Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said growing numbers of mystery coronavirus infections are the state’s ‘greatest challenge’ in controlling the deadly disease.
The state recorded 105 mystery cases among the 322 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, pushing the total number of cases that have come from an unknown source to 2,863.
Nineteen deaths were recorded in Victoria on Monday, becoming the deadliest day in Australia since the pandemic began, with the national death toll now 313.
Mr Andrews said the state would have ‘zero chance’ of reducing the impact of the virus if lockdown sanctions were ignored and unknown cases continued to grow.
Australian Defence Force members walk through Fitzroy Gardens on the deadliest day in Australia’s coronavirus pandemic after 19 deaths were recorded on Monday
‘It is really important that we all stay the course on this,’ he said.
‘(COVID-19) is a wicked enemy, it will do everything it can to wear you down and that is where it absolutely flourishes.’
Victoria’s 322 new cases on Monday was the lowest reported number in the state in almost two weeks, with Mr Andrews warning the mystery cases pose a significant risk for the community.
‘Even large numbers in known contained outbreaks are, to a certain extent, less significant than the smaller number of cases where we simply can’t find the circumstance or the point of origin,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘They’re the ones which are incredibly challenging from a containment point of view.’
Fourteen of the 19 deaths were residents in aged care. The people who died were one man in his 50s, one woman in her 60s, two men in their 70s, one man and six women in their 80s, and one male and seven women in their 90s.
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a closed business in Melbourne CBD on Monday
Victoria currently has 7,869 active coronavirus cases, including 1,065 among healthcare workers.
By contrast, the rest of Australia has less than 300 active cases combined.
The Australian Medical Association has said it is ‘extremely concerned’ after 590 healthcare workers contracted the virus over the past 14 days.
Nurses from Western Australia are due to touch down in Melbourne this week to provide reinforcements.
After peaking at 725 on August 5, Mr Andrews said the daily case totals appeared to be decreasing as a result of lockdowns and compulsory mask wearing.
‘We’re certainly seeing perhaps some greater stability that is a result of the cumulative impact of stage three,’ he said.
Mr Andrews warned growing numbers of mystery cases of coronavirus pose a significant risk for the community
But he warned Victorians ‘not to get ahead of ourselves’ and to keep following lockdown rules.
Metropolitan Melbourne has been under tough stage-four restrictions – including an 8pm curfew – for a week, while regional Victoria is under stage-three measures.
The lockdowns are in place until September 13.
‘It is still very early for us to be trying to measure the impacts of stage four, but we’re certainly seeing perhaps some greater stability that is a result of the cumulative impact of stage three,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘It’s bought some stability in the numbers, but we’ve got to drive them down so that we can reopen.’
Two pedestrians walk outside a deserted Flinders Street Station in Melbourne on Monday amid stage four restrictive measures in the city