Victoria has detected another 459 coronavirus cases and 10 more people have died as Melbourne’s outbreak shows no signs of easing.
Seven men and three women, aged in their 40s to 80s, died in the past 24 hours, and there are 228 Victorians in hospital with 42 in the ICU.
Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria tested 42,573 people in that time, smashing its previous record of about 37,000 tests.
Victoria has detected another 459 coronavirus cases and 10 more people have died as Melbourne ‘s outbreak shows no signs of easing
Tougher restrictions on Melbournians appear all but certain, but health officials doubt they would do much good as essential services are the hardest hit.
Among them are nursing homes where more than 260 vulnerable patients are battling the disease along with 256 infected carers.
Seven of Sunday’s deaths were nursing home patients in known outbreaks, with the other three including a man in his 40s not linked to a particular cluster.
The biggest outbreak is at St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner where 74 staff and residents tested positive.
St Basil’s is so concerned about the virus, which could be deadly to its elderly residents, ripping through the home that it evacuated 20 of them.
Estia Aged Care in Ardeer has 71 cases and Menarock Life Aged Care in Essendon has 60 – the two next badly-affected nursing homes.
Victoria had 459 new coronavirus cases (pictured) on Sunday after clusters in aged care facilities continue to grow and at least 313 health workers have been infected
There are 381 active cases among healthcare workers, Mr Andrews said.
‘That is a significant challenge, given, whilst we have overall capacity and we’ve worked very hard all throughout the year to grow the number of people that can be available for our fight against this virus in a clinical sense,’ he said.
‘Whenever we have clinical staff and other critical health workers away, furloughed because they are a close contact or in fact as an active case, that does put some additional pressure on our system.
‘It is not just about ordering the equipment that we need – gowns, gloves, masks, machines to help you breathe, patient monitors, actual beds, mattresses, all of those things.’
Police are also tied up dealing with people who have long confrontations with staff at businesses that enforce mask wearing as a condition of entry.
Other obstinate Victorians rage at officers at checkpoints, including conspiracy theorists who believe they are above the law.
Victoria Police and Australian Defence Force members (pictured) were seen patrolling the streets of Melbourne to enforce coronavirus rules on Saturday morning
Mr Andrews urged Victorians to wear masks, which is compulsory in Melbourne and voluntary in the rest of the state.
‘I’m deeply grateful to all those Victorians who are. It is very impressive to see so many people,’ he said.
‘It makes you very proud to see so many people wearing masks right across the city, particularly in regional Victoria, too, where it’s not compulsory, but where you can’t maintain the 1.5m distance.
‘It is something we are asking you to do, and reports from across Victoria is that that is happening and that’s a fantastic, simple but powerful step we can take to try to curb the spread of this virus.’
As Victoria approaches three weeks of triple-digit daily case rises and rising deaths, questions are being asked about what more can be done.
‘People have talked about stage four and a broader shutdown but the very places where we are seeing outbreaks, the very places where we are seeing transmission, are the places that would remain open if we went to a stage four sectoral shutdown,’ Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters on Saturday.
Such places include aged care homes, hospitals and food processing facilities which are all essential services.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday said ‘masks are effectively our stage four’, though he refused to rule out further restrictions.
Police have been fining people for not wearing masks and for failing to abide by stay-at-home restrictions.
In the 24 hours to Saturday evening, police handed out almost 100 infringement notices, including to a man who was on a two-hour drive out of Melbourne to visit a friend.
The alarming number of infections across the state’s aged care sector has attracted federal input with the establishment of a centralised aged care response centre.
The federal government will oversee the operation from Emergency Management Victoria’s Melbourne hub.
One-third of the state’s COVID-19 deaths are linked to aged care and there are 536 active cases across 38 facilities.
Michael (pictured) was put in an induced coma while battling coronavirus. He said it was ‘like drowning’
There are 3,995 active cases in Victoria and 61 people have died. Cases rose by 357 on Saturday, 300 on Friday and 403 on Thursday.
Public housing outbreaks continue in large numbers with 300 active cases at towers in North Melbourne and Flemington and 66 cases in Carlton.
There are 183 linked to Al-Taqwa College in Truganina and dozens of active cases in food production, including 45 linked to the Australian Lamb Company in Colac.
Restrictions are causing dire concern at the Victoria-NSW border with doctors warning in an open letter to NSW Health that long border queues could have tragic consequences for Victorians in need of emergency care.
Emergency surgery, ICU and paediatric services are all based in Albury with no practical alternatives nearby in Victoria.
Media reports say there have already been a few near misses, including a Wodonga child choking but having to wait 30 minutes in a border queue to cross the border to hospital.