Australia

Victoria records seven more coronavirus cases and two deaths as the 14-day average continues falling

A person is seen exercising in Melbourne, Thursday, October 1, 2020 Source: AAP

Victoria has recorded another seven coronavirus cases and two fatalities, taking the state's death toll to 802.

Victoria has recorded another seven coronavirus infections and two deaths, as the state's mystery cases and 14-day averages continue their promising decline.

There were 14 cases with an unknown source in the state as of the latest update on Friday, with the 14-day rolling average sitting at 12.8 for metropolitan Melbourne and 0.2 in regional Victoria.

It comes after Victoria's death toll hit 800 on Thursday.

Melbourne's 14-day average needs to drop below five and there must be fewer than five mystery cases for a fortnight before the state eases further restrictions.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday said Victorians "could be optimistic" about a significant easing of restrictions on 19 October, when Melbourne is expected to move to the third step on the government's roadmap.

Under stage three of the roadmap, there will be no restrictions on reasons to leave home or how far people can travel. 

"This strategy is working, and people can be rightly optimistic and hopeful .... The Victorian community has risen to this challenge so well and we've just got to see this through,” Mr Andrews said. 

Revised hotel quarantine program 

The latest numbers come as health authorities confirm two workers in the state government's revised hotel quarantine program were on duty while infectious.

The Department of Health and Human Services says the workers, among nine who have tested positive since the program was overhauled, were asymptomatic at the time.

The DHHS also says the latest positive case was in late August.

On Friday, Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the hotel quarantine program would now have "strong and accountable leadership in terms of the structures that we are now using to deliver emergency accommodation - making sure that we have got proper oversight, audit and proper checks and balances". 

The hotel quarantine program, which sparked the state's second wave of COVID-19 infections, is now being run by Corrections Victoria.

"The one message is that we are really confident in the reset and when (international) flights arrive, we certainly will be ready," Corrections Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said. 

Staff from Spotless were replaced by police mid-shift on Wednesday at the Novotel in Southbank, after a healthcare worker told The Age she feared their practices would lead to further COVID-19 outbreaks.

Victoria's hotel quarantine program was overhauled in June after private security guards caught the virus from returned travellers and spread it into the community, sparking the state's devastating second wave.

Five of the nine hotel quarantine workers to test positive to coronavirus since the overhaul are Spotless employees.

One was a DHHS staff member and another was a Victoria Police officer, while the other two were agency staff according to the department.

The Victorian government maintains they did not contract the virus at work.

According to State Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, there were no further transmissions from the nine infected staff into the community.

The DHHS also said three of the infected staff members had contact with known outbreaks - one connected to Victoria Police, one an aged care facility and one a public housing outbreak - while five were in households.

The other positive case was likely through community transmission, the DHHS said.

'Distancing circles'

Meanwhile, the City of Melbourne has begun painting “physical distancing circles” across four parks to encourage people to stay safe while spending time in the sunshine.

Three metre painted circles are being installed in Princes Park, Flagstaff Gardens, Kings Domain South and Buluk Park.

One of the City of Melbourne's physical distancing circles that aims to keep people safe in parks.
One of the City of Melbourne's physical distancing circles that aims to keep people safe in parks.
Supplied

The circles will help people using the parks to remain at least 1.5 metres apart, City of Melbourne CEO Justin Hanney said.

Under current restrictions in Melbourne, no more than five people from two different households can spend two hours together outside.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction'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 https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW,VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania

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