Victoria’s daily COVID case numbers have fallen again, although the state has 17 more deaths to add to its already devastating pandemic toll.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services confirmed 222 more coronavirus infections on Tuesday – the lowest daily tally in since July 18.
The 17 fatalities were down from Monday’s grim record of 25, but still in line with numbers mostly in the high teens confirmed daily in the past week.
Victoria’s virus toll stands at 351 – having grown by 124 in a week. Australia’s toll is 438.
But the number of new infections is the under 300 for the third day in a row (279 on Sunday and 282 on Monday), as metropolitan Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown and regional Victoria’s Stage 3 restrictions appear to be taking effect.
There have been no 400-plus days since last Wednesday.
Premier Daniel Andrews will give more details about Tuesday’s figures later in the day.
An epidemiologist has credited sacrifices by Victoria’s hardest-hit communities for it having apparently turned the corner in the fight against the virus.
Professor Catherine Bennett, chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, said daily COVID-19 case tallies had steadily and reassuringly declined since peaking at 725 on August 5.
Commenting on the link between high case numbers in Melbourne’s low socio-economic areas, Ms Bennett pointed to Victoria’s botched hotel quarantine scheme.
“The communities hardest hit when their workers brought the virus home were also those most challenged in the face of the pandemic – over-represented in multisite casual work, unable to work from home or afford to forgo work,” she said.
“The fact that the wave is turning in Victoria is largely a credit to those hardest hit, and who have had to do the really hard yards to shut down local transmission.”
Professor Nancy Baxter, the head of Melbourne University’s School of Population and Global Health, told ABC Radio Melbourne Victorians would need to get used to long-term lockdown.
“I’m extremely optimistic. We’ve certainly seen a downward trend in cases, and our rolling average is definitely on the down-swing,” Professor Baxter said on Tuesday.
“But the second wave always takes a lot longer to come down and people have to be in for the long haul.”
She said it would take some time “for things to loosen up” and warned masks would be around until a vaccine was available.
Authorities have warned of ongoing fatalities even as new case numbers decline, amid metropolitan Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown and Stage 3 restrictions for regional areas.
A breakdown of ICU hospitalisation data released on Monday afternoon showed 31 of 49 patients were aged 60 or older.
There is also one person in their 20s, four people in their 30s, three people in their 40s and 10 people in their 50s in ICU.
There were 657 Victorians in hospital.