Victoria ‘Getting on Top of Virus’, Australian PM Says

August 18, 2020 Updated: August 19, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it looks like Victoria is getting on top of a second wave COVID-19 outbreak, telling Melburnians they must stay the course.

“Obviously the number of deaths we have seen is very upsetting and disturbing,” he told Nine’s Today show on Aug 19.

“But those (case) numbers look like we are getting on top of it now, which is welcome and we’ve got to stay the course.”

Victoria reported 222 new infection cases on Tuesday, its lowest daily total since July 18, but it was cold comfort to the families of the 17 mostly elderly people who died.

Those deaths take the state’s COVID-19 fatalities to 351 and the national toll to 438.

But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has cautioned that lower testing rates might be linked to a recent run of lower case numbers.

“We don’t want that to be an inhibitor in any way of moving to a new phase and a new set of rules,” Andrews said.

An inquiry into Victoria’s hotel quarantine program heard this week about 99 percent of current cases can be traced back to returned travellers who were berthed at two Melbourne hotels.

Morrison on Wednesday continued to deflect federal responsibility for the crisis, despite the aged care royal commission last week castigating his government for not having a plan—an assertion he rejects—to protect the elderly from the virus.

“We regulate aged care, but when there is a public health pandemic, then public health, whether it gets into aged care, shopping centres, schools or anywhere else, then they are things that are for Victoria,” he told ABC breakfast television.