2 Jul 2020

Health boss fears more Covid-19 deaths in Victoria

6:00 pm on 2 July 2020

Another 77 people in Victoria have been diagnosed with coronavirus and the state has recorded its single biggest increase in community transmission to date.

A man has a swab sample taken during testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a drive through pop-up venue in Melbourne on July 1, 2020.

A man has a swab sample taken during testing for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a drive through pop-up venue in Melbourne. Photo: AFP

Of the new cases, 13 are linked to outbreaks, 37 were discovered through routine testing and 27 are still under investigation.

None of the new infections are from hotel quarantine.

It's the fourth-highest daily increase in Victoria to date, and the largest daily increase since March.

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said 31 of the state's infections had been classed as community transmission, bringing the total to 332.

Locally acquired cases are classified as community transmission if, after investigation by the health department, no source of infection can be found.

Due to the time taken to investigate the source, the 31 additional community transmission cases are not necessarily a part of the 77 new infections announced today.

Professor Sutton said the new cases were "largely in the hot zones … but not exclusively".

An expectation' more coronavirus patients will die

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Brett Sutton Photo: Screenshot/ YouTube / Victoria's Health Ministry

Sutton said "not unexpectedly" the number of patients in hospital had grown to 20, an increase of five from yesterday.

Four of those patients are in intensive care, an increase of two since yesterday.

Asked whether more Victorians could die from the virus, Professor Sutton said he was afraid this was "absolutely a possibility".

"When you've got significant community transmission, when you've got 70-odd cases every day, there is absolutely a possibility, an expectation, that some of those people will die," he said.

"That's why it's incumbent on all of us to be minimising our interactions with others."

Professor Sutton said while a lockdown of problem suburbs beginning today only applies to 10 postcodes, all Victorians should consider whether they need to see family and friends.

"That will be the best mitigation against new postcodes being included," he said.

Fear of increased transmission in schools

The new infections included two more linked to Al Taqwa College at Truganina and five new cases linked to Albanvale Primary School.

There was another infection linked to Villa Bambini Early Learning Centre in Essendon.

A student from Springside Primary School at Caroline Springs, who was a close contact of a known case, tested positive.

Professor Sutton said authorities were seeing, for the first time, a worrying trend in the spread of the infectious virus in schools.

"We are certainly seeing some evidence of student-to-student and teacher-to-teacher, especially teacher-to-teacher, transmission," he said.

But he still expected students in lockdown areas would go back to the classroom as normal at the end of school holidays, which began on Monday.

Family cluster, hotel outbreak linked to new infections

Today's new cases include another person linked to the Stamford Plaza hotel cluster and one person linked to a newly-identified outbreak in Roxburgh Park, one of the suburbs in northern Melbourne that is subject to lockdowns.

That cluster involves a large extended family, with 20 people now being infected across at least eight households.

Sutton said he was taking a small amount of comfort from the fact the number of new cases in Victoria was stabilising.

"But it is never an easy place to sit when you've got 415 active cases, all of which are infectious," he said.

"We've identified them … but it's an indication of a very large number of people who've acquired it, which means there are other infections to be found out there.

"And they're all at risk of transmitting to others if we're not doing the right thing."

Sutton acknowledged some Victorians thought the state's response was "being overblown" when there were 415 active cases in a population of more than 6 million.

"This entire pandemic … started with one person and has killed more than half a million people," he said.

He said Australia "crushed" the first wave of the pandemic.

"My intention is to do exactly the same with this wave and to be in a position where in a month from now we're talking about single digit, if not zero cases, again," he said.

Victoria has now confirmed 2303 cases of the virus, a net increase of 72 after five previous cases were reclassified.

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