As many as 476 people have been hospitalised, with 98 in intensive care and 57 on ventilators.
Royal Melbourne Hospital ICU manager Michelle Spence warned the upcoming few months are going to be “really tough”, for Victorian nurses, and warned the virus “does not discriminate” when it comes to young and old.
The facility is caring for 135 coronavirus patients, with 19 in intensive care. Another 49 are receiving ‘hospital in the home’ treatment, and eight are waiting in the emergency department for a bed.
“One of the saddest things I've seen over the last few weeks is people wanting the vaccination just before we put them on a life support machine. That is the absolute truth, I've seen it myself,” she told reporters, visibly emotional.
“They're begging for the vaccination, they're very young, and once we get to that and we're about to put them a lot of support, it is really too late.”
Victoria announces vaccine mandate for authorised workers
She spoke of watching a man in his thirties without underlying conditions being moved to intensive care because he had not been vaccinated.
“All three of these vaccines are safe and effective and your best protection against this virus to protect you from coming into a COVID ward or needing ICU," she said.
Northern Hospital Nurse Unit Manager Jacqui Harper said patients were arriving at hospitals struggling to breathe, some needing high levels of oxygen ventilation immediately.
“The clinical deterioration is so sudden. One minute sitting in a chair, an hour later, they could be saying their goodbyes,” she said.
“It is difficult for our patients, unable to see loved ones - we have to hold the iPads for them.”
Ms Spence said nurses have had training fast-tracked to work in intensive care – with a “staged plan” to open more beds as required.
Nurses could be flown in from interstate to work on the frontline, with discussions with health providers in Queensland underway.
“There's things that are coming out of the woodwork that we would never have done before but there is a need to do it,” she admitted.
“We will do whatever it takes to get the staff there.”
Premier Daniel Andrews expected the re-opening period to be “in many respects, the best time for our state, but it will be the hardest and most challenging time for our health system".
When Melbourne emerges from lockdown near the end of October, the state will have spent more time under stay-at-home orders then any other city in the world.
“I would simply say how proud I am of every single Victorian forgoing so much for working so hard to save lives to get through this. We achieved an enormous amount last year,” he told reporters when asked about the milestone.
“We didn't choose for this Delta variant to come to us from Sydney. It did. It's taken hold, it's wildly infectious. We've got to stick together.”
The spiralling COVID-19 outbreak has crept into a Melbourne immigration detention centre, putting more than 200 refugees at risk.
Among Saturday's cases was a contracted service provider at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows, the Australian Border Force confirmed.
Contact tracing, quarantining, testing and deep cleaning is underway at the facility, which as of June housed 239 people.
It is unclear how many of those have been vaccinated, with an ABF official saying "consenting detainees" had been offered the jab since a vaccine rollout began at the facility in early August.
COVID-19 taskforce commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed first dose coverage for NDIS recipients had reached 71 per cent, but admitted it was “far short” of the 82 per cent first dose figure for the general population.
“We're really keen to ensure that the most vulnerable Victorians that are disabled residents and disabled citizens are able to get access to vaccine.”
Ten new pop up vaccination centres will open in Victoria tomorrow, equipped with more than 100,000 Moderna doses.