Victoria has recorded its highest overnight death toll from Covid-19, with 21 deaths and 410 new cases announced on Wednesday as the premier Daniel Andrews expressed concern about continued aged care cases and deaths, and a rise of cases in disability services, among health workers, and in regional areas.
Those who died ranged in age from their 70s to 100s, and of the deaths 16 were linked to aged care facilities. There are 662 Victorians in hospital and 43 of those are receiving intensive care, while 25 are on a ventilator. Meanwhile 476 aged care residents have been transferred from aged care to hospital as the state struggles to contain spread in the facilities.
There are 1,929 active cases linked to aged care. Andrews said this included six cases linked to the public aged care centre and 1,923 linked to private aged care.
“Whilst we’ve seen some stability come to some centres, some facilities that were in crisis, everybody is working together, everybody is very much focused on trying to stay ahead of this in these settings and not have a situation where we see a repeat of some of the really difficult, really difficult, and tragic scenes.”
Meanwhile, homes for national disability insurance scheme clients, which are residential disability accommodation services, have 56 active cases. “Any cases amongst vulnerable groups are a concern,” he said.
Andrews urged people in regional Victoria to remain on high alert. “We have seen some increases of concern to us in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo,” he said. “They’re very low numbers, but coming off such a low base, any additional cases are of concern to us. So I suppose the point I would simply make to people right across regional Victoria, you’ve done a great job in following these rules right throughout the pandemic but it’s really important that each and every regional Victorian stays the course with this. I know it’s tough, I know it’s challenging.”
There are now there are 1,079 healthcare workers with active cases of the virus. “Our early analysis, by our expert team, is showing that the majority of healthcare workers are acquiring coronavirus outside of the workplace,” Andrews said. “I’m not making any judgements about that. That is what the data is telling us.” Health workers have been asking for an exact breakdown of workplace versus community infections as they try to understand how they and their colleagues are getting the virus and how to contain it.
“I hope to be able to provide you quite soon with the detailed breakdown across the following types of settings – aged and residential care, schools, hospital and healthcare, student accommodation, backpackers, social settings, for instance, child care, disability settings, food premises, correctional facilities, laboratories, [and] other primary family home domestic settings,” Andrews said.
At the parliamentary inquiry into the Victorian government’s response to the crisis on Wednesday, the secretary of the Victorian department of treasury and finance, David Martine, outlined what might be to come for the state in terms of lockdowns.
“We’re not actually forecasting a bounce back in September quarter … Obviously they need to make some assumptions about what happens after the announced stage four,” Martine said. “So in terms of the modelling, we’re assuming for the remainder of the quarter that we move in from stage four into stage three. So that takes us to the end of September.”
It means Victoria’s stay-at-home orders – a cornerstone of stages three and four – could extend beyond the six-week lockdown, which is due to end 13 September.
At his press conference, Andrews said: “I would love to be able to confirm for you what we’re going to be facing in October.” “We can’t know that,” he said. “The real data is the key here. Off that modelling, off international experience, from logic and from science, the science of this virus, our experts remain convinced that this strategy will work, but I would just say – that’s a theoretical issue.”
Jobs minister Martin Pakula also revealed at the hearing that over 21,000 international students, who aren’t eligible for any federal government payment, had received $1,100 support payments from the Victorian government, while 1,593 people had received $1,500 payments after testing positive for coronavirus while not having access to sick leave.
That is up from 1,099 last week.