tough new restrictions earlier this week. Source: AAP

Tough new restrictions for businesses kick in

Tough new restrictions for businesses and workers kicked-in for Melbourne at midnight last night.

People allowed to work on-site now have to show a permit or official work ID if they are stopped by police to prove they can leave their homes, or face fines of up to $99,123 for businesses and up to $19,826 for individuals.

Since the stage four restrictions were announced by the Victorian government on Sunday, there's been rising confusion about who can and cannot leave home for work in metropolitan Melbourne.

For many businesses, the guidelines on who was allowed to travel for work came frustratingly late, with the state’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos tweeting a public link to the updated guidelines at 1am Thursday.

Mr Andrews thanked members of the affected industries such as construction, manufacturing and food suppliers, for working with the government to finalise the new restrictions to reduce the number of shifts for workers.

“It was a very long night, very late night trying to settle these matters but I'm very grateful to them,” he said.

“No-one enjoys having to wind back activity in any part of the economy and no-one enjoys, certainly, putting timelines off. But if we're going to drive down these numbers we've got to limit the activity that's going on.”

Retail stores across the city will largely be closed to customers from today, while construction and manufacturing work will also been scaled back in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

Permitted workers and those working from home who cannot supervise their kids must fill out separate forms to send them to child care, kindergarten or primary school.

“I'm not for a moment saying businesses are happy about this. They're not, I'm not, workers are not.

“This is not the position we wanted to find ourselves in. But the reality of the challenge we face, a greater challenge than perhaps we've ever faced, is we have to make these tough calls,” Mr Andrews said.

Premier grilled on botched hotel quarantine

Mr Andrews was grilled by reporters for minutes on end about his responsibility in the botched hotel quarantine regime which saw a contractor allegedly use WhatsApp to recruit inexperienced security guards.

“Genomic sequencing data had clearly shown that at least a significant proportion of cases could be traced back to hotel quarantine,” Mr Andrews admitted, accepting it had led to more deaths.

Mr Andrews said “multiple agencies” were responsible for overseeing the program, which allegedly resulted in a number of breaches by security guards.

“In terms of challenges with hotel quarantine, there were a number of outbreaks in a number of different hotels,” he said.

An inquiry into the quarantine regime, and the questions that continue to surround its failure, has been pushed back due to the Stage 4 restrictions in the city.

For now, Mr Andrews said “the lines of authority and accountability and exactly what has gone on here, it is not clear.

“I will be accountable for those answers, and for any errors, any mistakes, that were made. That's the job that I have.”

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