News State Victoria Big changes to Melbourne lockdown unlikely, says Premier
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Big changes to Melbourne lockdown unlikely, says Premier

Premier Daniel Andrews is set to appear at his 100th consecutive press conference. Photo: AAP
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Victoria has recorded 14 new cases of coronavirus and no new deaths as concerns mount the lockdown could be extended as figures remain in the double-digits.

Melbourne’s two-week virus average increased by 0.1 to 9.5, and remains well above the safe threshold.

The average in regional Victoria sits at 0.4.

The number of ‘mystery’ cases with an unknown source over the past two weeks – measured between September 24 and October 7 – has fallen to 10.

Australia’s coronavirus death toll stands at 897 and 809 people have died from the infection in Victoria.

As the number of new diagnoses plateau, and the state posts a third day without deaths, Premier Daniel Andrews appeared at his 100th consecutive press conference.

The first day of his media marathon was July 3 and the state reported 66 fresh cases.

Since then the number of daily cases has exceeded 700 at times. Three months on, cases have decreased but restrictions on daily life remain.

Mr Andrews called on people not to lose hope and become despondent or to pretend that the fight against the second wave was over.

“We’re very close, but we haven’t quite achieved that yet,” he said.

“We always want these numbers lower faster; we’ve just got to be as stubborn as this virus. We will beat this second wave, but we’ve got to do it properly.”

Despite lowering expectations, the Premier said Melburnians could be assured that some restrictions would be lifted, even if the changes would not be as significant as those hoped for.

Melbourne is due to join regional Victoria at the third stage of the plan on October 19 if it can meet the threshold of an average of fewer than five cases and less than five mystery cases in the preceding fortnight.

That was planned to remove restrictions on people leaving their homes, allow for public gatherings of up to 10 and allow hospitality and retail stores to increase trading.

However, growing outbreaks linked to Chadstone Shopping Centre, a cafe in Kilmore and Box Hill hospital have emerged.

Mr Andrews said six of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks, while the remaining eight are being investigated.

He encouraged Victorians to get tested if they were even exhibiting mild symptoms.

“I know it is nice weather today – I think tomorrow is similar. Please don’t put off getting a test until Monday,” he said.

“You will get your result tomorrow and if you are positive, we can protect you, your family and everything a family by putting the public health response around you and your loved ones.”

While acknowledging the frustration of Victorians wanting to see restrictions ease sooner, Mr Andrews asked for patience.

“I think it unlikely that we will be able to move as fast as we would like to have done next Sunday,” he said.

“All of us want to be connected to family and friends, all of us want to get back to work, businesses, not just for profits but for the people, they want to be open.

“For their customers, for their staff … so while I think it is unlikely we can take as big a step last Sunday – next Sunday as we would hope, there will be steps taken.

“It is in no way warranted for people to be despondent or for people to lose any sense of hope, this strategy is working, but you have got to do it properly.”

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton announced wastewater testing would be expanded, particularly in regional Victoria.

“This wastewater testing is part of the other armoury at the public health units bring to reassuring Victorians that the safe, careful reopening of Victoria as we deal with the tail end of this second wave can make sure that we have all got confidence to reopen,” he said.

Dr Sutton addressed the current outbreak in Chadstone, saying the focus was on “haul[ing] that cluster back and giving the communities of the South and the area of Chadstone that it will remain a safe place to visit.”

“We have now seen some 2634 tests associated with sites there.

“That equates to, of those numbers, some 70% of the staff of the Chadstone various retail and other outlets, being tested.”

The Butcher Club cluster at Chadstone numbers 32 cases, up one from Thursday, and has led to five cases nearly 100km away at Oddfellows cafe in Kilmore, after an infected person linked to the Chadstone outbreak dined there.

One Chadstone case who lives in Frankston has led to a cluster of 12 in that suburb, who are mostly family members.

An outbreak at Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne’s east has grown to four cases. Dr Sutton said staff are being tested but could not say how the outbreak started.

Health authorities on Saturday reminded Victorians of new face mask requirements which come into effect on Monday.

All Victorians must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when leaving home. Alternatives including bandanas and scarves will not be considered sufficient and people who breach regulations are subject to police fines.

“As restrictions ease (and) movement increases, the effectiveness of a face mask is even more important,” the health department said.

-with AAP