Australia

Victoria records 303 new coronavirus cases and four deaths amid 'encouraging' signs crisis is slowing

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Authorities say while the number of new daily infections is starting to stabilise, Victorians can't afford to become complacent.

Victoria has recorded 303 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, down from 372 the previous day.

Four more people, a woman in her 80s, two men in their 80s, and one woman in her 90s, have also died from the virus since Friday's daily coronavirus update. Two of the victims were connected to aged care facilities. 

The new deaths follow 14 fatalities announced the previous day, including a man in his 20s who became Australia's youngest coronavirus fatality. The state's death toll from the pandemic is now 293, while 41 Victorians are being treated in intensive care and 28 are on ventilators. 

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton on Saturday said the number of new infections was starting to stabilise following the introduction of harsh Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne. 

"It's important that people understand that the actions they have taken, especially in recent weeks, are showing up in our numbers now," he said. "We are seeing the fruits of a very difficult period of restrictions."

Daily infection numbers in Victoria have steadily dropped over the past week after hitting a high of 725 new cases in 24 hours earlier this month. 

Professor Sutton said the number of new outbreaks reported each day was now in the single figures, down from 20 or 30 new clusters each day.

The 'R' number, which refers to the number of people a person with COVID-19 infects on average, was now likely below one, he added.

“As I always reinforce: there is no room for complacency," he told reporters. 

Premier Daniel Andrews also warned Victorians against letting their guards down. 

"The signs are encouraging, but it is not over," he said.

Mr Andrews said there were still significant concerns around outbreaks in the aged care and disability sectors, including 89 cases linked to disability care settings.

There are now 124 aged care facilities with active cases, the premier said, and 184 deaths resulting from aged care outbreaks.

"While some stability has come to a number of these settings, this is still a very significant challenge for all of us," he said.

Another 264 cases with no known source were also reported on Saturday, but Mr Andrews warned that "coronavirus detective work" was not done at once.

"It does take time to try and work out, try to exhaust all possible sources and then to declare that case a mystery case," he said. "I would not read too much more into that, it is simply the product of multiple days' work being brought to book."

Melbourne residents remain subject to night-time curfews, are only permitted to leave the house for essential supplies once a day, cannot travel beyond five kilometres from their home and must wear a face mask while in public. 

Stage 3 restrictions apply across the rest of the state.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm 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 8pm, 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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