Victoria has confirmed a record 25 COVID-related deaths in a 24-hour period for the first time since the pandemic began as experts warn fatalities could soar.
The latest figures mark the deadliest day in Australia’s fight against COVID-19, surpassing the record figures set by Victoria last Wednesday, when 21 people died.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed 22 of the 25 deaths are associated to aged care facilities, making up 216 of the state’s 309 total deaths since the pandemic began.
The deadly respiratory virus has reached at least 120 care homes in the state, and there are 87 active cases among vulnerable people living in disability care homes.
Victorian authorities and medical experts have warned the death toll will likely continue to rise as a direct result of the high case numbers the embattled state identified weeks ago, particularly in the aged care sector.
A further 282 cases of the virus were also confirmed in the state on Monday, as the daily case numbers continue to drop on the back of the state’s extreme lockdown measures, which were introduced on July 30.
The latest figures mark the deadliest day in Australia’s fight against COVID-19, surpassing the record figures set by Victoria last Wednesday, when 21 people died. This graph illustrates the closing gap between new daily case numbers and daily deaths
Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to hold his daily press conference on Monday to discuss further details about the new cases and fatalities
Staff wearing PPE are seen at an aged care facility in Melbourne on Sunday, August 16. The aged care sector in Victoria is experiencing high casualty rates as a result of COVID-19
Last week, medical officials expressed hope that the case numbers appeared to be on a slow but steady decline – while also warning the death rates likely hadn’t peaked yet.
The ABC’s medical commentator Dr Norman Swan said the strict lockdown measures have helped to stem the spread of the virus.
‘I actually think we’ve turned a corner,’ he told ABC News last Monday.
Dr Swan said the surging death toll could be directly attributed to the soaring case numbers the state experienced weeks ago, which peaked when 725 cases were identified on August 5.
‘What you’re seeing now with these deaths, tragically, is these high numbers that you saw over two weeks or so ago in Victoria,’ he said.
Victorian authorities had also warned deaths would continue to rise given the number of people in hospital with the virus.
There are currently 44 people in intensive care in Victoria, up from 40 on Sunday. Of those, 32 are on ventilators.
At least 2,000 cases are still active among aged care residents.
Two security guards speak with Victoria Police during Melbourne’s lockdown while all wearing face masks and PPE
Metropolitan Melbourne has been under tough stage-four restrictions – including an 8pm curfew – while regional Victoria is under stage-three measures
Two young women wearing masks are seen walking along the Williamstown foreshore as part of their daily exercise while in lockdown. Authorities say the lockdown appears to be working in slowing the infection rate
Deakin University epidemiology chair Catherine Bennett made a similar observation, but was confident the death toll would soon drop off in accordance with the cases.
‘That will be the pattern this week, but hopefully it will be relatively short-lived,’ she told The Age.
‘Just as we saw cases peak last week, it will be this week we will probably see the peak in daily deaths.
‘The consequences of the previous infection hike is playing out in terms of the daily death counts.’
Metropolitan Melbourne has been under tough stage-four restrictions – including an 8pm curfew – while regional Victoria is under stage-three measures.
The lockdowns are in place until at least September 13 after Mr Andrews extended the State of Emergency and lockdown by four weeks.
‘We will beat this virus – and extending the State of Emergency ensures we have all the tools we need for the fight,’ he said on Sunday.
Melburnians are able to exercise for one hour a day under the strict stage four lockdown orders which are in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. Pictured: People exercising on August 16
Victoria Police escort a resident back to Hambleton House accommodation facility in Melbourne on Monday as a further 25 deaths were recorded in the state
Metropolitan Melbourne has been under tough stage-four restrictions – including an 8pm curfew and restrictions on exercise – while regional Victoria is under stage-three measures. Pictured: People exercising in Albert Park on August 16
‘I thank every Victorian who is part of our massive team keeping our community safe – you can thank them too by following the rules, which will see us all get through the pandemic.’
Since 2 August, Victoria has also been in a State of Disaster, which can remain in place for up to one month, and may then be renewed.
Mr Andrews will front the media and the public on Monday for his 50th appearance in as many days.
On Saturday, he confessed that he didn’t remember the last time he had a day off – and had no intentions to take one any time soon.
‘I don’t stop because this virus doesn’t stop,’ he said at Saturday’s press conference.
New South Wales recorded five new cases on Monday and one fatality, while South Australia also recorded a new case in a person recently repatriated from India.
Queensland had no new cases on Monday.
Melbourne is under stage four lockdown, forcing retailers to close and quietening the usually busy streets. Pictured: A lone tradesman in Swanston Street