Coronavirus update: VIC records 723 new diagnoses, 3 NSW schools close, QLD charges women over false declaration

Victoria’s new coronavirus cases continue to surge with the state reporting 723 diagnoses and 13 deaths overnight.

Three men and three women in their 70s; three men and two women in their 80s and two men in their 90s succumbed to the virus. The news comes as Victorian police report issuing 88 fines in the past 24 hours for breaching COVID restrictions. 26 of the fines have been to Melbournians for failing to wear masks. Others were fined for breaching travel restrictions, with one man travelling from Dandenong to South Yarra to buy a coffee.

Premier Daniel Andrew reports more than one in five Victorians have now been tested for the virus as the state ramps up its testing regime in an effort to stamp down transmission. There are now 913 active cases of COVID-19 in the Victoria with 312 hospitalised and 34 in ICU.

In response to the rise in diagnoses the premier has announced new restrictions for those in regional areas of the state. From midnight tonight residents in the Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Colac-Otway and Borough of Queenscliffe will be under great restrictions with no visitors permitted into homes and no attendance of weddings or funerals. Residents in these areas can still visit restaurants and cafes, attend community sport and visit gyms. Additionally, from 1159pm Sunday Aug 2, 2020, face coverings will be mandatory across all of Victoria.

While the premier admits the instructions to regional Victorians may sound contradictory – they can go to a restaurant but can’t visit a relative – he says data is showing transmission in those areas is not coming from people attending venues or food outlets.

“The data drives that decision. That’s where the transmission is [in people’s homes]. It’s not in cafes and restaurants, but it is, in small numbers, in people’s homes. One family to another. A group of visitors either getting it from a family that have got it and may not know, or vice versa. So, there can be no visitors to your home if you’re in any of those local government areas that I have listed,” Andrews said.

The premier said the new restrictions were being made to safeguard the health of regional Victorians.

“We have low numbers in regional Victoria, and we want to jealously guard that. We want to keep those numbers low. These are preventative steps, they’re an abundance-of-caution approach, if you like.”

While the premier conceded the new measures may be inconvenient for some, he said they were based on the best health advice to keep the public safe.

“At the end of the day, keeping those numbers very, very low is about protecting public health, protecting vulnerable people, protecting every family, but also protecting the economic benefits that also come from having regional Victorian case numbers very low.”

The premier stressed the most essential message to get across to Victorians is that they cannot go to work when they are sick.

“I can understand people are concerned. We are all concerned as well. And that’s why the central point, the most important point: You cannot go to work if you are sick.

“But at the same time we know what’s driving at least a very large part, and a controllable part of this.

“Something we can actually influence. And that is patterns of behaviour, and people continuing to go to work with symptoms.”

The premier stressed it is up to every Victorian to do their part and lockdown would continue in the state capital for some time to come.

“Ultimately, every Victorian, I think deep down knows and appreciates that unless everyone plays their part this lockdown will not end anytime soon,” Andrews said.

“If we were to reopen, across metropolitan Melbourne, and Mitchell shire, today, then it will not be 700 cases a day. You can add a zero to that. And our hospitals will be overrun and we will be conducting more funerals.”

In NSW, Sydney’s Fort Street High School in Petersham has been closed for deep cleaning today following a suspected case of COVID-19. Two Catholic schools have also been shut down as a precautionary measure for the next two weeks, following positive diagnoses of family members of children who attend the schools.

Mary Immaculate Primary School in Bossley Park and at Freeman Catholic College in Bonnyrigg Heights have been closed although neither school had students from infected families in attendance yesterday. Both schools will be shut ‘til August 10.

The state has recorded 18 new cases of COVID-19 overnight. Of these, two are in hotel quarantine, two are linked to the funeral gatherings cluster, two are linked to Thai Rock Wetherill Park, four are linked to the Apollo Restaurant at Potts Point and six are under investigation. There is now a total of 3,547 cases recorded in NSW since the pandemic began. 100 people are being treated by NSW Health.

QLD has recorded three new coronavirus cases – one from a couple who had eaten at the Apollo restaurant in Potts Point in Sydney whom were already in self-isolation, with the third, a returned traveller from the US. The news follows reports that yesterday three young women had returned to Queensland after attending a party in Melbourne and mislead border patrol as to their movements. The Queensland Department of Health is advising residents of Brisbane’s southside to be “alert but not alarmed” following the discovery/

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said, in particular, residents of Logan, South Brisbane or Springfield should stay home if they feel unwell, and immediately arrange to be tested. Young thanked the 979 people from Brisbane’s Southside who got tested yesterday upon hearing the news, saying it was a four-fold increase on the testing numbers usually seen in the metro south. Queensland Police Commissioner Katerina Caroll said the police have now identified the three women who have not quarantined properly following their visit to Melbourne now putting the health of 1000s of Quenslanders  at risk.

Carroll said the women would be dealt with by the full extent of the law.

“I am bitterly disappointed with them at this stage, they went to extraordinary lengths to be deceitful and deceptive and quite frankly criminal in their behaviour and it has put the community at risk,” she said.

Carroll has requested the women now be brought before the courts to face the consequences of their actions.

“This is purposefully so to send a message that we will not tolerate this behaviour at our borders.”

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