Premier Daniel Andrews has warned Victoria’s health system will not cope if Melbourne’s coronavirus crisis escalates in the city’s worst-hit suburbs.
Victoria recorded 403 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – the state’s third highest daily total since the pandemic began – and five deaths.
Melbourne’s north-western suburbs continue to cop the brunt of the fresh infections, with Brimbank reporting 64 additional confirmed cases and Hume hit with 27 new cases.
Among the worrying trend were 43 extra infections in Wyndham, 29 in Whittlesea, 24 in Melton, 22 in Moreland and 21 in Melbourne’s CBD.
The continued spike in cases came as Queensland extended its border closure to even more travellers from Sydney’s COVID-19 hotspots, after Victoria’s second wave jumped the border.
Mr Andrews said his state’s health system could soon be on the brink if Melburnians ignore lockdown rules and the daily number of coronavirus infections does not start to decline.
Pictured: Hotspot map of Melbourne’s coronavirus infections. Melbourne’s north-western suburbs continue to cop the brunt of the fresh infections, with Brimbank reporting a whopping 64 new cases on Thursday and Hume tallying a jump of 27 cases
Premier Daniel Andrews has warned Victoria’s health system will not cope if Melburnians continue to test positive to COVID-19
Victoria reported five additional coronavirus deaths on Thursday. Pictured: A woman in a face mask is seen in Melbourne on Thursday
Pictured: Police conduct a licence check in Brimbank. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brimbank jumped by 64 on Thursday
‘When you get swamped every day with additional cases, and every case represents the better part of four or five contacts, that’s always going to push you,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘No health system would cope if this got away from you to the point where you have got thousands of patients presenting.’
Mr Andrews said scores of Victorians are expected to die as hundreds of new coronavirus cases are reported each day.
‘What we know is if numbers continue to grow, there will be a percentage of people within that cohort who will sadly die,’ he said.
Victoria’s coronavirus death tally climbed to 49 on Thursday, taking the national toll to 133.
The latest deaths are three aged care residents – a woman in her 70s, two men in their 80s and 90s, as well as two men aged 50 and 70.
Pictured: Police and army enforce mandatory face masks while walking around the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne on Thursday
Victoria recorded 403 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – the state’s third highest daily total since the pandemic begun
Pictured: General view of Melbourne’s deserted Bourke Street Mall amid lockdown on Thursday
Pictured: Shoppers line up at Wyndham Vale. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wyndham jumped by 43 on Thursday
Mr Andrews used the death of the 50-year-old man to remind Victorians that coronavirus does not only affect the elderly.
‘This is not just a disease or virus or tragedy that will only be visited upon very, very old people,’ he said.
‘It has around the world been visited upon many people of otherwise healthy status and quite an age range.
‘I’ve made this point a number of times, I take no joy in making it but no family will be untouched by this if it gets away from us.
‘Every day there’s 400 [coronavirus cases] and we’re seeing stability but not a decline, that will mean more people… will die.’
On Thursday evening, Mr Andrews shared a video message from clinical nurse specialist Abbey to encourage Victorians to follow stage three restrictions.
Pictured: health workers are seen at the Colac drive through testing facility in Regional Victoria
Abbey said: ‘I’ve watched my colleagues adapt, fight and care for really critically unwell patients whilst putting themselves on the frontline daily.
‘I watch my colleagues sacrifice every piece of themselves in the fight against this pandemic.
‘And I watch them do it with such integrity, strength and grace that I am constantly in awe of all I have witnessed them achieve.’
Nurse Abbey said there was a ‘simple’ reason she was relaying this information.
‘If we, the frontline healthcare workers are doing all we’re doing to keep you safe and alive, the very least you as a community can do for us is stay home, wear a mask, wash your hands and follow the advice and restrictions of the government,’ she said.
‘Your temporary but greatly appreciated sacrifice means both you and my colleagues and I will eventually see the light at the end of this very long road and we collectively may see the end of this pandemic.’
Pictured: A commuter walks out of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station on Thursday
Two women in face masks go for a walk across Princes Bridge in Melbourne on Thursday
A group of people wear face maskks as they walk along Bourke Street in Melbourne
From Thursday, Victorians in locked-down areas of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire have been required to cover their faces when they leave the house or risk a $200 fine.
There have been more than 1,214 fines issued to Victorians over the past fortnight, with more than 200 caught breaking the rules at vehicle checkpoints.
According to The Age, one in five fines issued since the re-introduction of stage three restrictions on July 9 were handed out to Victorians attempting to leave locked-down zones.
On Tuesday, Victoria Police conducted almost 5,000 spot checks at homes, businesses and public places and issued 61 infringements.
