627 new cases, eight deaths confirmed in Victoria

627 coronavirus cases and seven new deaths have been confirmed on Friday, while some Victorians are refusing to self-isolate with more than 100 people who tested positive to COVID-19 not found at home during checks by officials.

Another death was reported on Thursday night, and included in Friday's announcement of eight deaths.

Four of the deaths are linked to aged facilities.

A total of 112 deaths have been confirmed in Victoria to date.

An emergency department doctor from the Northern Hospital, aged in his 30s, was admitted to an intensive care unit with coronavirus last night.

There are 27 Victorians in intensive care, while 928 cases are currently linked to aged care.

Australian Defence Force personnel from Adelaide have jetted in to Melbourne.
Australian Defence Force personnel from Adelaide have jetted in to Melbourne.

ONE IN FOUR NOT AT HOME WHEN ADF KNOCK
The Premier said one in four Victorians who should have been self-isolating were not at home when doorknocked by the ADF.

Daniel Andrews said 100 such incidents had been referred to Victoria Police.

"It is simply unacceptable for you to have this virus and not be at home, if you are out doing other things," he said.

"A handful will be out getting fresh air - that does not explain these numbers, (which) go well and truly beyond anything like that."

Tougher restrictions loom in Victoria. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
Tougher restrictions loom in Victoria. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

CRISIS TALKS HELD BETWEEN PREMIER AND PM
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Daniel ­Andrews held crisis talks on Thursday night over introducing tougher new restrictions on Melbourne.

After 723 new cases and 13 deaths - including 10 in crisis-hit nursing homes - on the worst day of the pandemic, the national medical expert panel is understood to have considered the need for sweeping new restrictions to further ­reduce movement.

A New Zealand-style lockdown, which saw the closure of all businesses except for essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations and healthcare, was discussed as one option.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said earlier in the day that the panel wanted to further limit the movement of people while protecting­ ­essential industries and supply chains.

The Herald Sun understands Victorian authorities have also considered new rules to limit people travelling beyond their immediate neighbourhood for supplies.

Mr Morrison said on Thursday that the spread of the virus was "of great concern".

A woman runs along a deserted Southbank in Melbourne on Thursday. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
A woman runs along a deserted Southbank in Melbourne on Thursday. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

"We can't rule out further restrictions or limitations to stem this outbreak," he said.

Mr Andrews has repeatedly identified transmission of the virus in workplaces as the "biggest driver" of the worsening second wave. He warned earlier this week that "next steps may include having to close a number of these industries".

Prof Kelly refused to detail the advice that the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee had provided, but he indicated it was crucial to restrict non-­essential movement as "the virus generally spreads with people".

"It's people that move, not the virus," Prof Kelly said.

He said the panel had considered solutions from other countries.

"Many of the people who are continuing to contract the virus and to have contact with others and thereby increase that community transmission are indeed working in essential industries," Prof Kelly said.

"That's really one of the key messages … about what else do we need to consider about movement restrictions in a way that does not interfere too much with people's lives and livelihoods, as well as supply chains."

Earlier this month, Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said all options were on the table, but a New Zealand-style lockdown would not necessarily fix ­Victoria's ­problems.

"We have to understand what the dynamics of transmission are in Victoria at this point in time," Prof Sutton said.

"It may well be that it's an awful impost on the economy and on people's lives with no material benefit if we go to a New Zealand-style lockdown.

"We have to understand where the transmission's occurring and what measures will be most effective in reducing it. We have to be targeted in terms of seeing where the ­issues are and addressing them directly."

Describing it as a "tough day", Mr Andrews announced on Thursday that the wearing of masks outside the home would be made mandatory across Victoria, and six more local government areas would face additional restrictions.

He said the mandatory mask-wearing policy would be extended to the regions from Monday, as regional cases grew to 255.

People living in Colac Otway, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains and Queenscliffe will no longer be able to visit others or have guests at home, from 11.59pm Thursday night.

Despite it being Victoria's worst day so far, Prof Sutton was not at Thursday's press conference, an absence noted by Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien.

"It's very disappointing. Brett Sutton has been a trooper through this, but this was a day where he needed to answer questions about why his team was so under-resourced coming into this pandemic," Mr O'Brien said.

It was confirmed there were 877 active cases and 57 deaths linked to aged-care facilities.

Mr O'Brien warned that the spike in overall numbers clearly showed Victoria could no longer handle the situation, and called for the Commonwealth to take over.

"We need the help of ­experts from the federal government," he said. "Not just boots on the ground, but strategic direction."

Mr Morrison welcomed the move to expand restrictions ­regionally.

"We have been in this lockdown now for some weeks, and we are not getting the results we would hope for," he said in Canberra on Thursday ­morning.

"And as a result, the further measures that are taken are certainly necessary."

 

TWELVE WORKERS TEST POSITIVE AT MELBOURNE BUILDING SITE

The Premier Tower building site in Spencer St, being developed by Multiplex, has shut down after 12 workers tested positive for coronavirus.

A further 20 close or casual contact workers have been identified and the site was immediately shut down for a full hospital grade clean.

All of those workers who were identified as being in close or casual contact with the positive cases were sent home and ordered to get tested and to self-isolate until they received their test results.

An Incolink testing bus and medical team also went to the site to offer tests to workers who were asymptomatic.

A joint decision between Multiplex and the unions was made to shut the site.

- James Mottershead

 

VIRUS VICTIMS' HEARTBREAKING PLEA

Jordan Petrovskiendured months of neglect before contracting COVID-19 at Epping Gardens Aged Care.

His family are now praying for a miracle as the 83-year-old's weak and undernourished body tries to fight the virus in hospital.

