Victorians have passed a welcome milestone in their battle against COVID-19, with daily infections falling below 200 for the first time in nearly six weeks.
Victoria reported 179 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the lowest total since 177 on July 13.
There were also nine more fatalities, bringing the state’s overall death toll from the pandemic to 385.
They were five women and four men, aged from their 60s to more than 100.
Despite the ever-rising death toll, Friday’s case numbers were taken as a sign that Melbourne’s Stage 4 shutdown is working.
“Whilst tomorrow’s numbers will be for tomorrow, we are all pleased to see a ‘one’ in front of these additional case numbers, and to a certain extent it is perhaps at that level a little quicker than I thought it might be,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“To be at this point shows that the strategy is working.”
Victoria’s recent COVID tally
- August 15 303
- August 16 279
- August 17 282
- August 18 222
- August 19 216
- August 20 240
- August 21 179
Friday’s breakthrough figure brings Victoria’s seven-day average of coronavirus infections to 246, down from 368 for the previous seven days.
There was more good news from NSW on Friday, with only one new virus infection to report. It is linked to a previously reported case at Hornsby Hospital.
Queensland had only a historic case to confirm on Friday. So far, there are no more infections linked to the supervisor at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre who tested positive earlier in the week.
Mr Andrews said he remained “naturally conservative” about Victoria’s progress in halting its devastating second wave.
“We’ll see what tomorrow holds. But there’s no room for complacency, there’s no way we can assume that this is over. It is an ultra-marathon, and we’re not halfway yet,” he said.
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said he was also pleased to see a daily tally of fewer than 200. But he was wary of the state’s relatively rapid decline continuing in coming days.
“The challenge of the next couple of weeks is that, even as community transmission goes down, those complex outbreak settings that are really hard to get on top of transmission – in the aged care, disability sector, even in our health services – they might end up with a baseline level of transmission that is harder to shift,” he said.
“Even though we’re seeing numbers below 200 today, there might be a flattening off in the next couple of weeks if we don’t really focus all our attention on those complex settings.”
Earlier, Mr Andrews pledged to raise the impacts of COVID-19 border closures on communities at national cabinet on Friday, with Victoria still shut off from the rest of the nation.
New measures preventing border residents from crossing into South Australia, or leaving the state and then returning, came into effect for the Victoria-South Australia border on Friday.
A permit system also remains for Victoria-NSW border residents. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has called for it to be overhauled after meeting with Albury-Wodonga stakeholders.
Mr Andrews has vowed to fight for workable arrangements.
“We’re doing everything we can to try and make the fact that others have closed their borders to us as workable as possible,” he said on Thursday.
“It’s not easy by any stretch. Hopefully, we’ll have some progress.”