Australia

Victoria records 317 new coronavirus cases in biggest daily increase of any state or territory

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Source: AAP

Two new coronavirus deaths and 317 fresh cases were recorded in Victoria on Thursday.

Victoria announced 317 fresh coronavirus cases on Thursday in the biggest daily increase of any state or territory since the pandemic began.

Premier Daniel Andrews also confirmed on Thursday morning two men in their 80s died overnight, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 29.

Of the new cases, Mr Andrews said 28 were related to known outbreaks and 289 were under investigation.

On Thursday, there was 109 patients in hospital, 29 of whom were in intensive care.

"Everyone would prefer this to be a very different set of circumstances but it's not an ordinary winter," Mr Andrews said.

"This is not an ordinary week. If we pretend it is, if we pretend it is over because we want it to be over, all we'll be doing is spreading the virus, seeing more people in hospital and sadly more people will pass away as a result of this virus."

Thursday's numbers came from 28,607 tests, with Mr Andrews thanking Victorians who have come forward for testing.

"It's a massive and powerful contribution to our fight against the virus. You can't contain this if you don't know where it is," he said.

The premier said there were no plans in place yet to increase Victoria's restrictions to Stage 4, but did not rule out the possibility.

"Now, I know there’s been a lot of discussion, a lot written and said about a possible Stage 4. There are no announcements to be made about that today," he said.

"But that shouldn’t be read to mean there will be announcements made tomorrow. We plan for every single contingency."

Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
AAP

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was possible the state had still not reached its peak.

"It's a big number. It needs to turn around. In some ways, I expected it to turn around this week. But as I always said, it's no guarantee. It's upon all of us to be able to turn this number around."

Aged care outbreaks

Prof Sutton said 160 outbreaks were being monitored across “dozens and dozens of postcodes” and there were a number of clusters in aged care facilities.

He said there are now 31 COVID-19 cases linked to the Menarock Life aged care facility in Essendon, where residents have been moved to acute care services. Five cases are linked to St Basil’s in Fawkner, 23 to Glendale Aged Care in Werribee and 21 to various Estia Health facilities.

Prof Sutton said there were no plans to move residents out of aged care centres at this stage. Instead, staff should isolate themselves as soon as they show symptoms, he said.

“We need to focus on making sure staff who are turning up positive are excluding themselves at the very first symptom."

The cluster at Al-Taqwa College has grown to 157 and a cluster stemming from a JBS Australia abattoir in Brooklyn has reached 29, Prof Sutton added.

He said the current wave of infections was not just affecting the elderly, with those hospitalised also including people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

“If we get significant numbers of people in those aged groups infected, we can expect deaths there as well.”

Elective surgeries paused

Meanwhile, certain elective surgeries in Melbourne will be put on hold as the Victorian health system grapples with the surge in cases.

All category three elective surgery will be paused to ensure there are spare beds and workforce capacity.

Elective surgery will also be reduced to no more than 50 per cent of usual activity across all public hospitals and 75 per cent in private hospitals.

It means private hospitals can continue to take on public category one and urgent category two surgery.

Since the pandemic began, more than 1,000 spaces for intensive care and critical care beds have been created or upgraded to support coronavirus patients.

Extra equipment has been ordered, too.

More than 86 million gloves, more than 34 million surgical masks, 1.4 million N95 masks, 2.2 million face shields are currently available in Victoria's warehouse ready to be distributed to health services across the state.

More than 1,200 ventilators are already in Victorian health services, while hundreds more are warehoused if needed and thousands more are on order along with more IV pumps and hundreds of patient monitors.

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

Additional reporting by AAP.

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