Victoria has confirmed almost 20 new cases of the coronavirus as two Melbourne schools in identified hotspots have been closed for deep cleaning.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday morning another 17 people tested positive to COVID-19 overnight, taking Victoria’s cases to 1864.
It will be the seventh day in a row that Victoria has recorded a double-digit increase, with 16 people testing positive on Monday.
Mr Andrews said one person in hotel quarantine tested positive, two from an existing outbreak, three from routine tests and 11 were “still under investigation”.
“The amount of community transmission that we’ve got is too high. We’ve got a really good handle on where it’s coming from, and it is, principally, families, larger families often, making decisions that are not in accordance with the rules and are not the right thing to do.
“This is still with us. This is not over. All Victorians want this to be over.
“But we simply can’t pretend that the virus is gone. That the virus is somehow not in our state. It is here. It travels so fast. It is so infectious,” he said.
He said almost 50 per cent of cases could be tracked back to families coming together during the weeks since the state’s hard lockdown ended and restrictions eased.
He said there had been “issues” with some people choosing not to go into quarantine after being advised to do so: “Across the board we have had a number of people who have been given instructions to quarantine and they have chosen not to do that”.
“I can’t change that. That’s happened. What I can do is ask all Victorians to follow what are pretty simple and basic rules. If you’re sick, don’t go out other than to get tested. If you are asked to quarantine, then
you must quarantine,” he said.
Meanwhile, two schools in Melbourne – East Brunswick Primary School in the inner-north (Moreland) and Keilor Views Primary School in the north-west (Brimbank) – are closed for three days for cleaning after a confirmed case of coronavirus in a student at each school.
The closure of Keilor Views comes after the adjacent Keilor Downs College was again forced to shut on Monday. It was due to an infected student attending for two days.
Stay-at-home restrictions considered
The closures come as Victorian authorities weigh up reimposing stay-at-home directions for coronavirus hotspots across Melbourne’s north and south-east.
The local government areas of Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin have been officially identified as the coronavirus hotspots.
On Monday night, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the government was not “ruling anything out”.
“If the numbers keep tracking in this way in these particular hotspot areas, we’ll have to consider options like going back to the stay-at-home direction that we had in place for a number of weeks earlier in the year,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
She said the idea of “very localised” hard lockdowns, which might be applied to local government areas or even individual suburbs, was under “active consideration” due to the pockets of accelerated coronavirus transmission.
Mr Andrews said “hundreds and hundreds” of expanded public health teams would doorknocking in hotspot suburbs in coming days, providing public health advice.
He warned that if people did not adhere to the stay-at-home rules and restrict indoor gatherings to five people, there would be a “second wave” of the coronavirus and there would be no “pulling it back”.
Victoria’s worsening crisis sees more testing sites emerge
COVID-19 testing sites have also extended operating hours at Chadstone, Highpoint, Northland, Pacific Epping and Pacific Werribee shopping centres (all in Melbourne) following reports of long queues.
Mr Andrews said the state would open more drive-through testing sites if required.
“I’m very proud to think that Victorians are coming forward and getting tested even though they know it is going to take some time, I apologise for any delays,” he said.
“To a certain extent, it will be inevitable that there will be some waiting.”
Despite the spike in the new cases, he defended the state government’s handling of the virus.
“This is not a zero cases every day strategy,” Mr Andrews said.
“That is not what we are aiming for at this point.
“There is an acceptable level of new cases. We’re not at that point now. The amount of community transmission that we’ve got is too high.”
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on Sunday urged residents in hotspots not to leave their suburbs until community transmission issues were resolved.
VICTORIA’S SPIKE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES:
Today: 17 new cases
Source: Department of Health and Human Services