Local cases halt for 48 hours as 11th Victorian dies

A microscopic image of the coronavirus.

By Luke Voogt

COVID-19 cases in both Geelong and the Surf Coast have halted for the second consecutive day after Victoria recorded its 11th coronavirus fatality last night.

Confirmed coronavirus cases remained at 56 for Geelong and nine for the Surf Coast today, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The result follows a woman in her 80s dying in hospital last night after contracting COVID-19, the department confirmed today.

Another 10 Victorians, aged from their 50s to their 80s, have died from the disease.

Coronavirus cases in Victoria rose 33 to 1191 today, including 623 males and 568 females. Cases range in age from babies to their early nineties.

In Victoria 93 confirmed cases may have been acquired through community transmission with more than 58,000 tests conducted to date, according to the department.

Another 673 were acquired through overseas travel and 414 through contact with a known source, while 11 were still under investigation, according to the department.

“Currently 47 people are in hospital – including 13 patients in intensive care – and 686 people have recovered,” the department said.

Of the 1158 cases, 966 occurred in Melbourne and 217 in regional Victoria, according to the department. A number of cases remain under investigation.

New measures come into force at midnight tonight to further slow the spread of coronavirus in Victoria.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton authorised the changes, which he said were consistent with recent National Cabinet decisions.

Changes to restricted activities include:

• Livestreaming of religious services is possible, however the services can only be attended by those people necessary to conduct and livestream the service.

• Introduction of a truck stop provision exclusively for long haul drivers who can dine in a dedicated section, as long as the physical distancing four square metre rule is observed.

Professor Sutton also amended current stay-at-home directions for childcare arrangements.

The changes allow parents or guardians to have another person come to their house to look after their child while out for one of the four listed reasons, or working or studying from home.

Parents may also drop off their child at another person’s house to be looked after, while out for the following four reasons: food and supplies, medical care and care giving, exercise, and work or education.

Restrictions on visitors to hospitals have now also been expanded to cover residential care facilities for disability services, alcohol and drug services and secure welfare services.

People cannot enter care facilities unless they are a resident, staff member or are visiting a resident of the facility, and, even then, only in limited circumstances.

Visits will be limited to one per day, for a maximum of two hours and with no more than two people at one time.

“It’s important that we have the right measures in place to slow the spread of this virus and protect the most vulnerable in our community,” Professor Sutton said.

“We know these restrictions will be hard for some people, but everyone needs to comply with the measures to the best of their abilities to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

“There is no doubt about it – physical distancing will save lives. I urge people not to look for loopholes, but to follow the advice and do the right thing.

“Our message is clear: if you can stay home, you must stay home.”

Police can issue on-the-spot fines, including up to $1652 for individuals and up to $9913 for businesses who fail to comply with social distancing restrictions.

Under the State of Emergency people who fail to comply could also face a fine of up to $20,000 in court while companies could face fines of up to $100,000.

Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 hotline: 1800 675 398.