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Victoria coronavirus cases rise by 397 with three deaths, community transmission a 'growing concern'

ABC News logo ABC News 1/08/2020
a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Victorian health authorities are analysing recent coronavirus data as they consider further restrictions. (ABC News: Simon Winter) © Provided by ABC Health Victorian health authorities are analysing recent coronavirus data as they consider further restrictions. (ABC News: Simon Winter)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says there is "growing concern" over community transmission of coronavirus, as the state records 397 more cases and three deaths.

Mr Andrews said the three deaths were a man in his 80s, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 90s.

He said while 397 new cases was a reduction on the state's highest-ever daily tallies of 723 and 627, recorded in the past two days, the increase was still "very significant".

"While there is always a temptation to try and read trends into these numbers, there is a growing concern in relation to the number of community transmission cases within that data," he said.

He said in recent days, 49 cases had been recorded as "mystery cases" or community transmission, where health authorities could not track the "index case" where the chain of infection began.

"Forty-nine doesn't necessarily seem such a large number but 49 mysteries when it could be much more than that because you can't find who that original case was, that is a significant concern to us," Mr Andrews said.

He said of the 10,931 cases recorded since the pandemic began, at least 1,841 were cases where infection could not be traced back to the original source.

Victorian hospitals are treating 379 COVID-19 patients, 24 of whom are in ICU on ventilators.

Two of the three deaths recorded overnight are linked to the state's aged care outbreaks, which account for 1,008 active cases.

He said Victorian hospital nurses had covered 570 shifts across the state's aged care homes since they were brought in to help with infection control and resident care.

The Premier also acknowledged that communication between families and residents in aged care homes battling outbreaks had been "by no means good enough", but said it was improving.

'Very detailed work' being done on further restrictions

Mr Andrews said today was "not the day" to announce any further restrictions, but the Government was "thinking through all those issues", including the significant cost of tougher measures.

He said what Victoria had done so far had prevented the state from dealing with thousands and thousands of new cases but "what we may be doing now may not be enough".

"We've got numbers that are too high, we've got every reason to believe that these current settings will not get the job done, that we'll need to do more," he said.

"We can't open up again at these sorts of levels and therefore there's very detailed work being done about what possible next steps might look like."

Instead, he repeated a plea for all people to follow coronavirus restrictions.

"You need to think for a moment. Nurses and doctors and ambulance paramedics and others in our health team, they're stepping up and playing their part," he said.

"It's up to you to step up and play yours."

[EXTERNAL LINK: Community transmission]

Aged care home outbreaks grow in number

In an afternoon update, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said there had been a number of coronavirus cases in six more aged care homes across Melbourne.

They are Uniting AgeWell in Kingsville, Twin Parks Aged Care Centre in Reservoir, Highwood Court Aged Care in Burwood, St Vincent's Aged Care in Eltham, Little Sisters of the Poor St Jospeh's Home in Northcote and Doutta Galla Yarraville Village.

The 10 biggest aged care outbreaks are the following:

  • St Basil's Home for the Aged in Fawkner: 134 cases
  • Epping Gardens Aged Care: 118 cases
  • Estia's aged care home at Ardeer: 105 cases
  • Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth: 94 cases
  • Estia's aged care home in Heidelberg: 86 cases
  • Menarock Life's aged care home in Essendon: 63 cases
  • Glendale Aged Care in Werribee: 60 cases
  • Outlook Gardens aged care home in Dandenong North: 56 cases
  • Aurrum Aged Care in Plenty: 54 cases
  • BaptCare Wyndham Lodge in Werribee: 53 cases

Other key outbreaks include 184 cases linked to Al-Taqwa College, 134 cases linked to Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown and 84 cases linked to JBS in Brooklyn.

Victoria's Muslim communities are celebrating a distanced three-day Eid al-Adha festival, which began on Friday, amid the pandemic.

Usually a time for families to come together, Melbourne's Islamic community is encouraging one another to demonstrate the meaning of sacrifice tied to the festival by forgoing time with family.

Melburnians driving into regional Victoria to buy hamburgers, get 'fresh air'

Police Minister Lisa Neville said police were still encountering some people "blatantly" breaching health directives.

Ms Neville said recent examples included someone driving from Melbourne to Wodonga "to have a Big Mac", another person driving from Melbourne to Ballarat for "fresh air" and someone travelling across Melbourne from Werribee to Springvale for groceries.

"Those people all received a fine yesterday," she said.

"[That is] behaviour that is appalling and unacceptable and does need to stop. We all have a role to play in this."

Around 3,500 coronavirus cases are still under investigation by health authorities, which Opposition health spokesperson Georgie Crozier said highlighted a "shambolic" contact-tracing program.

"The reality is the contact tracing hasn't been done and the teams haven't been there. Victoria hasn't been prepared," she said, adding that she believed the public had lost confidence in the Government's ability to manage the crisis.

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