Victoria is set to record 532 new cases of coronavirus, the state’s worst ever total.
Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said the virus is ‘deeply embedded’ in Melbourne.
He said case numbers should have come down by now, three weeks into Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire’s six week lockdown.
‘The virus is deeply embedded within the community in Victoria,’ Dr Coatsworth told Nine’s Today program.
Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said the virus is ‘deeply embedded’ in Melbourne
‘We know that Victorians in those lockdown zones are mixing far less, the movement data shows us we’re about where we were in that first wave when the curve started to flatten.
‘The other bit of silver lining is that those numbers, whilst deeply concerning, are bouncing between about 350 and 450 a day and certainly we’re not seeing doubling during the week, which has to be a good thing.’
Hundreds of Victorian aged care residents and staff are battling COVID-19 while families struggle to check on their loved ones, with the death toll expected to rise in the nation’s hardest-hit state.
Victoria recorded Australia’s highest single daily death toll of the pandemic on Sunday with 10 deaths and 459 new cases.
As of Sunday, the state had 71 of the country’s 155 deaths – 22 more than NSW – while 228 Victorians remain in hospital, including 42 in intensive care.
A residents wears a mask in Melbourne as the state’s outbreak gets worse
Seven of the deaths are linked to outbreaks at aged care facilities, while the youngest was a man aged in his 40s.
There are currently 560 active cases linked to residents and staff of at least 40 aged care facilities across the state, including 82 cases at Estia Health in Ardeer and 78 at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner.
St Basil’s has been taken over by the federal government to bring the deadly situation under control, including a call centre for families to get information on their loved ones.
The federal government held an online information session with families of residents at St Basil’s on Sunday night, after they gathered at the facility earlier in the day.
Nicholas Barboussas was told by St Basil’s at the weekend his father was in the home and doing well, after he was already told by Northern Hospital his father was fighting for life.
Mr Barboussas told Nine’s Today program the family managed to FaceTime with the ill grandfather before he passed away on Sunday, after Victoria’s official case and toll figures were announced.
‘We saw a smile on dad’s face when he saw us and especially his grand kids. And it was comforting for us to see him albeit in a pretty bad way,’ he said.
Other families said they did not know if their relatives were transferred to hospital with COVID-19 or what their condition was.
‘We understand the emotional impact the situation is having on residents, staff and families,’ Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said in a statement.
The federal government has set up a call centre so families can get information about their loved ones.
On Sunday Premier Andrews said Victorians refusing to wear face masks amid the nation’s deadly coronavirus crisis are ‘selfish’.
Most Victorians have been doing the right thing after it was made mandatory last week for people in locked-down Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire to wear face coverings when outside, Mr Andrews said.
Other Victorians are expected to wear masks when the 1.5m social distancing can’t be done.
‘If you are just making a selfish choice that your alleged personal liberty, quoting something you’ve read on some website – this is not about human rights,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘There are 10 families that are going to be burying someone in the next few days. Wear a mask.’
Videos released on social media of a woman challenging Bunnings workers who asked her to wear a mask to enter a store and calling out a post office worker have also sparked community outrage.
Stores like Bunnings operate on private property and have a right to make requests of customers, including that they wear masks.
The woman in question told the Bunnings worker she was being discriminated against and the request was against the law and her human rights.
Dr Coatsworth said it was ‘disturbing’ to see people attacking others who are doing their job.
‘It is not a human rights issue to decide not to wear a mask,’ he told the Today Show on Monday.
‘I just can’t see how it takes away someone’s human rights or individual liberty to just have to put a face covering on at the request of government. It is simple. We know it’s effective. We know it’s the time to do it.’
Dr Coatsworth praised the overall efforts of Victorians to stay home or wear masks when out in public.
‘It sounds so simple. We realise it’s difficult. The quicker we do that together the quicker the curve will bend down the other side,’ he said.
Police said on Sunday that 126 fines were issued in the past 24 hours.
Twenty $200 fines were handed out to people for failing to wear a mask, including to a man and a woman who refused to give police details when they were stopped.
The state reported a record 10 new deaths for COVID-19, taking the state’s toll to 61 and the country’s to 155.