The Victorian coronavirus crisis has worsened with three more deaths and a new record of 428 confirmed infections overnight.
Premier Daniel Andrews said a man in his 70s, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 80s had died from the virus overnight.
Of the 428 cases confirmed on Friday, 57 were connected to known outbreaks, 370 are being investigated and one is from quarantine.
There are 122 people in Victorian hospitals, with 31 in intensive care.
“This is a serious situation. We are in the fight of our lives,” Mr Andrews said.
“That ring around Melbourne and Mitchell Shire is working in terms of reducing the spread of this virus into regional Victoria.”
Regional Victoria has had 42 cases since the beginning of July.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos announced plans to help shield country Victoria, with testing centres to be set up in Wonthaggi, Bendigo, Shepparton, Mildura and Koo Wee Rup.
Public health teams will also be established in Barwon, Bendigo, Ballarat, La Trobe Valley and Shepparton.
But Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton described the state’s situation as a “daily tragedy”.
“We have not turned the corner here,” he said.
“Tragically there will be several who require intensive care support and a number of people will die.”
On Thursday, Victoria reported its then-worst day since the pandemic began with 317 cases and the deaths of two men in their 80s.
The state was dealing with 370 active COVID-19 cases on July 1 but numbers have exploded since then, fuelled by outbreaks linked to public housing towers, a school, aged-care centres and workplaces.
In NSW, there were eight new coronavirus cases overnight.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the renewed tightening of restrictions for cafes, restaurants, clubs and other indoor venues as NSW tries to contain the Crossroads Hotel coronavirus outbreak.
Bookings at these venues will be capped at 10 people per party from next Friday.
There will also be a 150-person limit at weddings and corporate events.
“No dancing, no singing, no mingling,” Ms Berejiklian said on Friday.
The number of people allowed at funerals will be capped at 100. The 20-person limit for indoor home gatherings remains in place for now.
Earlier, Queensland reported another day of zero new coronavirus cases, with only four active cases in the state as of Friday.
Victorian ‘likely’ excluded from trans-Tasman bubble
It comes as Victoria will likely be excluded from a trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison discussed the arrangements with NZ PM Jacinda Ardern last week, following a meeting of Australia’s national cabinet, where Victoria’s outbreak dominated discussions.
“She raised that very issue with me and we’re progressing those discussions,” he told 3AW radio.
“Obviously it’s got to be a little bit moderated for what’s happening in Victoria, but we discussed it at national cabinet last Friday, so we’re working with the states and territories about how they can participate in that.”
For months, both countries have plotted to ease border restrictions for travel across the ditch. The plans were dealt a blow after Victoria was overwhelmed by a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Regular travel between the two nations has been suspended during the pandemic.
Late in June, Ms Ardern said reopening borders would come down to Australia’s leaders.
“Ultimately it’s up to Australia to decide whether or not they’ll go for a whole of country approach, or a state-by-state approach,” she said.
“Obviously, where there is community outbreak, that is a no-go for New Zealand.
“Where they have border controls in place and where they’ve had no community transmissions for sustained periods of time that may be a different scenario.”