State records lowest daily COVID-19 cases in over a month

UPDATE: As of today, there have been 148 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours and eight lives lost. 

EARLIER: New daily COVID-19 cases have dropped to the lowest they’ve been since the start of July as regional Victoria reaches the halfway point of stage three restrictions.

A total 116 new cases were recorded on Monday — the lowest since July 5. The new cases brought Victoria’s total to 18,330, 3731 of which are active.

A further 15 Victorians died overnight, bringing the total number of deaths from the virus in the state to 430.

Those who died were aged in their 80s, 90s and one in their 100s. All 15 fatalities were linked to aged care outbreaks.

As of Monday there were 232 active cases in regional Victoria and 3332 in metropolitan Melbourne.

Regional Victoria’s case numbers have dropped significantly since stage three restrictions came into effect from August 5.

The Central Goldfields Shire has had two cases, one of which is still active. Pyrenees (two total cases), Loddon (four), Mount Alexander (10) and Hepburn (two) shires no longer have any active cases. Ballarat has 61 total cases with six active.

In Monday’s press conference Premier Daniel Andrews said falling case numbers, particularly in major regional centres, is the “trend” he wanted to see.

“The active case numbers (in regional Victoria) continue to fall and that is the direct product of localised public health teams and the good work of regional Victorians, and of course people coming forward and getting tested,” he said.

“We’re very grateful to all of those regional Victorians who, even with the mildest of symptoms, have come forward to get tested.

“These are very pleasing numbers, there are 88 active cases in Greater Geelong, 24 in Greater Bendigo... That is a much improved position compared to 10 or 14 days ago.

“That should not promote in any sense that this is done, that you can be complacent in any community, but this is certainly the trend we wanted to see.”

Regional Victoria’s stage three restrictions — expected to last six weeks — will come to an end on September 16, while the Victoria-wide State of Emergency will expire on September 13.

The State of Emergency allows rules to be enforced including the wearing of face masks in public, restrictions on the number of patrons allowed in places like restaurants and cafes, and fines for disobeying restrictions — it does not relate to which restrictions are in place.

The State of Emergency has continued to be extended since it first came into effect on March 16, and is only able to operate for six months.

Mr Andrews said legislative changes will be made to extend the duration of the State of Emergency for a further 12 months.

“Before September 13 we will extend the State of Emergency provisions,” he said.

“The Public Health and Wellbeing Act provides for a maximum of six months for the running of that State of Emergency. We will extend that for a maximum of a further 12 months, so a total of 18 months.

“The State of Emergency is the legal instrument that allows, for instance, rules about face masks, rules about COVIDsafe work plans, density limits in restaurants and cafes, or things like a person who tested positive being required to isolate at thome.

“We simply can’t have those important rules and the legal framework that sits behind them end on September 13 because this virus won’t have ended by then.”