Victoria’s coronavirus infections have spiked after three days in the low 200s.
State health authorities confirmed 240 more cases on Thursday.
Sadly, Victoria’s virus death toll shows no sign of easing, with 13 more fatalities also confirmed.
The pandemic has now claimed 376 Victorian lives – including more than 100 deaths in the past week.
Those whose deaths were confirmed on Thursday were two men and 11 women aged from their 70s to their 90s.
Despite the slight spike, Victoria’s virus infections have remained below 300 for five days, in a hopeful sign that its COVID outbreak is easing. Thursday is the day that Melbourne was meant to emerge from Stage 3 restrictions imposed in the early days of its second wave.
Victoria virus figures (August 16-20)
- August 16 279
- August 17 282
- August 18 222
- August 19 216
- August 20 240
On Wednesday, Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said he was hoping for a day without a single new outbreak as the state’s encouraging downward trend built.
Mr Sutton said only four new outbreaks had been detected in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning, fuelling hopes that the worst is over for Australia’s worst-hit state.
“That is the smallest number [of outbreaks] we’ve seen in for many, many weeks,” he said.
“Tending in the right direction, but I would like to see a day of zero new outbreaks and very little community transmission.”
Professor Sutton was also pleased with the stabilisation of active cases in aged-care facilities (2050 on Wednesday) as well as intensive care (45) and ventilator (29) numbers.
There were 12 deaths of Wednesday, all linked to outbreaks at aged-care homes. Eight of Thursday’s fatalities were also from aged care.
The aged-care royal commission castigated the federal government last week for not having a plan to protect the elderly in nursing homes.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison again deflected responsibility for the crisis to the state government, but Mr Andrews would not be drawn on his comments.
Melbourne is in the third week of a strict Stage 4 lockdown, while the rest of Victoria is under Stage 3 restrictions. Both are due to end on September 13.
The health department has also removed a little-known Stage 4 rule that made it illegal for people to drive to parks to exercise, even if they were within the legal five-kilometre limit of their home.
Meanwhile, local council elections in Victoria will proceed on October 24 as planned after Professor Sutton concluded the timing would represent a “substantially lower” COVID-19 risk than at present.