Australia suffers deadliest day of pandemic

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Australia has recorded its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday and the biggest daily rise in infections in three days, denting hopes that a second wave gripping the state of Victoria may be stabilising.

Victoria reported 21 deaths - two more than the previous deadliest days earlier this week - and 410 new cases in the past 24 hours, ending a run of three consecutive days with new infections below 400.

The latest deaths are two women and one man in their 70s, six women and five men in their 80s, five men and one woman in their 90s and one woman in her 100s. Sixteen of the latest deaths are linked to aged care.

VICTORIA NUMBERS

• 15,646 total confirmed Victorian cases, 7877 remain active

• 2961 "mystery" cases, an increase of 58

•  662 people in hospital, with 43 in intensive care and 25 on ventilators

• 1079 active cases among healthcare workers, 1929 in aged care

• 183 active cases linked to residential disability, including 61 staff

A cluster of infections in Melbourne, the Victorian capital and Australia's second-largest city, forced authorities last week to impose a night curfew, tighten restrictions on people's daily movements and order large parts of state economy to close.

Outside the two largest states of Victoria and New South Wales, the virus has been effectively eliminated.

Authorities in NSW are scrambling to trace infections linked to a new cluster at a school in Sydney, which has raised fears of more widespread community transmission than previously known in Australia's most-populous state.

Australia has reported just over 22,000 infections and 352 deaths from the virus.

Victorian authorities had warned deaths would continue to rise, given the number of people in hospital with the virus.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told a parliamentary inquiry that 20 deaths a day was "relatively modest" compared with what was happening in other parts of the world.

Wednesday's record number of deaths comes amid a war of words between the state and federal governments over Victoria's botched hotel quarantine scheme.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the Australian Defence Force had not been on offer to guard the hotels when the scheme began.

But Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said ADF support had been offered to Victoria on multiple occasions.

Jobs Minister Martin Pakula, whose department co-ordinated the hotel quarantine scheme, is due to face the inquiry on Wednesday.

- Reuters and AAP

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