Victoria’s local COVID cases have spiked to 22 as the state begins its first day of an extended lockdown.
Wednesday’s update, which came from a record of nearly 60,000 tests across the state, is a significant jump on the 13 locally acquired infections reported on Tuesday.
It is the biggest single-day spike yet in cases in the state’s latest virus crisis, and takes the outbreak that began just over a week ago to 107.
All of Wednesday’s cases are linked to existing coronavirus outbreaks. It is not yet known how many were in isolation throughout their infectious period.
Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to provide more details in an update later on Wednesday.
Victoria is beginning its sixth day of stay-at-home orders, which will remain until at least 11.59pm on July 27.
On Tuesday, Mr Andrews said the state had avoided a “NSW-style, long, lengthy, very challenging lockdown” but authorities needed more time to “extinguish” the outbreak.
“We’re dealing with an outbreak that we think we are running alongside and we just need to get in front of it in order to pull it up,” he said.
But he said easing restrictions even while new case numbers were in the single digits was not an option, due to the speed and ease of the Delta variant’s spread.
Also on Wednesday, Victoria has slammed its border shut to red zone arrivals.
From midnight, Victorian residents in NSW and the ACT are no longer allowed to come home amid a two-week pause on issuing red zone permits.
Only authorised workers and those who apply for and receive an exemption can travel between the two states, along with border residents.
“For four weeks we’ve been saying to people come home because the rules may change. Well, the rules are changing today,” Mr Andrews said on Tuesday.
The ban will extend to South Australia from midnight Wednesday, after chief health officer Brett Sutton declared it a red zone as it joined Victoria as well as Sydney and surrounds in lockdown. The Delta outbreak that has sent SA into lockdown grew to six infections on Wednesday morning.
In some good news for Victorians, health authorities say they have linked a case from Tuesday that had sparked some concern.
The ABC is reporting the infection in a woman in her 20s from Roxburgh Park, in Melbourne’s north, has been linked to a City of Hume family who tested positive after returning from NSW earlier in July.
- See a full list of Victorian exposure sites here
There are more than 340 exposure sites across Victoria, spanning from Phillip Island in the south of the state to Mildura in the north-west. There are also more than 18,000 close contacts in isolation, about a third of them in regional areas.
Meanwhile, the federal government has confirmed Victorians impacted by the extended lockdown will be able to claim disaster payments of up to $600 a week from Friday.
A beefed-up support package for lockdown-hit businesses will also be announced by the Victorian government on Wednesday.
Victoria also had one new virus case in a returned overseas traveller on Wednesday. It has 118 active infections.