17 Sep 2020

Covid-19: Victoria records lowest case increase in three months

4:14 pm on 17 September 2020

Victoria has recorded its lowest increase in coronavirus cases in about three months, as the state reported 28 new infections overnight and eight further deaths with Covid-19.

A courier collects swabs taken at a drive-through testing clinic in Melbourne

A courier collects swabs taken at a drive-through testing clinic in Melbourne. Photo: AFP

Six of the eight deaths were linked to aged care settings, and the state's coronavirus death toll now stands at 745.

Metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day daily case average has fallen from 49.6 yesterday to 44.4 today.

Regional Victoria, which entered step three of its recovery roadmap today, now has a rolling 14-day average of 2.9.

Today is the first time since 24 June Victoria has recorded fewer than 30 new cases.

"That is a fantastic outcome and a tribute to the hard work, sacrifice and contribution every single Victorian is making," Premier Daniel Andrews said.

There are now 941 active cases across the state - a drop of 50 since yesterday - and just 33 of those infections are in regional Victoria.

The State Government has also announced a $26.7 million kindergarten support package to help providers and parents during term four.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

New cases linked to 'cluster of concern' in outer Melbourne

Fourteen of the 28 new cases were linked to existing outbreaks, Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said.

Five are linked to a "cluster of concern" in the Casey local government area, in Melbourne's outer south-east, he said.

"It's spreading in a number of households in Casey, and we're also worried about all the people they've come into contact with outside of that," he said.

"We're not entirely sure [how the households] are linked, but I don't think it's rocket science to say that a number of households in Casey are going to be linked in some way - they're relatively close to each other, and we're still working to establish those links."

Health authorities were working with local councils and community leaders to try and tackle the outbreak, Professor Cheng said.

Earlier this week Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he had personally offered to speak with the community affected by the outbreak.

Victorian cases dropping faster than projected

The modelling the Victorian government used when developing the roadmaps projected that Victoria would have a 14-day average of approximately 63 cases today.

When asked whether that meant new modelling should be done, the Premier said: "I cannot give you an exact date when we rewrite it."

Andrews said figuring out the "narrative" behind the numbers and monitoring trends over time was needed before reconsidering the roadmaps' timeline.

"If we finish up ahead of schedule, we will adjust things and say that at the appropriate time," he said.

"But … that is why it is rolling. You need to see patterns that are truly representative of what is happening out there."

Melbourne is scheduled to progress to the second step of the roadmap on 28 September, as long as the daily case average remains below 50.

The total number of infections with an unknown source detected in Melbourne in the past fortnight has climbed by two overnight to 83.

In order for Melbourne to progress to step three of the roadmap on 26 October, Victoria needs to record fewer than five "mystery" cases over 14 days.

Progressing to step three of Melbourne's roadmap also requires a statewide 14-day daily case average below five.

Regional Victorians celebrate new freedoms

Under step three of the regional Victorian roadmap, people can leave their homes for any reason and have small gatherings in public.

Hospitality businesses are preparing to seat customers after weeks of takeaway only, and accommodation is allowed to reopen.

New South Wales has also relaxed its border rules overnight, meaning Victoria-NSW border residents with a permit can travel freely between the states.

Previously Victorians in the border zone could only enter NSW for specific reasons.

Regional Victoria will progress to the fourth step of its roadmap, scheduled for 23 November, when there are no new cases for 14 days across the state.

For both Melbourne and regional Victoria, "Covid Normal" will only be triggered when there are no new cases for 28 days, no active cases statewide, and no major outbreaks in other parts of Australia.


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