113 new cases, PM calls for plan to exit lockdown

Victoria's daily COVID-19 increase has remained stable, with another 113 new cases detected.

The figure matches Thursday's increase, and is the equal lowest increase since July 5 when 74 cases were reported.

Authorities have admitted the number is slightly ahead of early projections, with confidence in how the state is tracking.

Sadly, another 12 people died from COVID-19, bringing Victoria's total death toll to 497.

It comes as Scott Morrison has called for a road map for Melbourne to move out of lockdown that is transparent and location-­specific.

The Prime Minister will on Friday call for a "principles-based approach to easing restrictions" and shifting out of stage four, with decisions that are driven by data, well communicated to the public, and "co-designed with industry where appropriate".

It comes after Premier Dan Andrews on Thursday flagged a road map to recovery would be revealed "soon", but offered no detail on what post-lockdown life would look like.

Amid increasing pressure from struggling businesses demanding some certainty, Mr Andrews said: "When I am ready to make those announcements then I will make those announcements.

"We quite soon hope to be able to give people a road map, a clear plan about what coming out of stage four looks like, what opening up looks like, what finding COVID-normal looks like.

"I am not in a position to be able to do that, but what I am foreshadowing is we will give people as much notice as we possibly can."

Melbourne’s usually-bustling CBD is now deserted under Stage 4 restrictions. Picture: Jay Town
Melbourne’s usually-bustling CBD is now deserted under Stage 4 restrictions. Picture: Jay Town

It comes as the state recorded 113 new coronavirus cases - the lowest since July 6.

Mr Andrews said numbers were "stabilising" and even ­admitted "we are probably ahead of where we might have expected".

But he still declined to provide clarity about when people could return to work and leave their homes.

The state government is also looking increasingly likely to clinch a six-month extension on the controversial ­extension of the state of emergency, which expires on September 13.

It had originally wanted a year-long extension, which would have given the Premier and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton the ongoing power to impose restrictions, including to wear masks or to stay at home, without parliament's approval until September 2021.

Flinders Street Station during stage four lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling
Flinders Street Station during stage four lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling

 

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has compromised by ­offering a six-month deal amid intense backlash from the public and crossbench MPs, some of whose support the government needs to pass the Bill.

It is understood Animal Justice Party's Andy Meddick, Reason party MP Fiona Patten, independent Catherine Cumming and two Justice Party MPs have indicated they are open to negotiating with the government.

But Opposition Leader ­Michael O'Brien hit out at Mr Andrews for keeping Victorians in the dark while seeking to extend his power.

"Victorians want to see a plan to get us out of this state of emergency but Daniel Andrews has only got a plan to keep us in lockdown," Mr O'Brien said.

He also raised concern the proposed amendments would allow the government to keep restrictions in place, even if the state had no active cases of COVID-19.

According to the latest data, Victoria has 3308 active COVID-19 cases.

Melburnians are only allowed one hour of exercise during stage four. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling
Melburnians are only allowed one hour of exercise during stage four. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling

NEW TWIST IN AGED CARE OUTBREAKS REVEALED

Longer wait times for coronavirus tests may have contributed to outbreaks through some aged care facilities, with the head of one Catholic provider revealing some his staff waited two to three days for a result.

Speaking before a parliamentary inquiry into the government's COVID-19 response, Mercy Health Aged Care Group chief executive Stephen Cornelissen said it was difficult to point to one single cause to why the virus had spread so quickly through the sector.

But when pushed for ways the system could be improved, Mr Cornelissen said there had been longer waits than expected for staff who were getting tested early on in the pandemic.

"I want to be clear I don't think I've got many workers that came to work sick," he said.

"They were very concerned about what they may bring into the state … Most were asymptomatic.

"(But) some of those first test results may have been a bit slow getting to them.

"That may be because aged care workers weren't seen as healthcare workers, or didn't identify themselves as a health care worker.

"During those two to three days of first response and contact tracing, that's the difference between catching it early or it catching you."

Mr Cornelissen said the aged care facilities had set up plans for the virus but that improvements could be made in the way governments and agencies communicated.

"They were never going to be foolproof," he said.

"The problem was that … It seemed like we were asked by five or six different agencies to provide the same document.

"Aged care is a very thinly managed organisation and one manager responding to all those is a concern.

"If that could be co-ordinated I think that would be an improvement."

 

MORE NEWS

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Originally published as 113 new cases, PM calls for plan to exit lockdown


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