A man in his 90s has died with Covid-19 in a Victorian hospital, with the state recording another 216 cases of coronavirus.
Only 30 of the new infections were connected to contained outbreaks and 186 were under investigation.
There are now at least 1249 active cases in Victoria.
About 5 million Victorians in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire are under strict stay-at-home orders after weeks of worrying transmission of the deadly virus.
“This is not an ordinary weekend,” Premier Daniel Andrews said. “You’ve got to be in your home if you are in the metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire areas.”
Those in the lockdown zones are allowed to leave their homes for four main reasons: shopping for essential supplies, work or education, medical care or caregiving and exercise.
Victoria has 49 with coronavirus in hospital, including 15 people in intensive care units.
The death of the man in his 90s is the 23rd coronavirus-related fatality in Victoria and brings the national death toll to 107.
“We send our thoughts and prayers and best wishes to his loved ones,” Andrews said.
Those in the restricted areas are now encouraged to wear masks when not able to keep physically distant from others in a bid to stop community transmission of the virus.
Andrews also flagged wearing masks would be an important part of Victoria’s coronavirus response, even when the six-week lockdown ends.
The government yesterday announced 2 million reusable masks would be distributed as part of the push, and Andrews said more detail would be given about that “soon”.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton said he hoped to see the restrictions having an effect on suppression of the virus “from now”.
But he said challenges remained and “we know there will be transmission because of the work people do”, so people and workplaces needed to ensure they were “doing the right things”.
Additional police resources have been deployed to enforce the stage three restrictions, and individuals face on-the-spot fines of $A1652 ($NZ1746) for breaches of the orders.
Andrews said while there might be room for interpretation in the stage three restrictions, he urged people to follow them instead of looking for loopholes.
“That thinking will only see more virus, more cases and a longer lockdown,” he said.
Photo: AFP / YouTube
Remdesivir being used in Victoria
Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said some coronavirus patients in Victoria have been given Remdesivir and that Australia has enough stock of the drug to help with the current outbreak.
He said the current stockpile is a donated supply, but they have been in discussions with Gilead Services to get more.
He said none of the drugs suggested for coronavirus have shown ‘marked results’, but ‘some results’.
The main benefit of Remdesivir is reduced hospital admission times and reduced symptoms.
Coatsworth said there are only 16 people in intensive care at the moment in Australia, meaning it is well within the country’s supplies to cater to the current need.
But he added that the care patients receive in ICU is the best tool Australians have.
Cases in aged care workers show ‘dangers’ of facilities
Aged care and hospital staff have been among the climbing coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
Professor Sutton said Victoria had more outbreaks in aged care facilities than any other Australian jurisdiction.
He said despite the number of outbreaks, “we haven’t had an aged care facility that has had a substantial outbreak”.
“That’s the workforce that we have to be really mindful of,” Professor Sutton said.
“The response in each and every aged care facility is to go into lockdown for those residents and all staff to be tested and for them to go into quarantine period of 14 days and to have that testing before that quarantine is lifted for all residents and staff members.
“But it flags the dangers in aged care facilities.”
Healthcare workers have told the ABC they are still struggling to access enough personal protective equipment (PPE).
More testing sites
Andrews and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos thanked everyone who had come forward for testing.
“Without this data and sense of how the virus is moving, you can’t get to their close contacts or put in place a strategy to get them isolated at home,” Andrews said.
Mikakos said health authorities were putting in “enormous efforts” to make testing sites accessible.
“Ultimately our ambition here is to provide a testing site to everyone within 10 kilometres of their home within metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, the areas where we have a key focus at the present time,” she said.