Victoria is at a “tipping point” the state’s chief health officer has said, with a new and worrying increase in coronavirus cases.
Nineteen new positive tests were recorded in the past 24 hours. Health Minister Jenny Mikakos announced today that the state’s infectious total has reached 1836 cases, of which 121 remain active.
The 19 new cases follow rises of 25, 13, 18 and 21 cases over the previous four days.
The rise in coronavirus cases has led the government to extend the state of emergency for four more weeks until July 19. A raft of eased restrictions that were due to come into place on Monday have been axed. Police have been instructed to fine those caught breaking the rules.
“It is still a very serious situation,” Ms Mikakos said.
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“We have had particularly some concerns around family gatherings, extended family members across many households, visiting each other even when they have been exhibiting mild symptoms and very concerningly even going to work when they had mild symptoms.
“The persistent rise of COVID-19 cases in Victoria means people must once again cancel social plans and struggling businesses must wait.”
The state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there was “fatigue” around lockdown.
“This is a tipping point and we need to bear that in mind. Victoria could get to a point where we don’t have to worry about this. If we can drive transmission down to a point where we can get back to a substantially normal existence. We have to held the reins, this month especially this month and next month, and see where we are at from there.”
‘WE WILL FINE PEOPLE’
Victoria Police have been instructed to fine people as they enforce new restrictions that commence from 11.59 tonight.
Today, Police Minister Lisa Neville said police will focus on hotspot areas for transmission including caravan parks and ski resorts.
“We will fine people if they are breaching the orders,” she said.
The virus spike came after it was revealed students at four Victorian schools will be forced to attend classes remotely on Monday after being exposed to coronavirus.
Two teachers and one student were revealed to be infected at three separate schools on Saturday, the state’s Mr Sutton said, while a student at a fourth school was added to the list overnight.
The infected teachers work at Albanvale Primary School in Melbourne’s western suburbs and Springside Primary School in Caroline Springs.
A student at Camberwell Grammar in the eastern suburbs also tested positive, with parents being told to keep their children at home until further notice.
St Mary’s Primary School in Hampton is also affected. The school said it would be closed from Monday until Wednesday for deep cleaning.
NEW RESTRICTIONS FROM 11.59PM TONIGHT
From 11.59pm tonight to July 12, Victorians will only be able to have five people at their homes.
Outdoor gatherings will be restricted to 10. Cafes, restaurants and pubs had been set to be allowed 50 patrons at one time on Monday, up from 20 currently. That will also be put on hold until July 12.
However, gyms, cinemas, indoor sports centres and concert venues will still be allowed to reopen — but with a 20-person limit.
Western Australia’s government has maintained its hard line border closure will remain for as long as there is sustained community spread of the virus in the eastern states.
Premier Mark McGowan has refused to put a date on welcoming interstate visitors and is likely to further ease restrictions within WA before opening the border.
South Australia is due to reopen on July 20 but its government is closely monitoring the situation in Victoria and has not ruled out staying closed.
“We will not open our borders to Victoria unless it is safe to do so,” Health Minister Stephen Wade said on Saturday.
“Our number one priority is the health of South Australians.”
— with AAP