By Brendan Rees
Victoria’s confirmed coronavirus cases have continued to climb, according to the state’s latest health data.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) figures revealed Victoria’s tally now stood at 968 – an increase of 51 from Tuesday 31 March.
As of 31 March, 28 people had been confirmed as testing positive to the virus in Casey. In nearby local government areas, Greater Dandenong remained at nine cases while Cardinia had seven cases.
Four people have already died in Victoria, many more are in hospital or self-isolating at home.
There are 39 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission. More than 47,000 tests have been conducted to date.
Currently 32 people are in hospital – including six patients in intensive care – and 343 people have recovered.Of the total 968 cases, there have been 771 in Melbourne and 183 in regional Victoria.
Meanwhile, Victoria’s health system will receive a massive $1.3 billion injection to quickly establish an extra 4000 ICU beds in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The State Government will secure the ICU equipment, staff and space the health system needs to meet the expected surge in case load at the peak of the pandemic.
At present, Victoria’s public and private health services have about 450 fully equipped and staffed ICU beds, but “we know that won’t be nearly enough if the spread of the coronavirus continues” the State Government said.
To be ready, the State Government has ordered $1.2 billion worth of equipment and consumables it needs, as well as investing over $65 million for capital works and workforce training – securing record capacity for the intensive care system.
Under new restrictions agreed by National Cabinet, gatherings of more than two people are now banned, except for members of immediate households and for work or education purposes.
Premier Daniel Andrews said there are four reasons for Victorians to leave their home: food and supplies, medical care and care giving, exercise, and work or education.
“The more people ignore the rules and ignore the advice, the more this virus will continue to spread,” he said.
Police have strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on the spot fines, including up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 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.
On Monday 30 March, Victoria Police fined a Fitzroy licensed restaurant $9913 for failing to adhere to directives designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.
State Liquor Unit members visited the restaurant and observed alcohol being served to patrons seated inside the restaurant which is only allowed to provide a take-away service.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said these are unprecedented times. The threat of coronavirus to public health is real and everyone must take social distancing seriously.
“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.