Victoria’s coronavirus numbers have skyrocketed to a record high overnight with 532 cases and another six deaths reported on Monday.
The previous highest day Australia-wide was 503 cases five days ago on July 22.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed five of the six deaths were connected to aged-care facilities, as well as another man aged in his 50s.
The others were two men aged in their 70s and 80s, and three women aged in their 70s, 80s and 90s.
On Sunday, Victoria had Australia’s highest single daily death toll of the pandemic on Sunday with 10 deaths and 459 new cases.
Victoria has 77 of the country’s 162 COVID-related deaths. There are also 245 Victorians in hospital, including 44 in intensive care.
The state’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said Victoria was at a “very challenging stage” with this wave.
There are 84 cases linked to St Basil’s Home for The Aged in Fawkner, 82 in Estia Healthcare, 77 in Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping, 62 in Menarock Aged Care in Essendon, 53 in Glenndale Aged Care in Werribee, 57 in Kirkbrae Presbyterian homes in Kilsyth and 50 in Estia Aged Care in Heidelberg.
“It’s hard to read these out without considering the residents in these facilities will be people’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents and they are at significant risk of dying.
“That’s an inescapable fact in these settings … they represent a tragedy for the families involved.
“The numbers are disturbing.”
Premier Daniel Andrews implored Victorians who were experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus not to go to work or there would be more deaths.
“Otherwise, these restrictions will be in place for longer than they should be, and I’m sorry to say, we will see more people die, particularly in aged care,” he said.
“If people are going to work sick, people will become infected. And therefore, people will die.”
Virus ‘deeply embedded’
Meanwhile, deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth described the virus as “deeply embedded” in Victoria, saying it would take a while to bring under control.
He said it was hoped case numbers would have fallen by now, almost halfway through the six-week lockdown in Melbourne and the neighbouring Mitchell Shire.
“We know that Victorians in those lockdown zones are mixing far less, the movement data shows us we’re about where we were in that first wave when the curve started to flatten.
“The other bit of silver lining is that those numbers, whilst deeply concerning, are bouncing between about 350 and 450 a day and certainly we’re not seeing doubling during the week, which has to be a good thing.”
Dr Coatsworth told the ABC that extending the six-week lockdown in greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire remained an option.
“Premier Andrews has been very clear in the past few days that is, that those options are on the table, but let’s examine what we can do to make this happen as quick as possible,” he said.
“All Victorians in those areas can support the process by wearing masks, by only going out for those requirements that allow them to go out to work, for healthcare. If we are all in this together then the light at the end of the tunnel arrives quicker.
“That is absolutely certain.”
Aged-care crisis continues
The federal government has set up a call centre to help families of hundreds of Victorian aged-care residents affected by the outbreaks to check on their loved ones.
There are 560 active cases linked to residents and staff of at least 40 Victorian aged-care facilities, including 82 infections at Estia Health in Ardeer and 78 at St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner.
The federal government held an online information session with families of St Basil’s residents on Sunday night, after they gathered at the facility earlier in the day.
Nicholas Barboussas said the home had told him his father was there, and doing well – after Mr Barboussas had already been told by Northern Hospital his father was fighting for his life.
Mr Barboussas told Today the family managed to speak to the sick grandfather before he died on Sunday.
“We saw a smile on dad’s face when he saw us and especially his grandkids. And it was comforting for us to see him, albeit in a pretty bad way,” he said.
Other families said they did not know if their relatives had been taken to hospital with COVID-19 or what their condition was.
“We understand the emotional impact the situation is having on residents, staff and families,” Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said.