A grim Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced his state has recorded a further 459 COVID-19 infections.
There were another 10 deaths on Saturday, taking the state’s death toll to 71, with 228 people currently in Victorian hospitals.
Of those patients, 42 are in intensive care.
Despite stringent lockdown conditions and obligatory masks for all Victorians who venture outside their homes, Saturday’s death toll was the largest at any time anywhere in Australia.
Of the latest fatalities, the youngest was a man in his forties. It is not know if his COVID-19 infection was complicated by any existing medical condition.
The surge raises the prospect that the stage three lockdown imposed three weeks ago could be extended.
Quizzed about that possibility, Mr Andrews gave a guarded response, saying it would depend on the pandemic’s progress.
“We’ve been clear that it would get worse before it got better, but stability had to be achieved before we would start to see numbers fall,” Mr Andrews said.
“I can’t tell you where we will be in another 3.5 weeks, but what I can confirm for you, for every single Victorian, is that the data will drive the decisions.”
What’s the story with masks with valves? Well, they shouldn’t be used for COVID protection. It allows the wearer to breathe out more easily and stops moisture build-up, but the problem is that it allows you to breathe out virus if you’re infected.
— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) July 25, 2020
For residents of aged-care facilities and their loved ones, the latest numbers are even more worrying, with Mr Andrews announcing a deluge of fresh cases
“There are some 560 active cases in aged care … and we have some 381 active cases among health-care workers,” Mr Andrews said.
“That is a significant challenge.
“Whenever we have clinical staff and other critical health workers away, furloughed because they are a close contact or, in fact, as an active case, that does put some additional pressure on our system.”
The further spread of the disease into aged-care centres was revealed as part of the 42,573 tests conducted in the state Saturday.
“We have been running close to 30,000 a day for quite some time now,” Mr Andrews said before addressing delayed notification of results which, in some cases, have been as long as a week.
“We get some support from private laboratories, get some support from interstate labs also. Everyone is doing their best and the average time is around two days.
“This doesn’t mean that every single sample will be back within those two days, some will take a little bit longer.
“You’ve got to get tested as quickly as you possibly can, then stay at home, don’t go to work, don’t go shopping.
“We will support you in any way we can and we will get your result back as fast as we can.
But we just can’t have people going to work, for whatever reason, while they’ve got a runny nose, scratchy throat, headache, fever, all of the warning signs that you’ve got this virus.”