Pictured: Police conduct a licence check along Melton Highway in Brimbank
Medical staff are seen in face masks in Melbourne on Thursday as Victoria recorded another 403 coronavirus cases
Fines were given to a person caught travelling from Strathmore to the Surf Coast for a surfing trip, a group of people ‘sitting on a park bench drinking alcohol in the Melbourne CBD’ and people attending a party in Monash.
Victorians caught flouting the stay-at-home orders can receive the $1,652 infringement.
New South Wales recorded another 19 coronavirus cases on Thursday – with most of the new cases linked to known Sydney clusters at the Crossroads Hotel and the Thai Rock restaurant.
There were nine new cases linked to the Thai Rock cluster – with one being a child who attended Tomaree Public School.
Another case associated with the Thai Rock cluster is a toddler who attends Goodstart Early Learning Anna Bay.
Pictured: COVID-19 testing in Bondi, Sydney’s eastern suburbs, on Wednesday
From Thursday, Victorians in locked-down areas of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire must cover their faces when they leave the house or risk a $200 fine. Pictured: A woman in a face mask walks in front of Flinders Street Station
There were three new cases linked with the Crossroads Hotel cluster, while three returned travellers also tested positive in hotel quarantine.
One new case was a south-western Sydney resident who acquired their infection in Victoria and has been self-isolating since arriving in NSW.
There are also fears a new cluster could emerge in Sydney after a Costco shopper tested positive to coronavirus.
The infected person visited the store at Marsden Park, in Sydney’s north west, on July 19.
The store is just 500 metres away from an Ikea distribution centre where a worker caught the virus after visiting the Crossroads Hotel.
Anyone who visited the Costco between 11am and 2pm on July 19 is urged to get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
There are currently 94 patients being treated for coronavirus in NSW.
Queensland has banned more travellers from New South Wales’ coronavirus hotspots. Pictured: A general view of traffic congestion on the Gold Coast Highway on July 10 in Coolangatta
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) on Thursday afternoon announced the Queensland borders would be shut to the City of Fairfield from 1am on Monday
On Thursday afternoon, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk moved to ban hundreds of thousands of residents from another coronavirus hotspot in Sydney.
‘In response to further outbreaks – and on the advice of Queensland’s Chief Health Officer – the city of Fairfield NSW has been added to our list of COVID hotspots,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
‘The directive takes effect from 1am, Monday, July 27.’
There are more than 198,817 residents in the City of Fairfield, according to the 2016 Census. The local government area comprises of 27 suburbs.
Queensland had already barred visitors from Campbelltown and Liverpool, both in south-west Sydney, as well as the whole state of Victoria.
Ms Palaszczuk said anyone who has been in Fairfield over the past 14 days will be required to enter hotel quarantine for two weeks at their own expense.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted he does not have a plan for how Australians will be able to travel overseas if scientists fail to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
The prime minister was grilled by A Current Affair’s Tracy Grimshaw on Thursday about his ‘plan’ to reopen the nation’s borders.
‘Right now, the opportunity for large scale travel beyond our borders is not foreseeable,’ he said.
Ms Grimshaw asked if Australians would ever be allowed to holiday overseas again or visit family abroad without a vaccine.
The prime minister was unable to answer Ms Grimshaw’s questions but encouraged Australians to look for ‘opportunities’ instead of simply waiting for the jab.
The prime minister was grilled by A Current Affair’s Tracy Grimshaw on Thursday about his ‘plan’ to reopen the nation’s borders
‘Australians can focus on that, ”what if there’s never a vaccine?” and that means your head is to the floor,’ he said.
‘And when your head is to the floor, you can’t see what your opportunities are ahead.
‘That’s where I need Australians heads, I need them looking up.
‘I need them looking forward, because when they’re doing that, they’re going to be encouraging each other, they’re going to be opening their businesses, they’re going to be doing whatever it takes to keeping people in jobs.’
Mr Morrison said Australia will ‘crack this’ whether there is a vaccine or not.
‘We will deal with whatever circumstance that confronts us because that’s what Australians do,’ he said.
Pictured: A coronavirus social distancing sign is seen at Sydney Airport during the pandemic
Mr Morrison is hopeful Australia and New Zealand will be able to agree on a travel zone between the two nations before the end of the year.
He continues to chat regularly to New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and said there had been interest from other Pacific nations and Japan about ‘safe travel’.
As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Morrison encouraged Australians to continue to follow the health advice.
‘You keep washing your hands, you keep your 1.5 distance, you keep your health system’s capacity strong, you, you keep ensuring people book and sit at tables,’ he said.
‘That’s what you do [without a vaccine]. You run your country, you run your society, in a COVID-safe way.’
‘Right now, the opportunity for large scale travel beyond our borders is not foreseeable,’ Mr Morrison said