Victoria Reports Five Deaths and 45 New COVID-19 Cases

By AAP
September 17, 2020 Updated: September 18, 2020

Victoria has had another five COVID-19 deaths as new cases also rise to 45 on Sept 18.

That takes the state toll to 750 and the national figure to 837.

The new case figure is a significant jump after Thursday’s 28 new cases.

But the 14-day rolling average continues to improve, with 42.7 for Melbourne and 2.3 for regional Victoria.

The 14-day averages for cases with an unknown source have also dropped – 73 for Melbourne and none for regional areas.

Also on Friday, Melbourne’s “ring of steel” is sparking traffic delays, with a long line of vehicles on the road to Geelong.

Victoria Police and ADF personnel are enforcing traffic restrictions for a second day to ensure Melburnians don’t try to take advantage an easing of coronavirus restrictions in in regional Victoria.

Channel Nine aired helicopter footage of traffic at the Little River checkpoint heading to Geelong, stretching back for about 20km.

On Thursday, Assistant Commissioner Rick Nugent said police would try to keep delays at checkpoints to 30 minutes.

Melburnians risk a fine of nearly $5000 if they try to travel to regional Victoria without a valid reason.

Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews faces fresh questions over claims from the state’s former top cop that his office “set up” the deal to use private security guards in its botched hotel quarantine scheme.

Text correspondence between then-Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw was shown at Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry on Thursday.

The exchange revealed the Department of Premier and Cabinet may have played a role in the fateful decision to use private security guards.

In his written statement, Ashton wasn’t sure whose idea it was to use private security guards but said it was not his.

He suggests it was Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles who made the recommendation about 1.20pm on March 27, just minutes before his text message exchange with Kershaw.

The premier has been reticent to comment on aspects of the ongoing inquiry but has previously said there was no explicit offer for the ADF to guard the hotels.

Andrews is scheduled to appear before the inquiry next Wednesday, although he will likely be questioned about the claim at his daily media briefing on Friday.

The inquiry has heard security guards caught COVID-19 from returned travellers in hotel quarantine, sparking the state’s second wave of coronavirus.

“Mistakes have been made in relation to this program. The community’s entitled to answers,”  Andrews told parliament on Thursday.

The explosive evidence comes as health authorities attempt to mop up a coronavirus cluster in southeast Melbourne described as a “super-spreading event”.

Melbourne