Victoria has reported 466 new coronavirus cases and 12 new deaths, including one man in his 30s, as Melbourne is warned of medicine and alcohol shortages amid stage four lockdown.
On Saturday Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the state’s COVID-19 death toll climbed to 193, with the national tally rising to 278.
The new fatalities include a man in his 30s, two men in their 70s, two men and three women in their 80s and four women in their 90s. Six deaths are linked to aged care.
Mr Andrews said there are now 7,808 active infections across the state and 988 of them are healthcare workers – an increase of 140 from Friday.
There are 636 coronavirus patients in hospital, with 44 in intensive care and 29 of them are fighting for their lives on ventilators.
The latest figures come after the state reported 450 infections on Friday, a dramatic decrease from its record of 750 cases on Wednesday.
Mr Andrews warned Victoria is not likely to see a steep decline in coronavirus infections for ‘a little while’ amid strict stage four lockdown.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the state was seeing a ‘stabilisation’ of cases with daily number around the 400 and 500 mark each day.
‘That is not good enough but it’s a positive that we have averted an exponential increase through the last couple of weeks,’ he said.
Professor Sutton said the introduction of stage three restrictions in early July had prevented about 20,000 cases developing.
‘But we can’t have 500 cases every single day and the associated morbidity, hospitalisation, intensive care requirements and debts associated with that number every day,’ he said.
‘Stage four restrictions will make a difference but we won’t see them for another week or more.’
The tough stay-at-home restrictions, which include an 8pm-5am curfew for metropolitan Melbourne, have been in place for almost a week.
The fresh infections come amid fears Victorians could be left without medicine, alcohol and school supplies after major businesses were closed by the state’s stage four lockdown.
Australia Post were told that it could keep open 200 outlets facing closure but the business is struggling to operate with just two thirds of its staff.
Chief executive Christine Holgate said there could be long delays as demand for deliveries soars amid Melbourne’s strict Stage 4 lockdown.
She said that demand in coronavirus-stricken suburbs was already up 200 per cent and orders from Chemist Warehouse, Dan Murphy’s and Office Works were under pressure.
Ms Holgate said Australia Post was responsible for deliveries for 200,000 online businesses and had a team of 21,000 people in Victoria.
‘All the major medical distribution centres are based in Victoria. API, Sigma – they supply pharmacies right across the country,’ Ms Holgate told the Australian Financial Review.
‘So this isn’t just about keeping Victorian businesses running and Victorians safe, we have to keep the whole country safe. We run the risk of being late getting important medicines out to those pharmacies.’
On Saturday, Mr Andrews was questioned over reports healthcare workers had complained about a shortage of personal protective equipment.
The premier said there are adequate supplies of the PPE, with 68 million gloves, 19 million surgical masks and two million face shields.
Mr Andrews could not provide further details on the death of a man in his 30s, other than his age range and gender.
The man was not a healthcare worker. The premier said authorities would speak to the man’s family to see if any further information could be revealed.
Almost 200 Victorians have been fined for breaching the state’s coronavirus restrictions, including a man caught breaking curfew to buy cigarettes and lollies.
Victoria Police did 3554 spot checks on homes, businesses and public places in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, fining 197 people for breaching the chief health officer’s directions.
Sixty-two were fined $1,652 for breaching Melbourne’s 8pm-5am curfew, while a further 36 were penalised $200 for failing to wear a face mask.
One man was slapped with both fines after he was caught at a service station just before 1am buying cigarettes and lollies. He wasn’t wearing a mask.
Another was found riding a city-bound train between Lalor and Thomastown, outside the five-kilometre radius from his home.
He told police he was out to ‘get some fresh air’.
A man was intercepted by officers in Hastings – about 130km from his Bacchus Marsh home – visiting friends.
Mr Andrews told reporters on Saturday that all fines could be ‘avoided’ as long as Victorians make better decisions.
‘Every one of these fines can be avoided. 100 per cent they can be avoided,’ he said.
‘Don’t make those selfish choices, don’t think that somehow you are entitled to do things that no one else is allowed to do. It is a very simple thing.’
New South Wales reported nine new coronavirus infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, two are international travellers in hotel quarantine, four were locally acquired and three have no known source.
There are fears NSW is preparing for a second outbreak of infections with nine cases identified over the past week not linked to known clusters.
NSW Health said in a statement: ‘While most cases in the past week have been associated with local clusters and close contacts with known cases, nine have not been linked to known cases, indicating that COVID-19 is circulating in the community.
‘It’s extremely important we all play our part in prevention all the time.’
There are at least 107 active cases in NSW and nine patients are receiving treatment in intensive care.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino announced on Friday all Victorian students studying for their VCE will be individually assessed for any adverse impacts from COVID-19 – which will then be reflected in their ATAR score.
‘This is quite an extraordinary change. So every single student will be individually assessed,’ he said.
‘We’ll look at things such as school closures, we’ll look at things such as long absences.
‘We’ll look at things, for example, such as significant increase in family responsibilities as a result of COVID-19 and we’ll of course consider the mental health and wellbeing of students during this period.’
Premier Andrews said health officials in the state were door-knocking every single confirmed COVID-19 case.
He said 1,000 of the 1,150 cases visited on Thursday were isolating within the rules, while the 150 who were not have been referred to Victoria Police.
Two men were arrested in relation to the so-called ‘freedom rally’ which is planned to take place on the steps of Parliament on Sunday.
The scheduled protest for Sunday would be in breach of the Chief Health Officer’s directions which bans gatherings of more than two people in public places.
The arrests of the men, both aged 41, came after police searched two homes in Mooroolbark and Chirnside Park on Thursday.
A 41-year-old male from Mooroolbark was charged with incitement. He was bailed and is due to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court in January next year.
A 41-year-old male from Chirnside Park was also arrested but was released with intent to summons. He is expected to be charged on Friday with the same offences.
More than 400 people have expressed interest in attending the protest but police have warned they will be dishing out $1652 fines and making arrests.
‘This selfish behaviour will absolutely not be tolerated,’ Victoria Police said.
‘Be assured Victoria Police will be responding and will take appropriate action.