Victoria’s virus stategy pays off
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the state's strategy to drive down community transmission is working after it recorded 279 cases in the past 24 hours.
Sunday's COVID-19 figures follow a week of markedly lower daily infection numbers compared to earlier in the month, suggesting the harsh lockdown in Melbourne and tougher rules across the state appear to be having the desired effect.
RELATED: Virus decision facing Victoria
But while he said the state was heading in the right direction, Mr Andrews cautioned Victorians about "backing off".
"This is an endurance race, it's not a sprint in any way," Mr Andrews said on Sunday.
"Whilst these numbers are positive I wouldn't want anyone in any place in Victoria to think that we have the luxury of backing off.
"We've just got to stay the course on this."
Victoria's daily numbers hit a harrowing record peak of 725 on August 5, three days after the first of the stage four restrictions were imposed on Melbourne, including a night-time curfew.
Despite the falling daily case numbers, Mr Andrews says it was still too early to say whether the stage four restrictions would ease at the end of the six-week period on September 13.
"What I would say is if you do a trend over the last seven to 10 days, then we have gone from around … 700 cases or more, we are now not in that territory, that is what the data says to us," he said.
"Where will we be tomorrow? We will have to wait and see what tomorrow's numbers are. I am always cautious, but there is on my part at least, a cautious optimism and a sense of real hope that this strategy is working and that we are seeing numbers fall now."
Mr Andrews said the "key point" was that it was "perfectly appropriate" to be happy with falling numbers, but "but none of us can in any way become complacent or think that OK, now it will all just automatically kick in".
"You've got structures, you've got rules that kind of work at a macro level," he said.
"But ultimately those rules are only as good as the many millions of individual choices and decisions that individuals and families make every single day."
That means "not breaking those rules, not going out, not being out after curfew, not ignoring symptoms and waiting two to three days and then may be getting a test or maybe not".
"All of those really personal choices, that is what makes the rules work, that is what makes the strategy work," he said.
RELATED: COVID survivor can still taste virus
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt also said Victoria was on the path to improvement, shortly before Victoria's numbers were announced today.
"There is a long way to go. There will be good days, there will be bad days," he told Sky News.
"There will be days when the numbers are up and days when the numbers are down. But the signs now are that the trend is of progressive reduction."
In the 24 hours leading up to Sunday, Victoria recorded 16 deaths in the past 24 hours, with 11 of those deaths linked to aged care outbreaks.
Mr Andrews said Victoria's state of emergency, which was first declared in March, has been extended for another four weeks until 11.59pm on September 13.
It is in addition to a separate state of disaster that was declared earlier this month in response to the deadly second wave of coronavirus.
It comes as authorities in Victoria and New Zealand discuss the possibility of a link with cases across the ditch.
New Zealand has seen a surge of new cases of coronavirus after more than 100 days of no community transmission, recording 13 new cases today.
New Zealand's health authorities are still working to isolate where the outbreak originated, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Mr Andrews have discussed possible links between the regions.
"I've had a couple of conversations with Prime Minister Ardern and the New Zealand High Commissioner," Mr Andrews said, according to a report from The Australian. "We're remaining any and all support around some of that data."
But Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there's no evidence that links the outbreak in New Zealand to Victoria.
"I've heard the operator of Americold has said definitely that no freight has gone to New Zealand," Prof Sutton said.
Originally published as Victoria's virus stategy pays off