Australia’s youngest coronavirus victim, a man in his 30s, has died in Victoria as the state suffered its worst day, with 725 new cases and 15 fatalities.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the man was not a healthcare worker, though it has been reported a young trainee doctor is among those fighting for life in intensive care.
“It shouldn’t have to get to a tragedy for people to acknowledge that this is a virus that affects everyone,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.
“It can be deadly and it has been deadly here and around the world in people of all age groups and, indeed, people that are in otherwise good health.”
Wednesday’s figures bring the state’s death toll from the virus to 162 and the national figure to 247.
Of the 15 deaths, 12 are linked to outbreaks at aged care facilities.
The state’s previous record was 723 new cases on July 30, though daily case numbers have been in triple digits for a month.
There are 538 Victorians with coronavirus in hospital – an increase of 82 from Tuesday – with 42 of them in ICU.
The latest figures provided by the state government show there are six people under the age of 40 fighting for their lives in ICU, including a child under nine.
The state’s second wave of the virus prompted Mr Andrews to declare a state of disaster and impose stage four restrictions on Melbourne, including a curfew.
From Thursday, all essential workers in the city will be required to show a permit if pulled over by police to prove they are allowed to leave their homes.
Some workers, such as nurses and police officers, can use their official identification while others have to apply for the permit online.
Businesses caught issuing permits to workers who do not meet the requirements face fines of up to $99,123, while individuals can be fined up to $19,826.
Only essential workers will be allowed to send their children to child care, kindergarten or primary school and are required to complete a separate permit online.
“If you are a permitted worker, regardless of whether you are working in person or you are working from home, and you attest that there is no-one else in your household that can look after your children then you will be able, with that very simple permit, to access child care,” Mr Andrews said.
Vulnerable children will also still be allowed to access child care.
Advice on at-home care, including babysitting, would be provided later on Wednesday, the premier added.
“There will be many, many families who will not be able to access child care as they normally would and that is essential to … driving down these numbers,” Mr Andrews said.
The government also announced a winding back of non-urgent surgery in regional Victoria, which has gone into stage three lockdown, to cope with coronavirus cases.
Elective surgeries had already been cut back in Melbourne to create capacity for aged care residents.
More than 300 residents had been moved out of aged care facilities to hospitals, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.
Ms Mikakos defended her appearance at the sitting of Victoria’s upper house on Tuesday, against the advice of the state’s chief health officer.
“I was there because the numbers in the upper house forced that situation. (Opposition Leader) Michael O’Brien and the Liberal party made it very clear they would force the upper house sitting,” she said.