Victoria 'well placed' to ease more restrictions as state records just one new case and zero deaths

Victoria has recorded a single new case of coronavirus that may be removed from the state's tally, paving the way for the state's restrictions to ease further.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is taking his first day off in more than 100 days.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is taking his first day off in more than 100 days. Source: AAP

Premier Daniel Andrews says Victoria will open up earlier than planned after the state recorded a single case of COVID-19, which may be removed from the tally.

Authorities are investigating whether the case recorded on Tuesday is active or if the person is "shedding" non-infectious fragments of the virus after earlier testing positive.

If the case is removed, Tuesday would mark the first day since 9 June that the state has reported no new cases of COVID-19.

"This could potentially be a day of zero and it's been a long time since we had a day of zero," Mr Andrews told reporters.

"It's a testament to the hard work of every single Victorian in the city, in the suburbs, in regional communities, large and small."

Another case recorded on Tuesday involving a Victorian who is quarantining interstate having returned from overseas isn't included in the figures.

Mr Andrews said the state was "well placed" to bring forward the further easing of restrictions slated for 2 November, which includes the reopening of retail and hospitality industries in Melbourne.

"It's very important that we see this thing off properly, so Sunday will be a day where we can have more to say," he said, ruling out the possibility of pubs reopening for the AFL grand final on Saturday.

Mr Andrews said he hoped to remove the "ring of steel" dividing metropolitan and regional Victoria in November.

Melbourne's 14-day rolling average of new cases dropped below seven to 6.4 and the number of mystery cases in the city in the fortnight to Saturday also fell by two to 13.

No deaths were recorded on Tuesday, with the state's death toll remaining at 817, while the national figure is 905.

Eleven Victorians are in hospital fighting the virus, although none are in intensive care.

Electronic monitoring of travellers

It comes as the state government is looking at scaling back its trouble-plagued hotel quarantine program and using electronic monitoring devices for some returned travellers.

The premier said it was one of several options being explored by the Justice Department.

"I simply said that's worth having a look at, let's have a look at that," Mr Andrews said.

"If we can get people safely into their own home but have a high degree of confidence that they're not spreading the virus - and we can actually monitor their health status at the same time - that seems to me a fairly common sense thing to do."

Mr Andrews conceded he had "no idea" how much it would cost or whether it could be done.

Prominent lawyer and human rights advocate Julian Burnside, the president of Liberty Victoria, said he backed electronic monitoring as an alternative.

"I don't like the idea of electronic monitoring, but if it's an infringement of individual liberties for the purpose of making the country safer, which is the case, then I think it's justifiable," he told ABC radio.

Liberal Democrats MP David Limbrick said forcing people to wear such devices was "draconian".

"A better way to manage this would be to get people in quarantine to sign a contract and reward them for complying," he said.

Meanwhile, almost 250 people will undergo testing for Hepatitis B and C and HIV, after it was revealed blood glucose-testing kits not designed to be shared were used on multiple returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the needles involved in the tests were not re-used and there was a "very, very low risk of cross-contamination".

"Out of an abundance of caution, Safer Care Victoria and the Alfred are doing precisely the right thing in a very risk-averse way of seeking to contact all of the people involved," he said.

Mr Foley said the issue was first identified in late August.

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 sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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


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Published 20 October 2020 at 10:21am, updated 20 October 2020 at 1:07pm
Source: AAP - SBS