13 New Virus Cases, 4 Deaths in Victoria

13 New Virus Cases, 4 Deaths in Victoria
Empty streets of the city are seen in Melbourne, Australia, on July 27, 2020. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Victoria has recorded 13 new virus cases and four more deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 798 and the national figure to 886.

The new cases, confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services on Sept. 29, bring Melbourne’s 14-day average down to 16.4.

There remain 21 mystery cases between Sept. 14-27, all in Melbourne.

Melbourne’s 14-day average needs to drop below five and there must be fewer than five mystery cases for a fortnight before the state eases restrictions further.

Premier Daniel Andrews has said this isn’t likely to happen until Oct. 19.

The premier on Sept. 29 clarified a bevy of rules after the city moved to “step two” of its roadmap on Sept. 28.

Under the latest restrictions, L-platers can recommence supervised driving practice but only when heading out for one of the four permitted reasons.

Victorians are also allowed to travel across metro borders for child care but will be subject to “step two” rules like local residents.

Other clarifications made were that Melbourne dog groomers must only operate from retail stores, painters are allowed to carry out emergency repairs at occupied properties, and public cricket nets can also be used if facilities aren’t required.

The premier defended three senior public servants after the hotel quarantine inquiry heard they failed to brief ministers on major problems in the program.

Lawyers assisting the inquiry on Sept. 28 said the botched program was to blame for the state’s second wave of coronavirus, which has infected 18,000 people and claimed more than 750 lives.

Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles, Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kym Peake and Department of Jobs secretary Simon Phemister were singled out for failing to bring “significant issues” to their ministers’ attention.

Asked if the trio were now briefing ministers, Andrews said on Sept. 29: “Yes, I believe they are.”

“I’m confident that those three public servants—indeed all public servants—are acting appropriately.”

Andrews later confirmed former trade union leader and upper house MP Ingrid Stitt would join his reshuffled ministry following the resignation of Jenny Mikakos.

Mikakos quit parliament and her role as health minister after the premier told the inquiry her department was ultimately responsible for the botched quarantine program.

By Benita Kolovos