A man in his 30s has become Australia’s youngest person to die from coronavirus, one of a record number of daily deaths and cases reported by Victoria.
- Non-urgent elective surgeries in regional Victoria will be put on hold until further notice
- Permitted workers who have no-one else to look after their children will still be able to access child care from midnight tonight
- Twelve of the 15 deaths were connected to aged care settings, the Premier said
Fifteen new deaths and 725 new cases were recorded in Victoria overnight — the highest daily totals since the pandemic began.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said 12 of the 15 deaths were linked to aged care settings.
Among the dead are three men and one woman in their 70s, three men and three women in their 80s, and three men and one woman in their 90s.
No further details on the man in his 30s were provided.
The record numbers come ahead of another wave of restrictions coming into effect around Victoria from midnight tonight.
Regional Victoria will return to stage 3 restrictions, many Melbourne businesses will have to close their doors, and limits will be placed on who can access child care and kindergarten.
The Premier today assured Victorians that permitted workers who had no-one else to care for their child, even if they were working from home, would continue to have access to child care.
Mr Andrews said vulnerable children would also be able to continue using those services, however he acknowledged “many, many” families would miss out.
“I know this will cause significant concern and it will be very challenging for many families — but if I were to simply greenlight the best part of a quarter of million kids going to and from child care every day, we will not drive these numbers down,” he said.
To apply, parents need to fill in a Permitted Worker Permit or Access To Childcare Scheme form, available on the Victorian Government’s website.
The new laws will come into effect from 12.01am on Friday, but exclude people who live in approved border communities.
Non-urgent elective surgery in regional Victoria on hold
Elective surgery in regional Victoria will be put on hold until further notice, except for category-one and urgent category-two patients.
“This is a regrettable decision but it is a very important one in order to preserve sufficient capacity in our entire health system,” Mr Andrews said.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the measure would give public and private hospitals in regional Victoria greater capacity to support aged care facilities in their communities.
“Our intention is to resume normal activity as soon as is safe to do so,” she said.
“And at that point in time we will also be looking to have an elective surgery blitz to be able to address the need that will exist at that time.”
She said patients getting surgery in regional Victoria would now also get tested for COVID-19 before their operations, as was the case in Melbourne.
Coronavirus cases in hospitals rise as aged care clusters grow
The number of Victorians with coronavirus in hospital also increased dramatically overnight, from 456 yesterday to 538 today.
Forty-two of them are in intensive care, including six people under the age of 40.
The total number of active cases in Victoria connected to aged care has also jumped, from 1,186 reported yesterday to 1,435 today.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said aged care residents being transferred into hospitals for infection-control reasons, rather than being sick from the virus, contributed to the rise in hospitalisations.
When asked whether it was sustainable to keep transferring aged care patients into hospital, the infectious diseases expert said: “Everything has a limit.”
“It’s not the preferred option,” Professor Cheng said.
He said when there was an outbreak in at an aged care centre, a number of factors were looked at, including infection control and staffing at the facility, and patients’ clinical needs and wishes, before it was decided whether patients needed to be transferred to a hospital.
The Heath Minister said to date more than 300 aged care facility residents had been transferred to private or public hospitals.
Of the 725 new cases, 164 are linked to existing outbreaks and 561 are still under investigation.
There are now a total of 7,227 active cases in Victoria.
The Premier warned there were further steps the Government could take if the latest measures did not drive numbers down, but did not detail what they were.
“If we all continue to do as we should, making better choices, then we’ll keep our community safe and we will get to the other side of this,” he said.
“The alternative, of course, is these restrictions lasting for much longer than they should.”