Grim figure marks more Aussie deaths

Victoria's chief health officer has painted a grim picture of the impact the state's rising case numbers will have on it's COVID-19 death toll.

The state recorded 238 new cases on Wednesday and Professor Brett Sutton warned it is highly likely more people will die due to the continually high number of infections.

Professor Sutton said every time the state records a triple figure rise, it's dangerous.

"A proportion of all new cases will develop severe illness. They'll need to be hospitalised," he said.

"A few per cent of those totals will require intensive care and, you know, one in 100 or more die.

"So when we have 238 cases every day, we're looking at two to three deaths in a week's time."

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The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne where hospital workers are among new confirmed coronavirus cases in Victoria this week, with eight staff testing positive. Picture: Robert Cianflone
The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne where hospital workers are among new confirmed coronavirus cases in Victoria this week, with eight staff testing positive. Picture: Robert Cianflone

His comments came after Victoria recorded its 27th death, with a woman in her 90s dying from the virus overnight.

Professor Sutton said the slight decrease in number may indicate some stabilisation in new infections, but said it is still "not enough".

"We have to have these numbers decrease, but the stabilisation of the last couple of days might be just the very beginning of the effect of the restrictions that have been put in place now for a week or a bit more," he said.

"So it's somewhat encouraging, but it's absolutely not enough and we need to make sure that we can drive these cases right down by sticking to the rules and by doing everything that we can to manage our own symptoms."

Even though yesterday's number of new coronavirus infections in Victoria is above 200 it's a "stabilisation" and "might be" the beginning of the effect of the lockdown, he said.

Hand hygiene and mask wearing are critical because there's more risk of community transmission now that there are so many more cases. He also floated the idea mandatory mask wearing.

 

Active COVID-19 Cases in VIC

Source: Vic DHSS

 

But with infections rising in some suburbs in Melbourne, it is causing concern.

Wyndham, a council area in Melbourne's west, has the highest number of infections in the state. Last month, it had just five active cases of COVID-19.

While previous hotspot Hume's number of active infections has dropped by nine to 235, Wyndham now has 249 active COVID-19 cases - a number that increased by 18 overnight.

The number of active virus cases in several eastern suburbs are also similar to the ones reported in Melbourne's hotspot areas just over a fortnight ago - sparking fears they could be next to see a surge in infections.

Whitehorse, Casey and Manningham all now have active case numbers in the double-digits, though health authorities are hoping the Stage 3 "stay at home" restrictions brought in last week will prevent a similar spike in numbers.

"These restrictions have become necessary because of the sharp increase in cases," Professor Brett Sutton said.

"If you live in these areas, there'll be only four reasons to leave your home: shopping for food and essential items; care and caregiving; daily exercise; and work and study, if you can't do it from home."

Shoppers outside a Woolworths store in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Shoppers outside a Woolworths store in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

 

Only 300 of Victoria's COVID-19 cases have downloaded the COVIDSafe and Professor Sutton said he's "not aware of any cases" and contacts identified through the app.

It comes as five healthcare workers at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne reportedly tested positive to COVID-19.

Seven other staff members who were close contacts of the cases have gone into self-isolation, The Age revealed.

The publication reported the new cases came after a sushi outlet in the hospital's food court had to be shutdown when a worker was diagnosed with the virus.

At least two doctors are believed to be among the five infected healthcare workers.

Meanwhile a contractor who worked at the Woolworths distribution centre in Melbourne's southeast also tested positive to coronavirus.

Other workers at the site in Mulgrave were notified of the positive result on Tuesday.

It's understood the worker, who is not a Woolworths team member, was not in close contact with any other staff during their shift.

 

Originally published as Grim figure marks more Aussie deaths


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