Victoria cases dip despite death toll of 17

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
The Australian state of Victoria has recorded 394 new cases of Covid-19 and a record 17 deaths as the state nears completion of a week of stage-four lockdown restrictions.

The 17 confirmed deaths in Victoria due to Covid-19 announced on Sunday - including two people in their 50s - takes the state's death toll to 210 and the nationwide tally to 295.

Other confirmed deaths on Sunday included four people in their 70s, six people in their 80s and five people in their 90s. Ten of the 17 were linked to aged care outbreaks.

Premier Daniel Andrews said more than 2700 confirmed Covid-19 cases around the state have no known source and remain the primary concern of health authorities.

There are almost 1000 Victorian health care workers who currently have Covid-19.

"Even large numbers in known contained outbreaks are, to a certain extent, less significant than the smaller number of cases where we simply can't find the circumstance or the point of origin," Mr Andrews told reporters.

The number of new cases on Sunday is lower than the 466 recorded on Saturday, 450 on Friday, 471 on Thursday and record 725 cases on Wednesday.

Metropolitan Melbourne has been under tough stage-four restrictions since last Sunday evening, but residents won't see the results of their efforts for another one to two weeks.

Mr Andrews suggested the current Victorian case numbers were reflective of "the tail end of the stabilisation that was the product of the stage-three rules", as well as mandatory mask usage for people who leave their homes.

"That's still got an R-rate (or reproduction rate) of about one or just under, which means that every person who has it is giving it to at least one other.

"We have to drive that so that every third or fourth person who has it is infecting someone else."

Almost 270 Victorians have been fined over the past 24 hours for breaching the restrictions, including a man helping a friend to move a TV 27km across Melbourne.

Victoria Police issued a total of 268 fines to individuals in the past 24 hours including 77 for curfew breaches, 38 for failing to wear a face mask when leaving home and 13 for vehicle checkpoint violations.

"Not only is it the wrong thing to do for your family and every family it's also the sort of behaviour that will mean this second wave goes longer than it should," Mr Andrews said.

"These rules are binary now - the curfew is there, permit system is there."

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, meanwhile, declared in a late-night Twitter thread on Saturday she had put "every ounce of energy" since January into halting the spread of Covid-19 in the state, but "if it wasn't enough, then I'm deeply sorry".

"Let the independent (hotel quarantine inquiry) judge do her job, let the cards fall where they may.

"I believe there is nothing to fear in seeking the truth. The truth will set you free," Ms Mikakos said, adding that civil disobedience further endangers citizens during a pandemic.

Some 43 Victorian Covid-19 patients are currently in intensive care, with 26 on ventilators.


As the nation's coronavirus death toll continues to climb, the federal government is putting pressure on the state's to "do more".

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters from his electorate in Melbourne where he too is under 'stage-four' lockdown: "it should never have got to this".

He challenged the states to dig deeper financially to protect the economy and championed the federal government's $A314 billion ($NZ335 billion) spend on bracing the nation.

"The states need to do more," he said. "They have the balance-sheet strength to do so."

Federal opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen said any requests for more state assistance should be specific and made through National Cabinet, not via a public slanging match.

Meanwhile, Queensland closed its borders to New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory residents as of Saturday in a bid to prevent a second outbreak.

The move caused traffic delays of up to two hours at border crossings and police turned away more than 140 people including some who lied about where they had come from.

Western Australia has extended its border closure indefinitely, with Premier Mark McGowan saying it could last months or even into next year.

NSW residents have become largely confined within their own state, after Queensland's new border restrictions.




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