The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has cautiously welcomed a “promising” drop in the number of coronavirus cases, but it comes as authorities say the virus-stricken state could still see many more deaths in the week ahead.
Deputy chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd has also noted the fall in case numbers but with an added warning to Australians to prepare for a grim future.
Victoria recorded 322 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to Monday and 19 people died from the virus – the state’s worst daily death toll since the pandemic began. Fourteen of the deaths were linked to aged care facilities.
Sunday was the state‘s second worst day for deaths with 17 more fatalities and 394 new cases.
Australia’s coronavirus death toll has surged from 200 to more than 300 in just nine days.
Victoria recorded its highest number of daily cases on August 5, when 725 people tested positive to coronavirus. It also recorded the previous highest daily death toll with 15 fatalities.
Since then however, case numbers began to hover around the 500 mark, with Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth claiming on Sunday: “It appears that we’re on the plateau”.
With metropolitan Melbourne under stage four restrictions and the lockdown set to last another five weeks, Premier Daniel Andrews said cases are stabilising, but that the state has a long way to go.
“It is only one day’s data, and we’ve got to dive them down so we can reopen,” he said on Monday.
While calling the drop in cases in Victoria “promising”, Prof Kidd said deaths usually follow around seven to 10 days after someone is first diagnosed with the virus.
“We are seeing the first promising signs of a reduction in daily numbers of cases, but it is too early to be certain,” Prof Kidd said, claiming officials will be “following the numbers very closely” over the coming week.
“We are now at the end of the first week of these stage four restrictions in Victoria.
“And so what we hope we will see over the coming week is the number of new infections each day will continue to decline hopefully.
“There is a 7- 10 day lag between the daily reports in numbers of cases and people dying, some people sadly die very early in the course of COVID-19, but for many people it is a week or more after they have been infected that we see people who are gravely unwell.”
He said despite the good news so far Australia’s death toll was certain to rise.
“While it’s heartening to see the declining number of cases being reported each day from Victoria – and we have seen that over the past five days – while we still have hundreds of cases being reported each day, we will continue to have people admitted to hospital and people becoming gravely unwell. And sadly some of those people will die.
It came as new ads were aired across Victoria in a bid to get residents to comply with the stage four lockdown.
The ads tell the confronting stories of people who caught the virus, including middle-aged woman June who thought she would die.