Susan Nedanovski said the way her father had been treated had broken her heart.

"We trusted (Epping Gardens) to give him the best possible care. I don't even know if he will pull through," she said.

"The stuff that is going on in there is unbelievable."

New damning allegations of mistreatment by staff have emerged as more Epping Gardens residents were evacuated to hospital on Thursday. Photos and videos taken by Mr Petrovski's family show him slumped on a plastic bed without blankets or sheets and wandering half-naked and confused around the hallways in search of clothing.

Susan Nedanovski, daughter of Jordan Petrovski – a COVID-19 patient from Epping Gardens Aged Care. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Susan Nedanovski, daughter of Jordan Petrovski – a COVID-19 patient from Epping Gardens Aged Care. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

"It broke my heart when I saw him laying there with the bed not made," Ms Nedanovski said.

"He was sick and I had to physically pick him off the bed and put him on a chair.

"The staff kept saying they couldn't get a doctor until 2pm. I don't know if they even checked on him that night."

After a stand-off over control of the facility on Wednesday, Austin Health staff took clinical control on Thursday, although Scott Morrison said the situation was not yet "fully stable".

Active COVID-19 cases linked to aged care rose to 877 on Thursday, with 57 deaths.

The Prime Minister said there had been "incredibly distressing" scenes in aged-care homes including Epping Gardens which were "the product of a very severe crisis". He warned providers would have their accreditation altered if they failed to ensure the appropriate use of personal protective equipment. "There have been some significant failings," Mr Morrison said.

Carmela Paterno, 87, has phoned her daughter begging to be freed from Epping Gardens.

Angela said her mum had been locked in her room for weeks and was quickly deteriorating.

"On the phone she cries 'please no, no get me out of here'," Angela said.

With so much time locked in her room, Ms Paterno is losing mobility and she split her head open after she had a fall this week.

Carmela Paterno, 87, begged to be freed from Epping Gardens Aged Care
Carmela Paterno, 87, begged to be freed from Epping Gardens Aged Care

"She was bleeding and an ambulance never came," Angela said. "They need to get her out of that room and into another safe place or a hospital. My mum's friends who have sat beside her have died. She hasn't got COVID-19 but she will if she stays."

Critically low staff levels have placed an enormous strain on Victoria's hard-hit aged-care system.

Angela claimed one worker was assigned to 47 residents at Epping Gardens Aged Care amid the chaos this week.

With the phones constantly ringing out, Sue Cashman has been unable to reach her 95-year-old mother Peggy Shallcross.

"It is life and death. I want my mum looked after. You wouldn't treat your dog like this," Ms Cashman said.

"You wouldn't read about this in the third world, let alone Melbourne."

Epping Gardens resident Peggy Shallcross
Epping Gardens resident Peggy Shallcross

Ms Cashman said her mother had not been fed properly since the outbreak. "She is not getting fed and she has been showering herself although she is a severe falls risk," she said.

 

 

Ms Cashman feared her mum had been exposed to COVID-19 after 10 other residents on her floor tested positive to the virus.

"I am concerned she's going to get it and it will finish her off and kill her," she said.

"The sad part is no one has sat them down and said how dangerous this is. They can't comprehend it."

Meanwhile the family of St Basil's resident Fotini Atzarakis, 77, are in mourning after she died of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Her daughter Kathy Bourinaris said it was like a "rollercoaster ride that no one wants to go on".

"For the last 10 days of her life, no one could be by her side in the hospital," Ms Bourinaris said.

"She would have been terrified.

"She was fragile as it was, she would have felt so alone. We were distraught."

Mrs Atzarakis suffered from Parkinson's disease and her family, including loving husband George, moved her to the Fawkner facility hoping to provide the best care possible.

"We thought she would be safe and taken care of - but did we get that bloody wrong," her daughter said.

"This should not have happened. This was preventable. She was in for one and a half weeks before all hell broke loose.

"It has been a nightmare. I don't even want to drive past that hellhole.

"The government keeps saying 'we must protect the vulnerable' but it will not leave my head. They have done nothing."

 

 

 

 

GIRLS' ACTIVITY ANOTHER VICTIM OF LOCKDOWN

The coronavirus lockdown could have a lasting impact on girls' sport, with research suggesting many teenage girls may not return to playing once restrictions are lifted.

A survey of 1000 Australian teenage girls by financial services company Suncorp found 26 per cent would not return to team sport.

A quarter of those said the reason was they had lost interest and did not want to participate anymore.

The study focused on junior girls' sport and the impact of the pandemic. It found 67 per cent of girls were less active during lockdown.

While sports seasons were on hold, 86 per cent of girls said their screen time on mobile devices increased and 63 per cent were spending more time on social media.

Of those eager to get back to team sports, 85 per cent of girls said the main thing they missed was playing with friends and teammates.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they felt happier when playing team sports.

Australian Diamonds netballer Gretel Bueta said it was important girls were encouraged to stay involved in organised sports.

"Despite young women being at risk of leaving their chosen team sport, they clearly recognise the positive impact it can have on their lives," she said.

Bueta said sport helped develop skills such as perseverance, resilience and confidence.

"I encourage Australia to come together at this essential moment to ensure we don't lose young women from team sport," she said.

Suncorp's insurance product and portfolio chief executive Lisa Harrison said sport had the ability to bring people and communities together, with these connections were more important than ever.

"We know the last few months have been tough for our local sporting groups, and these latest findings reinforce the importance of spotlighting the power of community sport and the role it plays in building confidence and local connections," she said.

- Josh Fagan

 

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Originally published as More than 600 cases, up to seven deaths expected



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