15 cases, five deaths; Dan won’t confirm restrictions easing
Victoria has recorded 15 new coronavirus cases, along with five deaths overnight.
And Melbourne's 14-day rolling average has dipped below 30, now standing at 29.4.
The city's 14-day average was 32.8 on Monday, well within the state's 30 to 50 case range required to move to the second step on September 28.
Meanwhile, regional Victoria's 14-day average is 1.1.
Despite the improvement, Daniel Andrews is refusing to detail whether there will be any changes to the plan, saying it "isn't settled".
The city's 14-day average was 32.8 on Monday, well within the state's 30-50 case range required to move to the second step on September 28.
That step will allow childcare to reopen, schools to begin a staged return to classrooms and outdoor gatherings of up to five people from two households.
The Premier said the state was "absolutely on track", but refused to say whether there would be further easing, given the quicker-than-anticipated progress.
"We will take some steps, albeit cautious steps, on Sunday," he said.
"I wish I could provide an absolutely definitive answer today, what was going to happen. That isn't settled." Instead, Mr Andrews said "deep conversations and ongoing conversations" were being had with industries including supermarkets and distributors.
Scott Morrison said on Tuesday he was hopeful of changes to accelerate Victoria's road map out of the "terrible mess".
"They obviously want to get out of this mess," the Prime Minister told Sky News.
Welcoming improvements to the plan, he said the federal government was encouraging further progress to get businesses back to work.
But Mr Morrison also warned Australia could not "pretend like it's not there", pointing to new virus outbreaks across the world.
"We've got to be careful but I think in Australia we can also be confident," he said.
It came as Victoria recorded 28 new infections, a slight rise on Monday's figures, with 22 cases linked to outbreaks and aged care and two new mystery cases. There were three deaths - women in their 70s, 90s and 100s - taking the state's total to 766.
There are 620 active cases across the state, including 74 healthcare workers, 20 in regional Victoria and 328 in aged care. Eighty-four Victorians are battling coronavirus in hospital, including eight in intensive care, with five of those on a ventilator.
There were no new cases in regional Victoria, which has a 14-day average of 1.9.
Mr Andrews did not rule out more relief for the regions but said "getting everybody on equal footing is important".
"But at the same time, I think what we have shown in regional Victoria, taking two steps and being at step three - which is a different position to metropolitan Melbourne - we are prepared to have the rules in regional Victoria reflect the way the virus is actually presenting in regional Victoria," Mr Andrews said.
AGED CARE RESIDENTS MOVE BACK AFTER OUTBREAKS
Dozens of elderly Victorians removed from coronavirus-plagued nursing homes at the height of the second wave are beginning to return as the situation stabilises.
At least 45 elderly aged care residents are being moved back into 11 homes across Melbourne this month.
The Herald Sun understands St Basil's in Fawker, where more than 200 people contracted the virus and dozens died, is among the centres welcoming back residents.
A spokesman for the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre said most residents were returning from hospital but some were also being moved from homes of their friends and family.
"This in an ongoing process which began in early September," the spokesman said.
"These aged care facilities have had additional checks and infection control and prevention training to ensure they are safe for residents to return."
Vulnerable elderly residents were moved as the virus took hold of facilities in July when it was deemed unsafe for them to remain.
A majority of the 766 Victorians who have died over the pandemic contracted the virus while in aged care homes.
Active aged care cases peaked at 2075 in mid August and have since fallen to 328 on Tuesday, with 24 new cases reported.
The Victorian Government has unveiled a plan to upgrade public aged care facilities.
Up to 50 state-run homes will share in $30 million worth of facelifts after being tagged for upgrades in a 2019 report.
Changes will include building works, improved accessibility for staff and residents as well as installing new flooring, improving common areas and replacing ageing equipment.
Ageing and carers Minister Luke Donnellan said.
"From Avoca to Yarram, Broadmeadows to Ferntree Gully, this is an investment in our aged care facilities - but also the residents and families who rely on them."
SCARY NEW IMPACT OF CATCHING COVID-19
Australian researchers are looking into whether being diagnosed with COVID-19 could increase a person's risk of developing Parkinson's later in life prompting a race to develop measures to beat the debilitating disease.
Scientists believe the virus is able to invade the brain and central nervous system, but they are yet to determine how.
Professor Kevin Barnham from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne said it was likely the virus could "cause insult to brain cells, with potential for neurodegeneration to follow on from there".
Academics are now calling for the development of more diagnostic tools, such as a national screening program, which would help detect neurodegeneration early, as well as a long-term monitoring plan for people who have had COVID-19.
Neurological symptoms in people infected with the virus range from severe, such as a lack of oxygen to the brain, to mild, such as a loss of smell.
While the latter symptom may not cause concern, it can indicate something is happening beneath the surface, Florey Institute researcher Leah Beauchamp explained, such as acute inflammation in the olfactory system, which is responsible for smell.
Inflammation plays a major role in the development of neurodegenerative disease.
Loss of smell presented in about 90 per cent of people in the early stages of Parkinson's - even a decade ahead - presenting a "new way forward" in detecting someone's risk of developing the disease early, Ms Beauchamp said.
But the progression of the disease was quite slow and COVID-19 patients wouldn't expect to see an onset of Parkinson's until at least five years after being diagnosed with coronavirus, Prof Barnham explained.
He said similar neurological developments could unfold down the track.
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NEW PUSH TO EXPAND NSW BORDER BUBBLE
Victoria is pushing for the state's border bubble to be expanded to allow more areas to apply for travel permits.
Agricultural Minister Jaclyn Symes has written to the NSW government Minister Brad Hazzard requesting areas such as King Valley, Tawonga South, Ovens Valley, Buffalo River, and Greta to be included in the current travel exemptions, in the bid to help the local economies.
The current permit system allows residents within 50km of the border to travel between the two states.
However. Ms Symes said towns outside the catchment area that were COVID-free were suffering unnecessarily.
It comes as the idea of allowing all regional Victoria to be exempt from the border restrictions continues to be floated with New South Wales, however government insiders say the decision may be a long way off.
However, other states have begun relaxing their borders amid growing pressure to allow more interstate movement.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the border will reopen to NSW from tonight.
Meanwhile Queensland will shift its current border zone, allowing residents from Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley, and Glen Innes access permits from October 1.
Originally published as Why Dan won't confirm restrictions easing