Australia

‘Today not the day’: Open up plan on hold

Victoria still has a long way to go before a plan can be finalised to ease restrictions, Premier Daniel Andrews says.Despite falling daily case numbers, the Premier said if the state opened up again now, new infections would quickly skyrocket.While Mr Andrews said there was “clear evidence the strategy was working” with Saturday’s daily case…

Victoria still has a long way to go before a plan can be finalised to ease restrictions, Premier Daniel Andrews says.

Despite falling daily case numbers, the Premier said if the state opened up again now, new infections would quickly skyrocket.

While Mr Andrews said there was “clear evidence the strategy was working” with Saturday’s daily case number dropping below 100, they had to get a lot lower before he could outline a logical and safe plan to open up.

“If we want to open up even with 94 cases per day then it would not take too long before it would not be 94, it would be a much bigger number,” the Premier said.

“They become many hundreds and indeed thousands of cases.

“All of the sacrifice and hard work that Victorians have done would be for nothing.”

Mr Andrews assured Victorians they would defeat the virus and as soon as he could make announcements about opening up again, he would.

“It is frustrating, I completely appreciate that, the nature of this virus is it very difficult to plan ahead, it is very difficult to bring certainty to something that travels so quickly, something that is as wildly infectious as this,” he said.

“We still have to see further days of these numbers dipping and we want them to come down to a very low number.”

He didn’t outline what the very low number was but he said the state was “so close” to driving it down.

“We have all just got to find a way to stay the course,” Mr Andrews said.

“There will be a plan, it will be detailed, it will be based on science, data and evidence in the very best of medical advice.”

The Premier urged Victorian not to do anything this weekend, such as breaching the restrictions, that would jeopardise the strategy working.

“Today is not the day (to outline the plan),” he said.

“I wish I could make all those announcements today but it would not be responsible, it would not be accurate.”

Mr Andrews said the restrictions in regional Victoria were “absolutely working” as new cases numbers continue to fall across the state.

Authorities had been concerned about infection numbers in three regional cities – Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat – but on Saturday Mr Andrews announced only one new case had been recorded across the three regions.

Cases in Greater Geelong remained steady at 59 active infections, cases in Greater Bendigo, rose one to 16 active patients and Ballarat remained steady at six active cases.

“Right across regional Victoria we are seeing numbers falling steadily and that is critically important,” the Premier said.

”Everybody in regional Victoria, from regional cities to the smallest of country towns, (is) doing an absolutely magnificent job in following the rules.

“I know it is difficult, I know it is challenging, but it is working, this strategy is absolutely working.”

A total of 177 infections are active in regional Victoria.

Victoria’s new daily case number dropped below 100 on Saturday, with 94 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours.

The last time the state recorded fewer than 100 cases was 55 days ago on July 5.

While the case numbers are heading in the right direction, 18 more people have tragically died from coronavirus, taking the number of fatalities in Victoria past 500 since the start of the pandemic.

The new deaths bring the state’s total fatalities to 513.

Sixteen of the 18 deaths were linked to aged care facilities – one woman was aged in her 60s, one woman and two men were in their 70s, four women and five men were in their 80s and two women and three men were in their 90s.

There are 481 Victorians in hospital battling coronavirus, with 26 of those in intensive care and 17 on ventilators.

Mystery cases have risen by 26 to 4223 in total, while 2983 infections are active, with 411 of those among healthcare workers.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

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