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Victoria 'on the edge' with 75 new virus cases today


Victoria is experiencing a “concerning” upward trend in coronavirus, with 75 new cases identified overnight.

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Victoria has 288 active cases and nine are in hospital. One new case was linked to hotel quarantine and 14 are linked to known outbreaks, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Monday.

Another 37 cases were detected through routine testing and 23 are still under investigation, with both groups possibly linked to known outbreaks.

While Queensland recorded another day with no new infections, and just two active cases, the Victorian situation has prompted a rethink of Queensland’s health controls. Major football competitions face new requirements, while the latest outbreaks in Victoria come ahead of the Palaszczuk government tomorrow deciding whether border restrictions should be eased on July 10.

In Victoria, there has been a net increase of just 71 cases as four previous cases have been reclassified.

“We are obviously concerned by the increasing number and upward trend, and we are monitoring the situation very closely,” Mikakos said.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young, already had the hotspots on her radar and last week wrote to the AFL, NRL and Rugby Australia requiring an upgrade of their health measures to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading to Queensland.

As a result, any Queensland or Queensland-based team who plays against a Melbourne team, in Queensland or in Melbourne, will be required to quarantine after the match for 14 days. The same will apply to any Queensland or Queensland-based team who plays against a team that has been in Melbourne in the preceding 14 days.

The move will have the biggest impact on the AFL and discussions between the code and Queensland Health continued over the weekend.

“The new measures specifically impact all Queensland-based teams, regardless of the code, and their interactions with Victorian-based teams,” Young said in a statement.

“These new measures do not prevent Victorian AFL teams travelling to Queensland for existing matches. The new arrangements do however, place extra restrictions on Queensland-based teams who play teams who have been in hotspots.”

Queensland Cabinet was meeting today and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has not flagged what the border decision will be. Prime Minister Scott Morrison today said he hoped Queensland lifted the border restrictions as scheduled.

“The people who would be the biggest losers from that border not opening up are the people of Queensland,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

“The people of Queensland need their economy to refire and to resurge. There are Queenslanders who aren’t in jobs which need their borders open.”

More than 792,000 tests have been done in Victoria, about 53,000 in a blitz on suburbs experiencing the latest coronavirus hotspots and more than 15,000 completed since Sunday.

“Many of the cases that have come through today, they are overwhelmingly concentrated in those priority suburbs,” Mikakos said.

Saliva testing also rolled out in Keilor Downs on Sunday.

Monday’s total case increase is the highest daily total in the state since April 2, when 68 cases were detected.

Victoria recorded 49 cases on Sunday, with the state grappling with double-digit increases for almost two weeks.

Health authorities are considering putting Victoria’s coronavirus hotspots in lockdown as the number of new infections in the state balloons.

Earlier, Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, said Victoria was experiencing a second peak of cases, with double-digit daily case increases for most of the past fortnight.

He said the state was “right on the edge” of being able to manage the peak in cases, which accelerated after restrictions were eased.

A fresh blitz aiming to test 100,000 Victorians over a 10-day period is now underway and Sutton said if the surge did get out of control “it will not be from a lack of effort”.

Sutton also said new advice about the benefits of wearing masks, where social distancing was not possible such as on public transport, was on the way.

“It’s pretty clear wearing a mask might provide a bit more physical distance between you and others as they see you wearing it,” he said.

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