Victoria confirmed three more COVID cases on Thursday, as people in regional areas wait to learn if their lockdown will end on time at midnight.
Stay-at-home orders will continue to apply for millions of Melburnians for at least another week.
But if the regions have remained coronavirus-free on Thursday, “circuit breaker” restrictions will ease for them.
The latest update includes the 89-year-old aged-care resident confirmed as the second case at Arcare Maidstone, in Melbourne’s west, on Wednesday afternoon. That means only two new cases across the state on Thursday.
Arcare chief executive Colin Singh said the man was a cousin of the first COVID-infected resident and lived in an adjacent room.
The cluster that has shut down the city has grown to 63 infections.
In NSW, where there have been concerns after a Victorian family later diagnosed with the virus visited the south coast last week, there were no community infections to report on Thursday.
Victorian authorities will give more details at a briefing later on Thursday.
Regional Victorians are looking forward to the removal of restrictions, including just five reasons to leave home, retail businesses reopening, and hospitality venues operating as seated service only.
COVID-19 has been detected in wastewater at Bendigo and Axedale, and there are exposure sites at Anglesea, Axedale, Glenrowan, Kalkallo, Wallan and Rye.
- See an up-to-date list of Victorian exposure sites here
- NSW exposure sites and testing information is here
The Victorian government has used evidence of the Indian variant being quicker and more contagious to justify Melbourne remaining in lockdown until 11.59pm on June 10.
“If we let this thing run its course, it will explode,” Acting Premier James Merlino said on Wednesday.
“We’ve got to run this to ground because if we don’t, people will die.”
Chief health officer Brett Sutton said about 10 per cent of current cases caught the virus through “fleeting exchanges” with infected people.
There has been plenty of debate about the state government’s comments on the nature of this outbreak, with some health experts doubting the virus strain is unusually contagious.
Professor Sutton has “great confidence” restrictions will be eased at the end of the week. However, travel will still be restricted from Melbourne to regional areas over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
There are now 370 exposure sites listed on the health department’s website, with several suburban bus routes from May 25-28 added on Wednesday night.
Premier Daniel Andrews, who is recovering from a broken vertebra and fractured ribs, tweeted on Wednesday for Victorians to “keep fighting”, saying the efforts they are making to endure the current lockdown will save lives.
“Record tests, record vaccinations, record fight – we’re doing this to protect our communities, our state and the entire country.”
Meanwhile, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg again said on Thursday that he would consider Victoria’s request for worker support from Canberra as the lockdown continued.