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A man aged in his 30s has died of coronavirus, with Victoria recording 12 deaths and another 466 new cases of COVID-19 overnight.

Among the dead are two men aged in their 70s, two men and three women in their 80s, and four women in their 90s, with six of those linked to aged care settings.

It brings the state’s death toll to 193. Premier Daniel Andrews said the young man was not a healthcare worker.

Twenty-nine Victorians are on ventilators, as 44 fight for life in intensive care. In total, 636 are in hospital.

And community transmissions are on the rise, with 130 new “mystery cases” overnight.

Victoria has recorded 7808 active cases, with about 7100 in metropolitan Melbourne and 700 in regional Victoria.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said numbers in Victoria’s second wave were stabilising, but the effects of stage four lockdowns were yet to be seen.

media_cameraPolice officers and soldiers patrol Treasury Gardens. Picture: AFP

“Certainly we are seeing some stabilisation in numbers. We are 400 to 500 cases each day, more or less the average over the last week,” he said.

“That is not good enough, but it’s a positive that we have averted an exponential increase through the last couple of weeks.

“If we hadn’t stabilised these numbers, we would have seen thousands of cases per day and there are estimates that we’ve averted 20,000 or more cases by virtue of the stage three restrictions … Stage four restrictions will make a difference but we won’t see them for another week or more.”

There was no suggestion Melbourne was facing a tougher mutation of the virus, despite the lingering number of mystery cases, Prof Sutton said.

Mr Andrews was unapologetic for the childcare chaos that unfolded late this week, defending the government’s approach and saying it was “impossible” to implement a perfect system.

“There is no manual to follow here, there would be a need for refinement and some changes,” he said.

media_cameraAuthorities patrolling The Tan. Picture: AFP

“And they run from childcare, they run to warehousing, pharmaceutical industry, the medical device industry, beef processing and poultry processing and everything in between … If we didn’t make these heartbreaking and incredibly challenging decisions, it wouldn’t be a six-week strategy.

“We would be close to Christmas and would still be seeing hundreds and hundreds of cases each day.”

On the festive season, which is less than five months away, Mr Andrews said he hoped the virus would be more controlled by then.

“What I would want to do is make sure there are as many people at Christmas dinner as possible,” he said.

“Unless we get these numbers down, we are going to continue to have to be asking families to plan funerals. That’s not acceptable.

“We need to get these numbers down. That part of the year, every part of this year, is going to look different. Until we get the vaccine, this is going to be part of our lives.

“But it is not about going back to normal, it is about finding COVID-normal.”

media_cameraA lone passenger walks along a platform at Southern Cross Station on Friday. Picture: William West/AFPFRESH OUTBREAK LINKED TO BAKERY, FRANKSTON HOTEL

Health authorities are probing nine cases linked to Allied Pinnacle bakery in Altona.

Ballarat butcher, Sinclair Meat, is also closed after a worker tested positive, and two cases are linked to the Ambassador Hotel in Frankston.

Four cases are also linked to Werribee Mercy Hospital, plus two cases linked to Ballarat Health Service.

Other cases currently linked to key outbreaks include:

• 198 cases linked to Bertocchi Smallgoods, Thomastown;

• 165 cases linked to Somerville Retail Services, Tottenham;

• 121 cases linked to JBS Brooklyn;

• 92 cases linked to Melbourne Health Royal Park Campus;

• 83 cases linked to Australian Lamb Company, Colac;

• 60 cases linked to Woolworths Distribution Centre, Mulgrave;

• 45 cases linked to the Linfox warehouse, Truganina;

• 45 cases linked to Nino Early Learning Centre, Bundoora;

• 38 cases linked to Golden Farms Poultry, Breakwater;

• 33 cases linked to Respite Services Australia, Moonee Ponds;

• 30 cases linked to Ingham’s, Thomastown; and

• 20 cases linked to Jayco, Dandenong.

CORONAVIRUS CASES LINKED TO NOTORIOUS CRIME-RIDDLED HOTEL

media_cameraProtective services officers speak to a woman at Southern Cross station. Picture: William West/AFPWHAT THE REPRODUCTION NUMBER NEEDS TO BE

Victoria’s reproduction number is hovering just less than one, with Prof Sutton saying numbers were “headed in the right direction”.

