Five more Victorians have died from COVID-19, with the state recording 357 new cases as second wave numbers remain “stubbornly high”.
The deaths are four women aged in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, and a man in his 80s, taking the state toll to 61 and the national total to 145.
Active cases have reached 3995, with 313 of those healthcare workers and 536 linked to aged care facilities, split roughly evenly between staff and residents.
Aged care cases span 38 facilities across the state with the majority in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs.
Deaths among aged care-linked cases account for a third of the state’s total.
Premier Daniel Andrews said aged care is a “very, very challenging setting” and efforts are underway to restrict workers to one facility to limit spread.
“PPE (personal protective equipment) for staff is now absolutely compulsory.”
Victorian Opposition leader Michael O’Brien questioned why it took so long to make PPE compulsory for aged care staff.
“This really should have been put in place a few weeks ago because we’ve seen outbreaks there that just should have been protected before we got to this position,” he said on Saturday.
There are 42 Victorians fighting for life in intensive care units.
Of the new cases, just 37 are related to known outbreaks while the remaining 320 are being investigated.
“The numbers have remained stubbornly high, haven’t gone up significantly, haven’t gone down significantly in the past week,” Victoria’s chief medical officer Brett Sutton said.
“There is nothing that will all of a sudden see numbers hit zero in the next couple of weeks.
“It’s not going to be something that suddenly disappears in a way that wave one did.”
Among clusters, 183 are linked to Al-Taqwa College in Truganina, where five cases stem from a local KFC.
Caroline Schelle, Rebecca Le May and Andi Yu in Melbourne