Victoria’s lockdown could be extended until Christmas if its coronavirus cases continue to surge, experts have warned.
The state recorded 403 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – its third highest daily total since the pandemic began – and five deaths.
Despite the lockdown, which was imposed on Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire residents two weeks ago, some postcodes have still seen case numbers skyrocket.
In Brimbank, in Melbourne’s outer west, the number of cases has increased by almost 1,000 per cent compared to when the stay-at-home orders were introduced on July 2, with 411 active cases now reported.
As Melbourne’s outer suburbs continue to cop the brunt of the fresh infections, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has issued a desperate plea for young people to abide by social distancing restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.
‘I’m not singling younger people out for the purposes of blame, I’m just, it is a significant part of our new cases, and there’s no getting around that,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘There are a lot of young people who have died of this in other parts of the world.’
Melbourne city is seen with only a dozen commuters are the lockdown was imposed two weeks ago. Experts are now warning the lockdown could be extended if case numbers continue to rise
A couple are seen wearing masks as they go for a stroll on a bridge crossing Melbourne’s Yarra River
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, taking its total to 643
Earlier this week he berated Victorians for not self-isolating as new figures showed 90 per cent of patients failed to isolate between falling sick and getting tested.
There was also 53 per cent of people who had failed to self-isolate while waiting for the result.
‘Unless we have people who get tested, staying at home and isolating until they get their results, then we will not see these numbers go down,’ Mr Andrews said.
With the continued spike in cases, epidemiologists are now predicting the six-week lockdown will be extended.
Mr Andrews is reportedly desperate to reopen his state to avoid economic ruin, but is resolved to only do so when cases dramatically drop to single digits.
Melbourne University epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely told news.com.au it would likely take longer than the remaining four weeks for cases to drop to single digits.
He said in four weeks the number of cases could drop to ‘a couple hundred a day’.
‘If tight suppression is defined as 10 cases or less a day, then I think it’s unlikely that the remaining four weeks of enhanced stage 3 restrictions will get us there,’ he said.
‘It depends on what you want to do as a society, if you are willing to accept a couple of hundred cases a day until a vaccine is found, you don’t need to do more than four weeks.’
Professor Catherine Bennett, who is Chair in Epidemiology at Deakin University, said the process could be sped up if residents continue to wear masks.
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
A lone woman makes her way across the empty road in Melbourne, where COVID-19 cases continue to rise
A woman is seen in a face mask as she goes on a stroll along St Kilda beach in Melbourne
But Professor Bennett warned ‘getting down to double digits within two weeks is a big ask’.
There were 201 people in Victorian hospitals with COVID-19 on Thursday, 40 of those patients were in intensive care.
Mr Andrews has warned that 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.
Two women in face masks go for a walk across Princes Bridge in Melbourne on Thursday
Medical staff are seen in face masks in Melbourne on Thursday as Victoria recorded another 403 coronavirus cases
Fears grow that the lockdown could cause further damage to the economy (pictured: A ‘For Lease’ sign is seen across a vacant retail space in Melbourne)
‘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.’
‘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.
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.
Victoria recorded 403 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – the state’s third highest daily total since the pandemic begun
Pictured: COVID-19 testing in Bondi, Sydney’s eastern suburbs, on Wednesday
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.
Victorians caught flouting the stay-at-home orders can receive the $1,652 infringement.
VICTORIA’S LATEST COVID-19 NUMBERS:
* 403 new cases, the 18th consecutive day of a triple-digit increase, taking active cases to 3630, an increase of 3570 in six weeks.
* Five more deaths, bringing the state’s toll to 49 and the national figure to 133. Most deaths in a day for any state.
* 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.
* 201 people in hospital and with 40 in intensive care.
* 1,413,115 tests have been done in the state since January 1, with 27,151 on Wednesday.
* Of the new cases, 69 are connected to known outbreaks and 334 are under investigation.
* This is Victoria’s third-highest daily case total, after 484 on Wednesday and 428 on Friday.
CLUSTERS TO WATCH:
* 293 cases among residents of public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne (increase of two since Wednesday)
* 60 linked to various public housing towers in Carlton (increase of 3)
* 182 cases linked to Al-Taqwa College
* 73 at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner (an increase of 4)
* 67 linked to Estia Health in Ardeer (increase of 13)
* 55 linked to Menarock Life aged care in Essendon
* 34 linked to Estia Health in Heidelberg (increase of 8)
* 33 linked to Arcare Aged Care in Craigieburn (increase of 3)
* 21 cases linked to Baptcare Wyndham Lodge in Werribee (increase of one)
* 20 linked to Embracia Aged Care Moonee Valley in Avondale Heights (increase of two)
* 72 linked to Somerville Retail Services in Tottenham (increase of 12)
* 58 linked to JBS in Brooklyn (increase of 11)
* 29 linked to Australian Lamb Company in Colac (increase of 12)
* 21 linked to Clever Kids Childcare in Ashburton
* 10 linked to Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown