Victorian COVID-19 outbreak accelerates

Colin Brinsden
More coronavirus cases are expected to emerge as hundreds of Australians return from overseas

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned of challenging and tough days ahead as his home state of Victoria reported another 41 fresh coronavirus infections, as the outbreak that started nearly a fortnight ago intensifies.

Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen says she is very concerned as the state reported its 11th day of new cases in the double digits.

Eight of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks, one is a returned traveller, 13 are from routine testing and 19 are being investigated.

Emergency text messages are being sent to residents in the Melbourne suburbs of Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows encouraging them to get tested.

Mr Frydenberg is also concerned by reports that around a third of returned travellers quarantined in Melbourne hotels are refusing to take COVID-19 tests.

He notes people quarantined in NSW who refuse a test are retained for longer than the usual 14 days.

"Ultimately, if someone gets the coronavirus, they are endangering the lives of others across the community," he said in Melbourne.

Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman was more blunt, calling the actions of these returned travellers "reckless".

"If they are not prepared to do that, they shouldn't come back," he told ABC television.

Labor frontbencher Linda Burney also thought their actions were "really selfish", but she wouldn't go as far as Mr Zimmerman in calling for mandatory testing.

Meanwhile, more than 250 repatriated Australians returned home on a flight from Mumbai via Singapore and will begin two weeks of quarantine in an Adelaide hotel.

On Friday, South Australian Health Minister Stephen Wade warned a number of COVID-19 cases should be expected among the returning passengers, but all those arriving would be tested when they landed and while in isolation.

Six new cases were reported in NSW with five of them returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

The sixth was man in his 70s from Sydney's west.

NSW authorities confirmed anyone in quarantine refusing a COVID-19 test would be retained for an extra 10 days.

Queensland recorded no new cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a day after the state reported its first infection in more than a week. The fresh case was a traveller returning from overseas

Western Australia also enjoyed another day of zero cases, as it eased restrictions even further but kept its border closed.

But WA Premier Mark McGowan isn't getting carried away by the success of his state in containing the virus, saying the threat remains.

"The prospect is the virus will at some point come back," he said in Perth, but added the state is well prepared to deal with it, if and when that occurs.

There are now more than 7640 confirmed virus cases across the country since the outbreak began, which has seen 104 people die, two of them in the past week.

Meanwhile, Mr Frydneberg has been assured by the nation's major banks they will continue to assist their customers through the pandemic and beyond September when the six-month deferral of mortgage repayments ends.

"We recognise some areas of the economy and those workers in it are going to need support for months to come given some of these health-related restrictions remain place," he said.

Mr Frydenberg met with the banks on Friday with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.