WHILE ‘social distancing’ and ‘stay home’ provisions are still in force across the state, the shopping centre of Wonthaggi was still quite a busy place to be on Monday this week.

But underscoring the seriousness of the situation, the Department of Human Services (DHHS) updated its coronavirus figures this morning showing that there are 1158 cases in Victoria, a rise of 23 from yesterday but with South Gippsland (3) and Bass Coast (2) both static.

DHHS reports that a man in his 50s died in hospital yesterday and a woman in her 80s died at home, taking the number of people who have died in Victoria from coronavirus to 10.

The total number of cases includes 608 men and 550 women. Cases range in age from babies to their early nineties.

There are 88 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission.

This number, according to Bass Coast Health CEO is the key number for authorities and why testing has now been expanded to anyone with fever or respiratory complaints.

You can book in for a COVID-19 test locally, by phoning 6571 3333, or go to the Bass Coast Health website at https://www.gha2.net.au/bch

More than 57,000 tests have been conducted to date statewide.

Currently 45 people are in hospital in Victoria – including 11 patients in intensive care – and 620 people have recovered.

212 COVID-19 cases in regional Victoria

Of the total 1158 cases, there have been 940 in Melbourne and 212 in regional Victoria.

A number of cases remain under investigation. Victoria’s testing criteria for COVID-19 have been broadened to include people whose employment and contact with the broader public may place them at higher risk of exposure to any virus which maybe circulating in the community.

If someone in the following categories displays clinical symptoms – a fever or acute respiratory infection – they will now be tested for COVID-19.

Others who can be tested include:

  • Childcare and early childhood education • Primary or secondary schools; and
  • Firefighters who are emergency medical responders
  • People aged 65 years and older

The full testing criteria list is available at https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/about/news-andevents/healthalerts/2019-Coronavirus-disease–COVID-19

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the changes are aimed at striking a balance between identifying cases that are not linked to known travel or other risks and maintaining current suppression efforts targeted at returned travellers and contacts of current cases.

“The number of community-acquired cases contracted from an unknown source are continuing to rise – the expansion of the testing criteria will allow us to get a clearer picture of how much the virus is circulating,” Professor Sutton said.

“These new criteria do not mean our stage 3 restrictions should be relaxed. The reverse is true, we must continue these actions to flatten the curve.”

Our contact tracing of all known cases will continue so that anyone who has been exposed to a confirmed case completes the mandatory 14 days in self-isolation. There are only four reasons for Victorians to leave their home: food and supplies, medical care and care giving, exercise, and work or education.

All people arriving from any international destination must also self-isolate for 14 days as per Commonwealth Government direction.

All travellers returning from overseas to Victoria will be placed in enforced quarantine for the self-isolation period of 14 days. Police have strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on the spot fines, including up to $1652 for individuals and up to $9913 for businesses.

Under the State of Emergency people who don’t comply could also be taken to court and receive a fine of up to $20,000.

Companies face fines of up to $100,000.

“Social distancing will save lives. Everyone needs to comply with restrictions in place to keep yourself, your loved ones and the whole community safe,” Professor Sutton said.

“Our message is clear: if you can stay home, you must stay home.” The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has a hotline for public information on COVID-19, which is 1800 675 398. Large numbers of calls can result in some delays and we ask Victorians for their patience as we work to manage the volume.

Further information is also available at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus Media inquiries: Department of Health & Human Services Media Unit (03) 9096 8860 or press@dhhs.vic.gov.au Cases by Local Government Areas Please find the latest COVID-19 notifications by local government areas.

DHHS has clarified confusion at the weekend over four people testing positive in Bass Coast, at the Wonthaggi hospital and the Health Hub at Phillip Island: “Notifications are made according to place of residence, not where the infection was acquired.”

Therefore, Bass Coast’s number remains at two according to the ‘place of residence’ listed by the person who tested ‘positive’. It remains unclear whether the four people are isolating locally or at their registered place of residence.