Australia

Australia records two new coronavirus deaths as confirmed infections surge past 10,000

Victorian health officials work to conduct testing during a lockdown of a Melbourne public housing tower. Source: AAP

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced 270 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, nearly 100 more than what was reported a day earlier.

Victoria has recorded another 270 coronavirus cases as the total number of infections recorded within Australia passes the grim milestone of 10,000.

Two more people have also died of the virus in a Victoria, a man and woman who were both in their 80s, taking the national death toll to 110.  

The number of new cases in Victoria was a significant increase on the 177 recorded on Monday and is the fourth day in the past five of more than 200 cases.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd on Tuesday said the country had passed "another national milestone", with at least 10,251 coronavirus infections recorded in Australia since the pandemic began.

"This is in the context of the global pandemic where over 13 million people have been reported as being diagnosed with COVID-19 and with over 571,000 deaths having been reported right around the world," he said.

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Earlier on Tuesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the contact tracing task in the state, which is currently the site of the most significant outbreaks in Australia, was escalating with 242 of the new cases under investigation. 

"Obviously, with such large numbers it's a real challenge to get to the bottom of exactly where those people have been, who they've spent time with, who are their close contact and to make sure that appropriate public health responses are delivered," Mr Andrews told reporters.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Friday, July 10, 2020.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said it was a significant challenge to track and trace so many infections.
AAP

The Premier said 200 paramedics, as well as some 1000 Australian Defence Force personnel, will join the public health team. A number of out-of-work staff from Jetstar, Medibank, Telstra and Qantas will also assist with contact tracing.

"As the task grows, the team needs to grow as well," he said, adding a number of staff from banks will also receive training if required.

"It makes sense for us to call upon them as our task gets bigger and bigger."

Mr Andrews again urged people to get tested if they show symptoms.

“This is a wicked enemy. It is so wildly infectious. It moves so fast,” he said.

“It's cunning in some respects, where people can be infectious for quite some time and not have symptoms, or if they do have symptoms, they're so mild.”

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Tuesday's numbers proved people could not afford to be complacent.

"It's not as high as our biggest single day, but we haven't turned the corner yet. I hope to see that this week, but there are no guarantees," he said.

"We have to rely on everyone doing the right thing in order to drive numbers down."

Meanwhile, New South Wales recorded 13 new cases on Tuesday, 10 of them linked to an outbreak at the Crossroads Hotel in south-west Sydney. There are now at least 28 cases stemming from the outbreak, which prompted Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk to declare the Liverpool and Campbelltown local government areas as COVID-19 hotspots.

Only four per cent of new cases identified in the past week have been overseas acquired, Dr Kidd added. Nationally, ninety people are in hospital with coronavirus, 85 of them in Victoria. 

"Some of the people who are in hospital in Victoria are people who have been moved from residential aged care as a precautionary measure but we are very concerned about the number of people who are in intensive care and the number of people who are on ventilators," he said. 

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne are subject to stay-at-home orders and can only leave home for essential work, study, exercise or care responsibilities. People are also advised to wear masks in public.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Residents in Melbourne public housing towers who need access to support and assistance should call the Housing Call Centre on 1800 961 054. If you need a translator, first call 131 450. Both services are 24/7. More information can be found here.

Additional reporting by AAP.

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