Australia

Victoria records 28 new coronavirus cases, its lowest daily tally in almost three months

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Source: Getty

Another eight people have died from COVID-19 in Victoria, as the daily case number drops dramatically.

The number of coronavirus cases being detected in Victoria continues to drop, with 28 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours.

Eight more Victorians have also died from the virus, taking the state's death toll to 745. Six of the new deaths were linked to outbreaks in aged care facilities, where there are still 464 active cases. 

Thursday's daily tally - the lowest in nearly three months - brings metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day rolling average to 44.4, under the 50-30 target needed to ease restrictions on 28 September.

The last time the state had a daily caseload this low was 24 June, when there were 29 new cases.

"This strategy is working, these numbers of falling and this is exactly what we have to do; stay the course, get these numbers low, and that is what will keep them low," Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday.

"If we open up when they are too high, they will just get higher and higher."

Fourteen of Thursday's cases were linked to known clusters, including five connected to a "concerning" outbreak in Casey, Victoria's deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng told reporters."

The number of mystery cases has been dropping," he said. 

The news comes as regional Victorians awoke to their first day of eased COVID-19 rules, with Victoria Police erecting a "ring of steel" to stop Melbourne residents leaving the city.

Under the new rules, pubs, cafes and restaurants in regional Victoria will be able to reopen for dine-in customers and outdoor gatherings of 10 people are now allowed.

Residents can also leave their house for any reason any distance within regional Victoria.

Primary schools in regional Victoria are also set to start a staged return to in-class learning a week earlier than originally planned due to low case numbers, state education minister James Merlino said.

Some students will be able to return to the classroom from 5 October, the first day of Term Four, with schools able to determine what year group is brought back first. 

"[The return to in-class learning] was always going to be staged. That was the advice we received. Little kids are the hardest in terms of a home learning environment," he said.

Mr Merlino also announced $26.7 million in additional funding for early childhood services, with families able to access up to 15 hours of free sessional kindergarten per week when it reopens on 5 October.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 9pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. 

Between 5am and 9pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

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.

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