ENTERTAINMENT

Victoria suffers a surge in coronavirus deaths as 24 patients die


Victoria has reported 149 new coronavirus cases, killing an additional 24 people – the second deadliest day since the pandemic began.

The state recorded the highest number of COVID-19 deaths on August 17, with 25 deaths. The latest deaths bring the state toll to 463 and the national number to 550.

The new coronavirus infections on Wednesday mark the third day the daily cases fell below 150 – with 148 on Tuesday and 116 on Monday.

Despite the promising decline, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews is trying to extend the coronavirus state of emergency in Victoria past the September expiration date.

Victoria has reported 149 new coronavirus cases, killing an additional 24 people on Wednesday. Pictured: A woman wearing an oversized mask and feline earmuffs walks through Melbourne's business district on Tuesday

Pictured: A graphic shows Victoria's second wave of coronavirus infections from late June to August

Pictured: A graphic shows Victoria's second wave of coronavirus infections from late June to August

The state government wants to rewrite the law on public health and well-being so that a state of emergency can last up to 18 months.

Currently, a state of emergency can only last six months and expires on September 13, along with Melbourne's fourth stage ban and Victoria regional rules for stage three.

Without the extension, Andrews said the chief health officer would no longer be able to issue public health instructions to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

These include rules for quarantine, face masks, mass gatherings, and density limits for venues.

"These are a lot of the rules that we had to be particularly familiar with, and they are the kind of rules that may well hold here for a long time," said Andrews.

The prime minister said the state of emergency will not necessarily last for the entire 12 months.

"It is not extended more than four weeks at a time on advice," he said.

Two women walk through Melbourne's business district on Tuesday, during the fourth phase of the city

Two women walk through Melbourne's business district on Tuesday, during the fourth phase of the city

Victoria Police, Air Force and ADF personnel can be seen outside the Melbourne Museum in Melbourne during the 4th level lockdown

Victoria Police, Air Force and ADF personnel can be seen outside the Melbourne Museum in Melbourne during the 4th level lockdown

"If it only takes two, three, or four blocks of four weeks, that's the decision that would be made."

In order for the law to be passed by Parliament, Mr Andrews has to rely on Crossbench for support.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos advocated the government's case on Wednesday morning, stressing that this would not mean a continuation of the Melbourne level 4 restrictions and the level 3 measures for regional Victoria.

"Essentially, we will move from the fourth stage restrictions to falling off a cliff (without the extension) and have no rules, no restrictions, no measures to protect Victorians and save lives," she told ABC National.

"It's about taking some measures to hold us out until we have a vaccine."

Ms. Mikakos said Victoria was the only Australian state or territory with restrictions on state of emergency legislation.

She said the extension would mean the government could continue measures like staying positive for people who test positive.

Otherwise, Ms. Mikakos said there would be a "total vacuum".

Melbourne has been on Lockdown Level 4 since 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 2, while the rest of the state is subject to Leg 3 restrictions

Melbourne has been on Lockdown Level 4 since 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 2, while the rest of the state is subject to Leg 3 restrictions

But the extension proposal has sparked a massive backlash from both the community and politicians.

"I understand that people are scared and we will work incredibly hard to make sure people understand that this is an insurance policy," said Ms. Mikakos.

"We need to have a legal framework so that our chief health officer can issue legal orders to maintain some action and save lives."

It is requested that the government only extend the state of emergency for three or six months and report to parliament if this takes longer.

However, Ms. Mikakos said that checks and balances were already in place, noting that in the current state of emergency, the government must report to parliament every four weeks.

Pictured: Medical workers on a COVID-19 drive through the clinic in Ballarat, Victoria on August 21

Pictured: Medical workers on a COVID-19 drive through the clinic in Ballarat, Victoria on August 21

Pictured: A face mask construction worker walks outside Flinders Street Station on Tuesday

Pictured: A face mask construction worker walks outside Flinders Street Station on Tuesday

At least two-thirds of coronavirus-infected healthcare workers in Victoria contracted the disease while working.

The state government will step up security in hospitals, elderly care and disabled facilities to protect workers. However, top Australian medicine says it is "too little, too late".

New detailed research released Tuesday shows that at least 69 percent of health workers were infected with COVID-19 in the second wave in work environments.

As part of the state's updated strategy to address the issues, each health service in Victoria will introduce "personal protective equipment spotters" and investigate potential hotspots for aerosol transmission.

They will also be testing fit tests for high-risk personnel to ensure virus particles cannot enter safety equipment while a newly established PSA task force has recommended the use of N95 masks in emergency rooms, COVID-19 wards and elderly care centers.

Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne CBD is empty during Level 4 restrictions

Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne CBD is empty during Level 4 restrictions

Every health care provider across the state must also self-assess staff amenities to ensure they meet minimum standards for physical distancing, cleanliness, and infection control.

Ms. Mikakos said break rooms that were considered too small to allow workers to eat and drink safely are being replaced with tents and other temporary facilities.

But the Australian Medical Association despised the state government's response, saying it showed they still don't take the problem seriously.

AMA President Dr. Omar Khorshid described it as "too little, too late".

"Australia had a chance to act but is now catching up in its efforts to protect frontline workers," he said in a statement.

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