'A difficult week': Victoria could be in for further restrictions

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews at Friday's daily briefing. Picture: Getty Images
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews at Friday's daily briefing. Picture: Getty Images

Australia has recorded its second highest day of new coronavirus infections, as Victoria considers stricter lockdown measures to reduce its spread.

Victoria cracked more than 10,000 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with another 627 cases of the virus recorded and eight more deaths.

The state has now passed the halfway point of its six-week lockdown, with nearly 6000 active coronavirus cases and no slowdown in infections yet.

Across the nation, 651 new cases of the virus were reported, including 21 in NSW - 16 of which were locally acquired. One new overseas acquired case was reported in Western Australia, another case linked to interstate travel was recorded in South Australia while one case is under investigation in Queensland.

The last 30 residents at St Basil's Home in Melbourne were transferred to hospital, after six staff members tested positive for the virus and the rest were forced into mandatory isolation.

Australia's deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said it had been a difficult week, especially with the number of cases in aged care continuing to rise.

"The level of new diagnoses remains concerning. Eight days ago, we had over 500 cases reported for the first time and the trend continues to be upwards," Professor Kidd said.

"There will be more difficult weeks to come as we continue to live with COVID-19. My advice to you is that things will get better but it won't happen overnight.

"Australia is not like many other countries where COVID-19 is out of control. We are working together. We are taking strong measures to tackle each and every outbreak of COVID-19."

However Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews foreshadowed the rate of daily rate of infections could prompt further restrictions in the state.

Mr Andrews said despite the restrictions on movement and the statewide mask mandate, the number of cases was still too high.

"We cannot open with these numbers," Mr Andrews said.

"We could not open with significantly less than these numbers."

Mr Andrews spoke with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday night about next steps for the state.

A panel of federal and Victorian health advisers will examine the number of cases over the next two days to identify trends and to work out next steps.

Mr Andrews said the restrictions in place "may not be enough to pull this up".

"It may well be that we need to take further steps," he said.

"Today's not the day for announcements."

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said the state was now exploring stage four restrictions, similar to those imposed in New Zealand.

"It may be the case an intervention in a certain area may make a difference," Professor Sutton said.

However Mr Andrews said they would not rush the process, given what was at stake.

"There are a whole range of potential next steps that will come at a very significant cost and I mean that in all of its senses. A well considered process is always better than one that isn't," Mr Andrews said.

He also acknowledged some workplaces where there have been major outbreaks, such as aged care homes, would likely remain open under any tougher lockdowns.

Mr Andrews said it was particularly alarming that one in four people doorknocked yesterday who were supposed to be in quarantine were not home.

More than 100 people have now been referred to Victoria Police.

"It's simply unacceptable to have the virus and not be at home," Mr Andrews said.

Any extension of Victoria's lockdown would have a major impact on Australia's economic recovery from the virus more broadly.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Australia was experiencing a two-stage recovery.

"We're seeing recovery and opening up the easing restrictions in other states and obviously in Victoria, we're in the midst of a six week lockdown," Mr Frydenberg said.

"Victoria is a quarter of the national economy, so the impact is significant economically and the impact is even broader within the borders of Victoria, it's impacting on business and consumer confidence.

"But what we do know from the most recent job numbers is outside of Victoria, people are starting to get back to work. 210,000 jobs were created, people come back to their jobs, that was more than double what the market was expecting, 60 per cent of those, 210,000 jobs went to women went 50 per cent went to young people, it was a positive sign the economy is moving in the right direction."

This story 'A difficult week': Victoria could be in for further restrictions first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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