Victoria has set another deadly COVID record, confirming 19 more fatalities on Monday.
The toll rose even as the number of new confirmed infections fell to 322 – the state’s lowest tally in 13 days.
The deaths, the highest yet for a single day in the pandemic, take Australia’s coronavirus toll to 313.
Victoria accounts for 228 of those. The state’s toll officially rose by 18 on Monday, after an earlier fatality was removed due to duplication.
Those who died were a man in his 50s, a woman in her 60s, two men in their 70s, a man and six women in their 80s, and a man and seven women in their 90s. Of Monday’s deaths, 14 were linked to aged-care outbreaks.
Australia’s national death toll has taken just nine days to rise from 200 to more than 300.
More than 40 Victorians remain in intensive care, and active infections in the state’s health workers have officially topped 1000.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews urged people not to read too much into Monday’s data.
“It’s always be better to be lower than the previous day, but it is only one day’s data,” he said.
Many of the strictest changes to Melbourne’s lockdown came into effect at midnight on Sunday (August 9). Even the oldest – the 8pm-5am daily curfew – has been running only for a week.
“It is still very early for us to be trying to measure the impacts of stage 4, but we’re certainly seeing perhaps some greater stability that is a result of the cumulative impact of stage 3,” Mr Andrews said.
Authorities desperately hope Melbourne’s shutdown will quell the deadly second wave of coronavirus that has swept the city.
Regional Victoria is under less stringent Stage 3 restrictions, also until at least mid-September.
Mr Andrews compared the fight against the virus to the bushfire threat Victorians faced every summer.
“We experience great adversity every summer. Every single summer.
We experience really difficult times as a community – often that’s the nature of the place where we live and the circumstances that we have to confront,” he said.
“We understand that how all of us act, how all of us behave, makes a difference … That’s when we are strongest. And just as it’s true in
summer with fires, all year round, all too often with drought, it’s true in relation to coronavirus and our collective fight against it.”
Mr Andrews said he was wanted “businesses to survive. I want people back at work. I want people healthy”.
“I want to begin that process of rebuilding our economy and community and setting us up for strength in the future,” he said.
“We simply can’t get to that point unless we all play our part in making this strategy work.”
Earlier on Monday, deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said he hoped the state’s infection numbers would soon drop.
“It’s important to wait for the trend to emerge, but we do have some confidence in the coming days to week we’ll see those numbers come down,” he told the ABC.
“What is happening in Victoria could happen anywhere and it just behoves us to all change our behaviour for the coming months while we get this situation under control.”
NSW residents urged to ‘curtail their activity’
On Monday, NSW had 14 more confirmed coronavirus infections, only one in a returned overseas traveller.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has again urged people to “curtail their activity” as the state navigates a “critical phase” of the pandemic.
She hinted the state government might be forced to bring in tighter rules if warnings were not heeded.
“We ask people to curtail their activity, it’s very difficult [to contact trace] when people have attended a number of venues in one night” she said.
“We don’t want to have to impose further restrictions on people’s ability to be free but we want people to be responsible, listen to the advice and please consider your own actions and what you’re doing given the high state of alert.”
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Earlier, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg again called out the Victorian government for its hotel quarantine failures, saying the mistakes must be explained.
The botched program is thought to have sparked Victoria’s deadly coronavirus second wave.
Mr Frydenberg, who is self-isolating in Canberra ahead of the next federal parliament sitting, said it should never have reached the point where the state had hundreds of new cases and multiple deaths a day.
“It’s very very difficult emotionally, it’s difficult obviously on the economy as well,” he told 2GB radio on Monday.
“We know with respect to quarantine, there have been very significant failures with deadly consequences. Victorians deserve answers. I’ll leave that to Daniel Andrews and his government to provide.”
Queensland declares ‘no community transmission’
Earlier, Queensland reported just one new coronavirus case on Monday – in a returned overseas traveller in hotel quarantine. Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said that meant the state had returned to no community transmission of the virus, after a cluster of five cases sparked by three teenagers who travelled to Melbourne.
She urged Queenslanders to keep coming forward for testing at the slightest sign of COVID symptoms.
“If we can get the first case – not the fourth case or the 50th case – if we can get the first case of infection and stop those chains of transmission, we’ll be able to manage it going forward,” Dr Young said.