Victoria has recorded 26 new locally acquired cases of coronavirus a week into its statewide lockdown.
The health department has confirmed Thursday’s new infections are all linked to the current outbreak, which originated in NSW and now totals 133 cases.
Twenty-four of the 26 cases were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period.
It is the state’s highest daily total of the current outbreak and follows the 22 cases reported on Wednesday.
But Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says he suspects the state would already be dealing with 200 to 300 cases if it had not entered lockdown a week ago, citing the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant.
“It is a variant that takes off from dozens to thousands of cases within just a matter of weeks,” he said on Wednesday.
“If we’d locked down today, instead of when we did, we would get thousands of cases in the next couple of weeks. We’d be in a world of hurt.”
Prof Sutton said he believed community transmission had peaked but expected more household cases to emerge.
He also warned the number of people in intensive care could grow, given the severity of the Delta variant.
As of Wednesday, there are five people in hospital with COVID-19, including a man from Barwon Heads in intensive care.
Some 18,000 primary close contacts are self-isolating across the state, while the number of exposure sites has grown to more than 380.
Prahran Market in Melbourne’s inner southeast has been shut for deep cleaning after a positive case visited on Saturday between 9.40am and 11.15am.
The entire building has been declared a tier-one exposure site, meaning anyone who visited during the time period must get tested and quarantine for 14 days.
A number of stores and a nail salon in Roxburgh Park have also been added to the exposure sites overnight.
Some 43,674 tests were processed in the 24 hours to Thursday morning, while 14,230 Victorians received a vaccine dose at one of the state-run hubs.