'Past the peak': Promising signs from Victoria as latest new cases revealed

Author
Newstalk ZB / news.com.au,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Aug 2020, 5:08PM
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media last week. Photo / AP

'Past the peak': Promising signs from Victoria as latest new cases revealed

Author
Newstalk ZB / news.com.au,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Aug 2020, 5:08PM

Victoria has recorded 278 new coronavirus cases and eight deaths in the past 24 hours.

It signals a big drop in cases and deaths from yesterday's total of 410 new infections and 21 deaths – which marked the state's deadliest ever day.

The last time Victoria had a case number this low was on July 29, when there were 266 new cases.

Today's total marks a dramatic decrease from last Wednesday's peak of 725 new cases.
Victoria recorded 331 new cases on Tuesday. There were 322 new cases recorded on Monday.

One of the nation's leading epidemiologists says it looks like Victoria is on its way to recovery.

Professor Catherine Bennett, who's the Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University in Melbourne, said it "really looks like we are past the peak now".

She attributed this optimism to the fact that active cases dropped for the first time in the state yesterday.

She said that "all being well" the state will see much milder restrictions by Christmas.

"The main driver of the large numbers recently has been outbreaks and so, you know, the fact that the suppression of community transmission helps preventing seeding new outbreaks really changes the dynamics of the numbers we are seeing every day because we are now not replacing every case," she told the Today show.

"For the first time yesterday we saw our active case numbers flatten and start to tip down.

"So hopefully this – this pipeline, if you like, of people being exposed then becoming ill and possibly also triggering workplace outbreaks is now shifting so that we are starting to close down those existing outbreaks."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said Australians should be "cautiously optimistic" that Victoria's lockdown is working.

"We have seen the total number of new cases continue to decline over the past week since stage four restrictions were introduced in Melbourne – stage three restrictions right across Victoria," Professor Kidd told Today.

"But it is still early in the process. I think we have to wait and see what happens over the coming week just to make sure that downward slope continues over the days ahead."

Meanwhile, "pivotal" details of Victoria's botched quarantine system have emerged as reports contradict claims from Premier Daniel Andrews that help from the Australian Defence Force was not on offer.

Andrews has been accused of lying about whether there was ADF support available to supervise returned overseas travellers at the hotels, where lax controls are being blamed for the state's second wave of infections.

According to the Herald Sun, a team of 100 troops was in fact on standby to assist with the hotel quarantine on March 27, the day the program was locked in.

Defence records reportedly show the ADF had a standing offer available to Victoria to help with hotel quarantine, which authorities repeatedly said they did not need.

A Victoria Police plan for the programme even specifically excluded the use of Defence Force personnel, the paper reported.

Adding to the picture are reports in The Age that ADF officials were sent to Victoria to help plan the emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic a week before the hotel quarantine program was approved by the National Cabinet.

The paper reports Chief of Defence Angus Campbell instructed his Victorian-based liaison team on March 27 to make up to 100 personnel available to respond to any requests from the state.

However, the next day, a liaison officer reported back that Victoria Police was "well advanced" in its planning and preparation for quarantine and "this plan does not presently include or require ADF involvement".

There were also no requests for assistance over the next two months, according to regular "situational reports" prepared by Defence's liaison team working inside the state's State Emergency Centre.