“That 0.9 needs to be at 0.5. I think stage four restrictions will lead us in that direction … We need people to isolate from the first symptoms, the scratchy throat, the runny nose, the beginnings of a cold, the very beginnings of a fever,” he said.

“That is also part of the equation and getting transmission down.”

Prof Sutton also expressed his concerns of effective mask use, especially in workplaces.

“It’s clear that people have taken up masks really, really well. At the times that it’s most required, you can see lots of people wearing masks in lots of settings, he said.

“But people in the workplace, in high-risk transmission areas at all times, wearing those masks — are they taking masks off at teatime, at a break? And then sitting very close to workmates?

“The numbers will let us make some estimates about how well masks have been used but it’s a critical thing.”

media_cameraPolice check a driver’s details. Picture: William West/AFPDOZENS FINED FOR CURFEW BREACHES

Dozens of people were sprung disobeying Melbourne’s nightly curfew on Friday.

Victoria Police issued a total of 197 fines to people breaching lockdown restrictions in the past 24 hours.

Thirty-nine people were fined for not wearing a mask, 62 people were fined for curfew breaches and six people were fined at vehicle checkpoints.

Among those fined was a man on a city-bound train more than 5km from home who told police he needed to “get some fresh air”.

Another man who was found at a service station at 1am without a mask told police he needed cigarettes and lollies.

Mr Andrews slammed people who were making “selfish choices”, warning that just one person could spark a new cluster.

“Every one of those breaches can trigger a chain of transmission that can finish up with hundreds of people infected,” he said.

GOVT CHANGES RULES ON ANIMAL SHELTERS

The State Government has reversed its stance banning public access to animal shelters.

Victorians will be able to travel to shelters to adopt pets as well as collect lost animals under stage four restrictions, as long as they return directly home afterwards.

The Lost Dogs Home on Friday expressed concern about the now-rescinded ban, warning vulnerable animals would be left without loving homes and the shelter overrun.

The government reminded pet owners that measures should be taken to ensure social distancing and hygiene standards, when going to collect their animals.

“You should contact the location to arrange an appointment and ensure you can follow their processes for reducing the risk of transmitting coronavirus,” a government spokesperson said.

“If you are picking up a pet you should keep at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others and practice good hygiene, including washing your hands regularly.”

Face coverings must also be worn and the 8pm-5m curfew adhered to during collection.

– Rhiannon Down

WHY INJECTING ROOM REMAINS OPEN

The supervised injecting room in North Richmond remains open past Melbourne’s 8pm curfew, with drug users flocking to the area while the city is under strict lockdown.

Mr Andrews addressed the issue on Saturday, saying it was “no different to a hospital or emergency department”.

“The notion of changing those arrangements and effectively seeing less people able to access the care and support that they receive at that dedicated facility, will mean we go back to the sort of intolerable circumstances that saw us establish the supervised injecting facility,” he said

“And that was dozens and dozens of people dying alone in laneways. I don’t think that would be a very good outcome.”

FEARS FOR NURSES AMID PPE SHORTAGE

Victoria is facing a dangerous shortage of protective equipment needed in the fight against coronavirus prompting calls for urgent state government action.

A damning new survey has found one in five registered nurses did not have new and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) available to them each shift.

The report by the Australian College of Nursing, Australia’s peak nursing organisation, followed a survey of 750 nurses from Victoria’s public and private hospitals.

It revealed many nurses were feeling frightened and vulnerable.

“There’s a real scare factor among nurses being worried about taking the virus home to their families,” The Australian College of Nursing chief executive Kylie Ward said.

“When you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of nurses being sent home in isolation or contracting the virus it’s a major issue. It’s alarming. No clinician should contract an infectious disease.

“There should be enough protection in place.”

But Mr Andrews on Saturday morning said Victoria’s PPE supplies are “adequate”, with the state’s stockpile including 68 million gloves, 19 million surgical masks and 2 million face shields.

“I can confirm that last night … we approved a whole lot of additional orders,” he said.

“We have all of those stockpiles and more.”

Read the full story here .

MELBOURNE RESTAURATEUR’S BRUTAL VIRUS AD

A prominent Melbourne restaurateur has taken out a newspaper ad taking aim at multiple levels of governments’ “shameful” coronavirus response.

The owner of reputable St Kilda restaurant Di Stasio Citta, Rinaldo Di Stasio, placed the ad in The Australian calling out authorities for abandoning the hospitality industry in its time of need.

