Victoria’s coronavirus death and infection numbers took a marked dip on Thursday, in a positive sign that lockdown measures are slowing the spread.
The government announced a further eight deaths and 278 new cases; the lowest number of new infections since July 20.
The deaths included a woman in her 50s, two men in their 70s, two women in their 80s, two men in their 80s and one man in his 90s – with four linked to aged care homes.
Thursday’s fatalities brought the state’s death toll to 275 and the national figure to 360.
A record 725 new daily infections were recorded on August 5.
Premier Daniel Andrews was confident Victoria’s second-wave COVID-19 curve was flattening but said that was dependent upon ‘literally hundreds of millions of individual choices and decisions’.
The Stage 4 restrictions are in there second week, and should soon start to be reflected in even sharper falls in infection numbers.
While noting Victoria’s seven-day case average was falling, Mr Andrews acknowledged Stage 4’s effects would not be known until next week.
‘We all know that a week is not the life-cycle of this virus,’ he told reporters on Wednesday.
‘This is not precise. It’s not exact because it’s all dependent upon literally hundreds of millions of individual choices and decisions that each of us make every single day.’
Victoria currently has 3,068 COVID-19 cases with no known source.
There are also 1,140 active cases in healthcare workers and 2,018 infections across 125 aged care homes. There is a total of 7,856 active cases across Victoria.
Mr Andrews also said there had been an alarming jump in cases in regional Victoria.
‘We have seen some growth in cases, they remain low in total terms but significant growth in cases in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo,’ he said.
‘That is of obvious concern to us. We are monitoring that very closely.’
There are 492 active cases in regional areas across the state and the premier said additional testing will be carried out.
Professor Catherine Bennett, Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, was prepared to say that the state was ‘past its peak now’.
‘So hopefully this pipeline, if you like, of people being exposed then becoming ill and possibly also triggering workplace outbreaks is now shifting so that we are starting to close down those existing outbreaks,’ Professor Bennett told the Today Show.
Professor Bennett also acknowledged that active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria dropped on Wednesday for the first time.
‘We should see the numbers really drop quite rapidly once these outbreaks are contained and we stop, you know, having more people coming into [contact], whether it’s working in hospital or aged care in particular.’
The Stage 4 restrictions were initially put in place for six weeks, so they will be lifted in mid-September if the succeeded in getting daily case numbers back toward double figures, with a hope of a further easing to Stage 2 – under which most businesses and personal movement will return to normal – in the summer.
‘If we see the numbers come down hard over the next couple of weeks, all being well, the restrictions will be much more mild by Christmas,’ she said.