Tragic future of Victorian virus crisis
It was the word on Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton's lips as he addressed the state's "disappointing and concerning" record number of 428 COVID-19 cases on Friday and the tragic deaths of three more people, bringing the state's toll to 32.
"We have not turned the corner here," Professor Sutton said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was "very sad" to share the news and described it as a "particularly challenging and very, very sad time" for the loved ones of the victims.
"I wish to express my condolences to their families," he said.
"And we have had other families who have experienced tragedy in recent days as well. This is a serious situation. We are in the fight of our lives."
Acting federal chief health officer Paul Kelly said he was also "hopeful" about the situation in Victoria improving but noted "this is a very dangerous time".
Australia has recorded 116 deaths from COVID-19 in 20 weeks however 10 of those fatalities - close to nine per cent of the national toll and about a third of the Victorian toll - occurred in the past week.
Two of the victims were aged in their 70s, six were in their 80s and two were in their 90s.
They all died in hospital in Victoria where the state is in the grip of its second coronavirus surge, overtaking New South Wales on July 11 to have more coronavirus cases than any other jurisdiction and doubling its case total in the 12 days from July 5 to July 17.
"That makes 116 Australians that have died of this illness so far, and brings to mind that this is not just numbers," Professor Kelly said on Friday afternoon.
"These are real people with families and friends."
One of the victims was 90-year-old great-grandfather Alf Jordan who was a resident of Glendale Aged Care in Werribee, in Melbourne's southwest.
"We were blessed to have him for as long as we did, but he died alone, and no one should have to die alone," his granddaughter Gabrielle Cordwell told the ABC.
"There was no one there to comfort him if he was frightened."
Prof Kelly reiterated COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease which can cause serious illness.
"Especially in elderly people but not only elderly people," he said.
"Sometimes that illness can last for months. And sometimes, as we have seen, can lead to very serious illness requiring intensive care treatment in hospital and even death."
The majority of Australia's coronavirus deaths have been in people aged in their 70s to 90s but 17 out of the 116 people have been aged 42 to 69.
Prof Kelly said there are 126 cases in hospitals nationwide including 32 in intensive care.
As of Friday, hundreds of cases were linked to outbreaks in Victorian aged care facilities and hospitals including 38 at Menarock Life Aged Care in Essendon, 36 at Estia Health in Ardeer and 23 at Glendale Aged Care facility in Werribee.
Prof Sutton said dozens of individuals from the 428 new cases "will require hospitalisation".
"Tragically, there will be several who require intensive care support and a number of people will die and whenever we have a day of these numbers, that is the case," he said.
"So it has to turn around."
THE DAYS TO COME
More than 200 new virus cases were announced on six of the past seven days in Victoria, totalling 1786 for the week, including cases reclassified by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Prof Sutton said on Friday he had "spoken for some days about a hope that numbers stabilise".
"But (I) also said there is no guarantee of that," the Victorian chief health officer said.
"It does reflect behaviours and mobility from 10 or more days ago and so, of course, there is a hope that the numbers stabilise over the coming days, towards the end of this week.
"That is my hope, that no one is being complacent here, and we are all thinking about the additional measures that may be required if it does not turn around so we are not just banking on the idea that if we wait long enough those numbers will stabilise and drop.
"We must bear in mind any additional measures that are important to help control the numbers.
"There are a number of outbreaks that are ongoing. New cases linked to those outbreaks are partly responsible for driving up the numbers, (and) when you've got so many outbreaks that help amplify transmission, they obviously contribute to the increase in numbers."
As of Friday, Victoria had recorded 5165 cases and 2462 of those were considered active.
Prof Kelly said it "may not be at the peak yet".
"It does take at least two weeks for anything we do today to change that transmission," he said.
"It will be two weeks until we find whether that (lockdown) has worked … and so we are still within that two-week period of this particular situation in Melbourne, so we will just have to wait and see."
He described the record large case numbers as "disturbing" but said there are signs that the lockdown of people in Greater Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire is making an impact.
"We do have good indications that those mobility restrictions and movement restrictions around Melbourne, in particular, are working and people are taking notice," he said on Friday.
"We know that people are taking notice of the physical distancing rules, and we hope that everyone is remembering about hygiene, both in the way you cough and sneeze but frequently washing your hands.
"These things are absolutely crucial for us getting on top of the virus, and it does take a couple of weeks before we see those signs.
"So I remain hopeful about the situation in Victoria but please, take note of everything that is being asked of you from the Victorian government."
Prof Kelly said it was a "really crucial time" for people to "do what is necessary".
"We can get through this," he said.
DEATHS DURING A TRAGIC WEEK
There have been 32 deaths from COVID-19 reported in Victoria including 10 this week.
July 17: A woman in her 80s, a man in his 70s and a man in his 80s all died in hospital.
July 16: Two men in their 80s died in hospital.
July 15: A woman in her 90s died in hospital.
July 14: A woman in her 80s and a man in his 80s both died in hospital.
July 13: No deaths reported.
July 12: A man in his 70s passed away in hospital overnight.
July 11: A man in his 90s passed away in hospital overnight.
Originally published as Tragic future of Victorian virus crisis