Victoria has recorded another 63 cases.
Victoria has recorded another 63 cases.

63 new cases, five deaths amid alarming virus find

Victoria has recorded 63 new coronavirus cases on Sunday.

A further five deaths have also been reported in the past 24 hours.

Two of the deaths occurred before Saturday - the latest fatalities are all linked to aged-care outbreaks and include a woman in her 80s, three women in their 90s and one woman in her 100s.

It comes as Premier Daniel Andrews announced stage 4 restrictions would be extended in a further attempt to stop the spread of the virus. 

He said new modelling left no choice but to extend restrictions.

"This job, the great honour that I have to lead our state, every day is filled with decisions that are really, really difficult. Some of them are difficult because there are general and aspect they are a genuine 50-50 choice," he said.

"You are not quite certain which option you choose. Others are difficult because you know what the consequences of those decisions will be. Some of them are indeed heartbreaking. This is not a 50-50 choice."

Melbourne's stage four restrictions will be extended by two weeks and the curfew will be pushed back to 9pm, playgrounds reopened and picnics in a park allowed with one other person from next week.

Among the changes coming into effect from next Sunday, exercise will be increased to two hours per day - up from the current one hour per day.

Some minor changes will also be made to help struggling Victorians.

This includes a "bubble" for people who live alone and one another person, and social gatherings of two people or a household.

From September 28, there will be even more of a reprieve.

Schools and childcare will reopen for preps and grade twos, VCE and VCAL students, and specialist schools.


ALARMING VIRUS FIND IN APOLLO BAY

Health officials were on Saturday night trying to flush out undetected coronavirus cases in Victoria's southwest after finding traces of the deadly virus in Apollo Bay's sewer network.

The discovery has prompted calls for greater testing in the Apollo Bay region.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the result was of particular interest because there have been no known cases in the Apollo Bay community in recent weeks.

The state's wastewater coronavirus testing program has been operating since April and has uncovered multiple positive results, however the Apollo Bay result was the first to emerge from an area where there were no known active cases.

Professor Sutton said the finding did not necessarily mean there were cases of COVID-19 in the Apollo Bay community and could be from someone who was travelling through the town and took a toilet stop.

It could also be because someone who has previously tested positive and was continuing to "shed" the virus, Professor Sutton said.

Melburnians are set to endure additional weeks of lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Crosling
Melburnians are set to endure additional weeks of lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Crosling

He said it could take several weeks for someone to stop shedding the virus and further analysis was required to assess the significance of the preliminary result.

The finding would help disease detectives track the spread of the virus and implement strategies to minimise transmission preventing hot spots or clusters before they have time to develop.

"Wastewater testing provides an additional and complementary tool to the existing public health response and can provide early warning that coronavirus is in a community before traditional testing methods," Professor Sutton said.

He said until we have a highly effective and available vaccine, early detection and prevention were the keys to combating coronavirus.

The department has been working with Apollo Bay health services to ramp up testing in the area.

The Great Ocean Road Health - Otway Health testing clinic on McLachlan St, Apollo Bay, is open from 9am to 4pm seven days a week.

Anyone feeling unwell with even the mildest of symptoms was urged to get tested as soon as possible and isolate as they wait for their result.

The wastewater study includes 25 sampling sites; 12 in Melbourne, plus regional sewage treatment plants in Apollo Bay, Ararat, Ballarat, Bendigo, Colac, Geelong, Moe, Mt Martha, Shepparton, Sunbury, Traralgon, Warragul and Wonthaggi.

It is part of a national scheme co-ordinated by Water Research Australia bringing together health departments, water utilities, laboratories and researchers.

The Netherlands, Canada, Turkey and other countries have incorporated wastewater testing as part of their coronavirus surveillance.

South Australia health officials on Saturday identified two positives through their state's wastewater testing program.

DANDENONG POLICE STATION FORCED TO CLOSE

One of the state's biggest police stations has been forced shut by a coronavirus outbreak.

Dandenong police station closed last week after a number of employees tested positive to the highly contagious condition.

The Herald Sun understands there are up to six confirmed cases.

Many other sworn officers and other employees are off work and awaiting test results.

Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human services are doing contract tracing to find anyone who may have been exposed.

In July, Frankston police station was temporarily shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak.

A Victoria Police spokesman confirmed the temporary closure at Dandenong.

The spokesman said the numbers off work or who are being tested would not be released for operational reasons.

He said counter service was still available at the Narre Warren police station and that service delivery would not be affected.

"Victoria Police's priority first and foremost is to ensure the safety of its people and the community," the spokesman said.

"The station has been closed for a professional deep clean."

- Mark Buttler

BUSINESSES HOPE FOR A COMMON SENSE APPROACH

Getting the return to work right is crucial to avoid taking an even greater step back, the owner of a popular Windsor restaurant says.

Will Newton, the owner of Chapel St's Lover, said the government had been hammered about the pandemic, but they had been taking advice from epidemiologists who been preparing for a crisis like this their entire careers.

He hoped there would be a commonsense approach this time.

"I feel we have been treated a bit like it was our fault and we did some of this on purpose. So there is nowhere to reach out to. There is a bunch of things that were put into place last time, like the maximum per table rule - that seemed sort of redundant. But I understand they are talking to more industry this time."

Restaurateur Will Newton at Lover. Picture: Tony Gough
Restaurateur Will Newton at Lover. Picture: Tony Gough

Personal trainer Nathan Weidemann is hoping for some reprieve for his small business in the state government road map expected to be announced on Sunday because Victoria's fitness industry has been "completely decimated" by the pandemic.

"Our business has come to a grinding halt because of this," Mr Weidemann said.

For Mr Weidemann, owner of Vision Personal Training in Prahran, the necessary course of action is simple.

"We just need to open," he said.

Mr Weidemann said the complete closure of gyms under Premier Andrew's stage four restrictions made little sense because fitness plays a crucial role in people's wellbeing.

"It is about more than just exercise - our business is so important for people's mental health", Mr Weidemann said.

"People need us," he said.

- Andrew Koubaridis and Olivia Jenkins

 

Nathan Weidemann from Vision Personal Training. Picture: Tony Gough
Nathan Weidemann from Vision Personal Training. Picture: Tony Gough


MELBOURNE WOMAN ENDS SA COVID-FREE STREAK

A Melbourne woman travelling illegally through South Australia has ended the state's COVID-19-free streak.

The infectious woman, in her 20s, became the state's 464th case after 12 days of zero new patients and three days of SA being virus-free.

She illegally flew from Melbourne on Thursday on a Jetstar flight JQ774 bound for the Northern Territory with four young cousins, aged between 10 and 17.

- Andrew Hough



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