Victoria has shattered another record in the deadly pandemic, with fresh infections soaring to 723 on Thursday – and 13 more fatalities.
It tops by nearly 200 Victoria’s previous worst day in the COVID outbreak, with 532 cases last Monday, and follows a relatively low 295 on Wednesday.
Victoria’s virus toll has risen to 105 with the deaths of three men and three women in their 70s, three men and two women in their 80s, and two men in their 90s confirmed on Thursday.
The horror new high and the growing death toll, along with rising infection numbers in regional Victoria, has prompted Premier Daniel Andrews to extend some virus restrictions beyond Melbourney.
Masks will become mandatory for everyone in regional Victoria from midnight on Sunday (August 2) while visitors will be banned in homes in six local government areas in Victoria’s south-west from midnight Thursday (July 30). The areas are Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Colac Otway, and Queenscliffe.
Hospitality venues in those areas will remain open.
“I know that it may seem counterintuitive that you can go to the pub but you can’t go to your mate’s place, but ultimately that’s where the data drives that decision,” Mr Andrews said.
“The data drives that decision. That’s where the transmission is. It’s not in cafes and restaurants, but it is, in small numbers, in people’s homes. One family to another.”
Meanwhile, in Queensland, one of the teenagers who has sparked fears of a renewed community outbreak is refusing to tell authorities about her movements in the days since she returned home.
The woman is one of two 19-year-olds confirmed to have the deadly virus but skipping quarantine after returning to Brisbane from Melbourne with a third friend on July 21.
Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said Queensland Police would take the women to court.
“They knowingly and deliberately deceived us,” he said.
Aged care in crisis
Mr Andrews said it appeared 10 of Thursday’s fatalities were linked to the crisis in Victorian aged care. There are more than 900 cases associated with aged care – and 34 people in intensive care.
The first of five specialist Australian Medical Assistance Teams, which provide disaster relief in critical health situations, arrived in Melbourne on Thursday to try to quell the deadly outbreak surging through the city’s aged-care homes.
On Wednesday, former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy acknowledged “deficiencies” in the federally run private aged-care sector – and the likely tragic outcomes.
“There will be more deaths with the number of aged-care recipients that are infected,” he said.
“We know that, it is a certainty. We will see deaths every day – and that is a tragedy.”
As the crisis escalates, residents are being transferred from Victoria’s worst-affected aged-care homes, including St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner and Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility. Both are in Melbourne’s north.
Mr Andrews said some of the worst-affected homes – including Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth, Outlook Gardens in Dandenong North and Epping Gardens – were being run by Victorian health authorities.
The outbreaks at Kirkbrae and Outlook Gardens were stable, while Mr Andrews said Epping Gardens remained “a very challenging environment”.
St Basil’s was being managed by the federal government.
“There’s still significant work that needs to be done there, and is being done,” Mr Andrews said.