News Coronavirus Dire day in Melbourne virus crisis, as NSW clusters cause further alarm

Dire day in Melbourne virus crisis, as NSW clusters cause further alarm

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Victoria has had another near-record day of coronavirus infections, reporting 270 confirmed cases on Tuesday.

It is the fourth day since last Thursday the state has had more than 200 new COVID cases, with only Monday falling below that.

With the combined totals – including a record thus far for the pandemic of 288 on Friday – Victoria’s coronavirus infections have soared by 1224 in just five days.

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the latest grim tally, which includes 85 patients in hospital. Of those, 26 are in intensive care – an increase of nine from Monday.

Tuesday’s figures came after Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, conceded a “small bit of optimism” when 177 were reported on Monday.

On Tuesday, he said: “I warned that we can’t be complacent about numbers on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s not as high as our biggest single day, but we haven’t turned the corner yet. I hope to see that this week, but there are no guarantees.”

Victoria has more than 1800 active COVID cases – bringing a warning that hundreds more people will soon be in hospital.

“There’s often 10 per cent to 20 per cent of all coronavirus infections who require hospitalisation, so that’s a couple of hundred individuals at least,” Professor Sutton said.

“They will require hospitalisation in the next couple of weeks.”

He urged GPs to monitor patients and refer them to extra care sooner rather than later.

“It’s important to see these patients early if they’re deteriorating. It avoids the worst outcomes – intensive care or death,” he said.

Victoria’s cases take Australia’s national virus toll to a grim milestone of more than 10,000 confirmed infections.

NSW pub cluster expands

They include 13 more in NSW on Tuesday as authorities try to quell an outbreak centred on the Crossroads Hotel at Casula, in Sydney’s south-west. There are now 28 cases linked to the hotel.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW was in “a state of high alert”.

“We are in a pandemic and you can’t have good compliance unless all of us take personal responsibility for the way in which we conduct ourselves as well,” she said.

On Monday, NSW Health confirmed 10 cases linked to the hotel. A further 11 were indirectly linked and connected to venues across NSW, including Sydney’s The Star casino.

Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant urged anyone who was at the Crossroads Hotel between July 3-10 to get tested to help authorities understand the scope of the outbreak.

One of NSW’s new cases is an employee at the Casula Kmart, who worked from 5pm-midnight on July 10.

Dr Chant said anyone who had visited the Kmart should “watch for symptoms, self-isolate and get tested”.

Hundreds of people have been tested at a pop-up clinic at the Crossroads Hotel.

Meanwhile, Queensland has declared two Sydney local government areas near the hotel – Liverpool and Campbelltown – as COVID hotspots from midday on Tuesday. Anyone who has been in those areas in the past 14 days will no longer be able to enter Queensland without completing a fortnight in quarantine.

Hundreds of people who visited the busy hotel from July 3-10 are in isolation.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles confirmed on Tuesday that 18 Queenslanders were among them.

Dr Miles said the Crossroads Hotel – which is within 10 kilometres of the busy Southern Cross Transport Terminal at Chipping Norton – was a hub for travellers and truck drivers transporting freight interstate.

“The hotel is a busy stopover for many travellers, so it is very likely that there are a number of Queenslanders who have been there during this period,” he said.

On Monday, Dr Chant confirmed authorities were looking at the possibility a truck driver might be the source of the pub outbreak.

Border restrictions to stay

South Australia will delay lifting border restrictions with NSW and the ACT amid concerns about the rise in COVID-19 cases in Sydney.

Premier Steven Marshall said the state’s transition committee had decided not to go ahead with lifting the 14-day quarantine measures on July 20.

The “super spreader” event associated with the Crossroads Hotel was a particular concern, he said.

“We know that this is going to be very inconvenient to people who have already made plans,” he said.

“But our primary responsibility is for the health, safety and welfare of all South Australians.

“We’re being cautious, we’re looking at the epidemiology of what’s going on, we’re looking at the results in NSW.

“But at this stage, there’s too much uncertainty.”

The state previously lifted the quarantine restrictions for people coming from Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

It has imposed a hard border closure with Victoria, allowing only locals to return and essential travellers through, because of Melbourne’s surge in infections.

-with AAP