Australia

Man dies from coronavirus in Victoria as state records 20 new cases

A drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at Northland shopping centre in Melbourne, Monday, 22 June, 2020. Source: AAP

A man in his 80s has died from coronavirus in Victoria, taking the national toll from COVID-19 to 103, as the state records another 20 new infections.

A man in his 80s has died of coronavirus in Victoria, as the state records 20 new cases.

The man is the 20th person to succumb to the virus in the state and the first death in Australia in a month, taking the national toll to 103.

Of the state's 20 new cases on Wednesday, nine have been identified through routine testing, seven are linked to known outbreaks and one is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

Three cases remain under investigation.

Three people have been linked to a Keilor Downs family cluster, three are staff members at Hampstead Dental in Maidstone, and another case has been linked to St Monica's college at Epping.

One case has been linked to Northland H&M, bringing the total number of cases in that cluster to five.

There are currently 30 people with COVID-19 in hotel quarantine.

A COVID-19 testing site at Craigieburn Health in Melbourne, Tuesday, 23 June, 2020.
A COVID-19 testing site at Craigieburn Health in Melbourne, Tuesday, 23 June, 2020.
AAP

It's suspected a family cluster in Hallam began when a worker at the Stamford Plaza, which is hosting returned travellers, contracted the virus.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said 241 cases have been identified as community transmission, an increase of eight since Tuesday.

"That number has been around 10 every day but a decrease of eight is somewhat encouraging," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"It certainly means we're not getting an increase or an exponential increase in community transmission cases day-by-day, but there are 141 active cases in Victoria with over 1000 close contacts."

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It is the eighth day of double-digit growth in new cases, bringing the state's total number of infections to 1884.

The steady increase in new cases prompted the state government to pause easing of restrictions and to name six local government areas as coronavirus hotspots: Brimbank, Casey, Cardinia, Darebin, Hume and Moreland.

"There's a real surge on testing," Professor Sutton said.

"That's put a lot of pressure on the testing sites but since the weekend we have worked with planning to get as many new testing sites up in those areas as possible."

A testing site at Melbourne Showgrounds will open at 1pm on Wednesday for Keilor Downs Secondary College students, teachers and parents before opening to the general public on Thursday.

Two sites have also opened at Footscray Bunnings and Cragieburn Central.

The health department has warned testing may be temporarily suspended at drive-throughs if there is "unprecedented demand", due to safety and traffic management reasons.

It comes after Victoria Police were called in to manage the traffic at the Chadstone Shopping Centre site, just 20 minutes after it opened on Wednesday.

"We do apologise and we ask for people to be patient," Professor Sutton said, urging people to go to their GPs instead.

He said the health department was working to get COVID-19 information to multicultural communities but admits it has been a "complex process".

"It is not a simple case of pamphlets and campaign materials," Professor Sutton said.

"You do need that community leadership, community champions and all of the modes and methods available to you to try and get messages out."

He said conspiracy theories on social media haven't helped.

"There are people who use social media from their country of origin or amongst their network of friends as their primary source of information. A lot of it tells them that it's all rubbish messaging from government," he said.

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

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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