Victorian deaths and virus cases spike

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has dismissed a leaked document that indicates Melbourne’s lockdown will be extended for a fortnight, as new coronavirus cases return to the triple digits. 

Victoria recorded 113 new cases on Thursday – the first time since Sunday that the daily tally has been above 100 – as well as 15 more deaths. 

Mr Andrews said nine of the deaths occurred before Wednesday and were included in the tally following reporting changes. 

Of the 15 deaths, 14 are linked to outbreaks at aged care facilities and bring the state’s toll to 591 and the national figure to 678. 

Mr Andrews described a leaked draft reported by the Herald Sun, indicating Melbourne’s 8pm curfew would remain in place for an additional two weeks, as out of date.

He said the will unveil its road map out of lockdown on Sunday, with two separate settings expected for metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. 

“We will on Sunday give people a clear road map with as much detail and as much certainty as we can possibly provide,” he told reporters on Thursday. 

“It won’t be guided simply by dates on the calendar though, it will be guided by the science and the data. It will be guided by how many cases there are in Victoria and the types of cases.”

Mr Andrews said any path out of restrictions would be “safe and steady”. 

“I know everyone wants to open up tomorrow, I understand that, but if we were to do that, these numbers would explode,” he said.

“We would have a couple of weeks of sunshine and we would we be back most likely in an even worse position than we were four or five weeks ago.” 

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Paul Guerra said the leaked draft looked nothing like the one business and industry groups had been working on with the government. 

“I’m happy to say I have never seen that template beforehand and it’s certainly not the template we have been working with, in conjunction with unions and other industry leaders and the state,” he told 3AW radio. 

Federal Treasurer and Victorian MP Josh Frydenberg also played down the leak, saying, “I will wait for the final plan from the premier on Sunday”.

On Wednesday, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned the need for mandatory mask-wearing could remain in Melbourne and regional Victoria beyond the scheduled end of the current lockdown on September 13.

“I think we’ll see masks for the next month in one form or another,” he said. 

“It may not be all settings at all times.”

Professor Sutton also said the Melbourne curfew could also be continued.

There are 361 Victorians currently in hospital with coronavirus, including 20 in intensive care.

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