Victoria has recorded 148 new cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths as the pressure to ease Premier Daniel Andrews’ draconian stage four lockdown continues to increase.
The daily death toll figure is the lowest since August 15, when there were just four fatalities.
Tuesday’s announcement by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services takes the number of deaths from the virus in the state to 423.
All but one of the eight new deaths are linked to aged care outbreaks.
They included two men aged in their 70s, four women and one man in their 80s along with a woman female in their 90s.
Of the new 148 cases, 33 are from an unknown source.
Of the 617 Victorians being treated in hospital, 35 are in intensive care, including 19 on a ventilator.
There are currently 3,651 active cases across Victoria, including 475 healthcare workers and 215 in regional Victoria.
Mr Andrews announced on Monday that Victoria’s State of Emergency would be in place for 18 months and lockdown restrictions would be extended beyond September, despite the state recording its lowest rise in COVID-19 infections in seven weeks.
The Premier has since said the proposed State of Emergency Bill he hopes to pass in parliament next week is an ‘insurance policy’ which he hopes he doesn’t have to draw on.
‘We hope that we don’t have to make a claim against it,’ Mr Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.
‘These restrictions will be in place for not one day longer than they need to be. And the extension just brings us into line – in fact, still has us, I think, in a preferred position to many other states.’
He added Victoria’s state of emergency will not be extended for more than four weeks at a time.
Enraged former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett on Monday accused Mr Andrews of seizing ‘dictatorial powers’ after the decision extend Victoria’s state of emergency into next year.
Mr Kennett, who was Liberal premier between 1992 and 1999 and is widely credited for transforming the state’s economy, issued a blistering attack on the Labor incumbent and accused him of ‘destroying’ Victoria.
‘The premier said today he may keep the state of emergency until we have a vaccine – we may never have a vaccine,’ Mr Kennett told Sky News.
‘Are we all going to be locked up at the whim of the premier? Without any checks and balances?
‘This is an act of a megalomaniac.’