Victoria has diagnosed another surge in coronavirus infections as family and work clusters expand and derail plans to reopen the state.
Another 19 cases were recorded on Sunday, the fifth straight day of double-digit new infections, and only one of them is an overseas arrival.
The state saw 25, 13, 18 and 21 new cases over the four previous days white the rest of the country had none or just a handful each.
Four cases are linked to known outbreaks and three were identified from about 15,400 routine tests overnight.
Victoria has diagnosed another surge in coronavirus infections as family and work clusters expand and derail plans of Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) to reopen the state
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Sunday announced the state’s infectious total had reached 1,836 cases, of which 121 remain active.
‘It is still a very serious situation,’ Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters on Sunday.
‘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.’
Two clusters are driving the outbreak – a family that has 11 infections over nine households, and 13 contractors who worked at the Stamford Plaza hotel.
One of Sunday’s new cases was from the family outbreak and three were workers at the hotel. The other eight cases are under investigation.
All but one of Saturday’s 25 cases were local transmissions, including infections that health authorities are yet to trace to a source.
Mr Andrews said families gathering (file image pictured) were mainly responsible for the spike which caused him to halt the lifting of coronavirus restrictions on Saturday
The suburban Melbourne council areas of Hume, Brimbank, Casey, Darebin, Moreland and Cardinia have the highest number of new cases since June 1.
A student at Camberwell Grammar School also has the virus, as well as a teacher from Springside Primary School at Caroline Springs.
Two cases are linked to two aged care facilities, Lifeview Willow Wood at Cranbourne and Royal Freemasons Springtime at Sydenham.
One new case from Saturday is also linked to an H&M store at Northland Shopping Centre and another to a family outbreak at Coburg.
This includes a GP who did not work while infectious.
Mr Andrews said Victorian families were mainly responsible for the coronavirus spike, spreading it between members during social events.
‘The experts tell us that, largely, the numbers are being driven by families – families having big get-togethers and not following the advice around distancing and hygiene,’ he said.
Two clusters are driving the outbreak – a family that has 11 infections over nine households, including one new case on Sunday (stock image)
Mr Andrews said about half of the state’s cases since the end of April have come from transmission inside someone’s home.
‘You can see how this could happen. People feeling relaxed at home. Letting their guard down. Letting old habits creep back,’ he said.
Mr Andrews on Saturday stalled the easing of lockdown restrictions and rolled back the number of guests allowed to gather at houses to five.
The Premier also said he had spoken to Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the possibility of reintroducing a stay at home order to ensure Victorians follow the rules.
‘As we’ve seen across the world, this virus has the ability to turn a few cases into hundreds in a matter of days,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘That’s why we need to delay an increase to gathering limits in businesses and community facilities.’
Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship will stay at a maximum of 20 people in one space until July 12.
They were scheduled to increase capacity from 20 people to 50 on Monday.
It comes after thousands of protesters gathered for a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne’s CBD on June 6. A third protester was on Thursday confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 after attending the mass gathering. The effect will not be known for another week
The planned reopening of gyms, cinemas, theatres and TABs on Monday will still go ahead, capped to a maximum of 20 people.
From midnight on Sunday, the number of visitors in a house will be reduced from 20 to five. Outside, people will only be allowed to gather in groups of 10 – a decrease from 20.
Mr Andrews also threatened authorities would go door-to-door to make sure close contacts of coronavirus patients who were ordered to self-isolate were doing so.
‘We will go door-to-door, getting the message out there to communities across the state that these restrictions are there for everyone,’ he said.
‘We’ll go door to if we have to make sure people are doing the right thing.’
Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship in Victoria will stay at a maximum of 20 people in one space until July 12. They were scheduled to increase capacity from 20 people to 50 on Monday. Pictured: Cafes in Melbourne’s Centre Place open for dine in customers on June 1
The planned reopening of gyms, cinemas, theatres and TABs on Monday will still go ahead, capped to a maximum of 20 people
The state’s Chief Health Officer said Victoria is ‘absolutely at risk of a second peak’ of COVID-19.
‘We are at a point where we have to turn it around or the numbers get beyond us,’ Professor Brett Sutton said on Saturday.
‘We are indeed at a crossroads.’
A $1,500 payment for those who contract COVID-19 and their close contacts has also been announced.
The cash would go to people who can’t afford to take sick leave.
‘This is about making sure there’s no financial reason for these people not to isolate and to go to work instead,’ Mr Andrews said.
Those who are currently working from home are required to continue to do so until July 31.