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From bad to worse: Victoria's 33 new cases as Qld clear for eighth day

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Victoria has recorded another disastrous day with 33 new coronavirus cases, as the defence force is brought in to bolster efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

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But with another infection-free day it has now been more than one week since Queensland has recorded a new infection of coronavirus, with just two active cases remaining in the state. Victoria has recorded 128 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week.

Despite the milestone, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has expressed significant concern about the Victorian outbreak that threatens plans to relax Queensland border restrictions.

A decision on reopening the border with New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory is expected by the end of the month, with an end to the closure currently proposed for July 10.

The Victorian outbreak has seen dozens of suspected community transmission cases, including clusters, over the past week.

Palaszczuk said she did not want to see infected Victorians bringing the illness to Queensland.

“We have zero cases here in Queensland,” she said.

“We don’t want to see community transmission, we don’t want a second wave.”

More than 1000 troops are coming to Victoria to help the state fight a growing coronavirus problem.

Aside from Australian Defence Force personnel, the state will also get assistance from NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland to process tests for the virus.

A handful of ADF staff have been helping in Victoria for several months, but the contingent will now drastically ramp up.

“Defence has been providing support to Victoria since April and I’m pleased we’re able to rapidly increase our assistance to help Victoria respond to its current COVID-19 circumstances,” Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement.

Up to 850 ADF members will provide support to hotel quarantine monitoring and about 200 personnel will provide logistical and medical support for coronavirus testing.

The agreement will be in place until the end of July.

Victoria’s active cases have jumped from 58 to 143 in the past eight days, while the rest of the country combined has had only 20.

At least 33 staff working at quarantine hotels have been infected with COVID-19 and health officials are investigating links between the workers and other outbreaks.

Currently, 30 people in hotel quarantine have the virus.

It comes as community engagement in the local government areas of Brimbank, Casey, Cardinia, Darebin, Hume and Moreland has ramped up after they were identified as coronavirus hotspots.

The areas have large migrant populations, with many speaking languages other than English at home.

Information about the virus has been translated into 55 languages but state Health Minister Jenny Mikakos conceded the government has to “work harder to reach these people”.

A Victorian man in his 80s became Australia’s first coronavirus-related death in more than a month, bringing the state’s death toll to 20 and the national toll to 103.

Of the state’s 20 new cases on Wednesday, nine were identified through routine testing, seven were linked to known outbreaks and one was a returned traveller in hotel quarantine. Three other cases remain under investigation.

Three people have been linked to a Keilor Downs family cluster, two are staff members at Hampstead Dental in Maidstone, one case has been linked to Northland H&M and another has been linked to St Monica’s College at Epping.

Since the spike in new cases, drive-through testing sites have experienced extremely high demand while panic buying has also returned, with Coles and Woolworths reinstating purchase limits.

-AAP, additional reporting by ABC

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