In the full-page ad, which features a blunt open letter, Mr Di Stasio said while the hospitality industry is a major employer and economic contributor, other than JobKeeper, it has not received any other material support.

In his withering rebuke of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Scott Morrison, Mr Di Stasio said outside the wage subsidy payments, financial support remained “nearly non-existent”.

media_cameraRinaldo Di Stasio and his partner Mallory Wall at their restaurant, Di Stasio Citta. Picture: Luis Enrique Ascui

“The neglect of temporary visa workers, skilled taxpaying members of our workforce is not only shameful, it will cripple hospitality and tourism moving forward,” he wrote in the ad.

In his rallying cry to protect restaurants, cafes and bars brought to their knees as a result of the pandemic, Mr Di Stasio went on to outline a five-point plan.

It included extending JobKeeper at the full rate of $1500 to Victorians beyond the September deadline, and for temporary visa holders, who can form the bulk of staff in many hospitality workplaces.

Currently, these workers are shut out from the JobKeeper and Jobseeker programs.

“Our temporary visa holders have had the bone pointed at them,” the restaurant’s recent Instagram post read, reiterating that neglecting these “skilled workers” will severely impact the industry.

Read the full story here.

media_cameraTraffic on the Tullamarine Freeway this week. Picture: Andrew Henshaw FLIGHT BAN EXTENDED, HOTEL QUARANTINE REMAINS CLOSED

International flights to Melbourne have been suspended until October 24, meaning the state’s problem-plagued hotel quarantine system is effectively closed.

The decision was made at Friday’s national cabinet meeting as caps on overseas arrivals were locked in for each capital city.

It comes as Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien has applied for leave to appear before the state’s hotel quarantine inquiry.

It is understood a high-powered legal team has already been engaged to act for Mr O’Brien, who will appear as himself on behalf of the Liberal Party.

The inquiry has requested further submissions before chair Jennifer Coate makes a decision.

Counsel assisting Tony Neal, QC, has flagged evidence already available to the inquiry suggested a link between many of the cases of coronavirus identified in Victoria’s second wave and the bungled quarantine program.

Shadow Attorney-General Ed O’Donohue said the failed program was the largest public policy failure in Victoria’s history.

media_cameraRydges Hotel in Carlton was used to quarantine returned travellers. Picture: Wayne Taylor

“While the Andrews Labor Government is spending millions on lawyers to protect itself, it’s vital that an external and alternative perspective is at the table and can be heard. With lives lost, the economy ruined and unprecedented restrictions on personal freedom, Victorians deserve the truth about how this went so wrong,” he said.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Friday that he was “devastated” by the crisis and that Daniel Andrews needed to explain the “significant failures” and the “mistakes made”.

Mr O’Donohue said anything less than full transparency and accountability would be seen by the community as a whitewash.

The first witnesses were to testify before the inquiry this week, but the hearing was delayed because of stage four restrictions.

Ms Coate said many documents filed to the inquiry had also been submitted late, with broad claims for confidentiality which would take time to assess.

It is understood serious concerns have been raised about documents filed by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, which was central to establishing the quarantine program.

Victorian police conduct Operation Sentinel checks on business and homes during the stage four lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic

KMART WAREHOUSE STAFF STOP WORK

A coronavirus case at a Kmart distribution centre in Melbourne’s west has prompted dozens of staff members to stop work.

A casual worker from a labour hire firm tested positive after working at the Truganina site, which is owned by Logistics company Toll.

The warehouse was closed down on Thursday and cleaned before being reopened on Friday.

However multiple workers were unhappy with the safety protocols in place and walked off the job on Friday.

United Workers Union Logistics Director Matt Toner said staff were not given information on which department the infected employee was working in.

Mr Toner said the level of contract tracing at the site was “disturbingly inadequate”.

The concerns led to 50 workers walking off the job, Mr Toner said.

media_cameraA lone walker along the Yarra River during the stage four lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

“Shockingly, Toll has refused to consult with health and safety representatives,” he said.

“They have left their workforce in the dark, refusing to answer questions about the latest case.”

A Toll spokeswoman said the worker who contracted coronavirus was last at the facility last Friday July 31.

“We have completed close contact tracing and a small number of potential workplace close contacts are self-isolating and getting tested as a precautionary measure,” the spokeswoman said.

“An infectious clean of the facility has been undertaken.”

She added that employees and their families were being offered every possible support.

– Josh Fagan

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