MELBOURNE—Further restrictions in Victoria would have limited impact on stopping new COVID-19 infections, the state’s chief health officer says.
As Victoria approaches three weeks of triple-digit daily case rises and rising deaths, questions are being asked about what more can be done.
“People have talked about stage four and a broader shutdown but the very places where we are seeing outbreaks, the very places where we are seeing transmission, are the places that would remain open if we went to a stage four sectoral shutdown,” Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters on July 25.
Such places include aged care homes, hospitals, and food processing facilities which are all essential services.
Premier Daniel Andrews on July 25 said “masks are effectively our stage four,” though he refused to rule out further restrictions.
Police have been fining people for not wearing masks and for failing to abide by stay-at-home restrictions.
In the 24 hours to Saturday evening, police handed out almost 100 infringement notices, including to a man who was on a two-hour drive out of Melbourne to visit a friend.
The alarming number of infections across the state’s aged care sector has attracted federal input with the establishment of a centralised aged care response centre.
The federal government will oversee the operation from Emergency Management Victoria’s Melbourne hub.
One-third of the state’s COVID-19 deaths are linked to aged care and there are 536 active cases across 38 facilities.
There are 3,995 active cases in Victoria and 61 people have died.
Cases rose by 357 on July 26, 300 on July 25 and 403 on July 24.
Public housing outbreaks continue in large numbers with 300 active cases at towers in North Melbourne and Flemington and 66 cases in Carlton.
There are 183 linked to Al-Taqwa College in Truganina and dozens of active cases in food production, including 45 linked to the Australian Lamb Company in Colac.
Restrictions are causing dire concern at the Victoria-NSW border with doctors warning in an open letter to New South Wales Health that long border queues could have tragic consequences for Victorians in need of emergency care.
Emergency surgery, ICU and pediatric services are all based in Albury, south NSW, with no practical alternatives nearby in Victoria.
By Andi Yu