National

Low deaths a blip as Victoria dents virus

By AAP Newswire

Victoria is showing signs the worst of its COVID-19 second wave has passed but authorities warn a drop in deaths is likely just a blip.

The state recorded a further four deaths and 303 new cases on Saturday, its second-lowest daily tally this month after Thursday's 278.

Case numbers are gradually decreasing, with the seven-day average down to 344 from 521 a week ago.

But authorities say more progress is needed before stage four and three lockdown restrictions can be eased for Melbourne and regional Victoria.

"The signs are encouraging but it is not over," Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Saturday.

"There is a long way to go and the only thing that wins if we get fatigue, if we were in any sense to give up ... is the coronavirus."

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said Victorians should be filled with hope that restrictions are working but reiterated that there was no room for complacency.

In the past week alone, 101 Victorians have died from COVID-19.

Saturday's deaths - two men and one woman in their 80s and one woman in her 90s - take the state's toll to 293 and the nation's to 379.

It's Victoria's lowest death tally since August 1 when two people died but isn't being hailed as a turning point.

"It probably is a blip," Mr Sutton said.

"It is always pleasing not to have a day of 10 or 20 deaths; they are awful days."

Two of the four deaths were aged care residents.

Like active cases more broadly, infections in aged care (2041) and among healthcare workers (1178) are stabilising but Mr Sutton said there were still "far too much".

There remains 661 people in hospital in the state and 41 in intensive care, 28 of them on a ventilator.

The majority in hospital are from aged care settings, Mr Sutton confirmed.

It came as the premier responded to vision showing ants crawling around the bloodied, bandaged leg of an elderly resident at Kalyna Care in Melbourne's northwest.

"I have not seen the footage but I have been briefed on it, that is just shameful and would be very distressing for everybody concerned," he said.

The 95-year-old woman died on Friday of causes unrelated to COVID-19.

That aged care facility was one of three taken over by the Victorian government this week to stem outbreaks, and Mr Andrews said he wouldn't rule out assuming control of more.

"It is based on need," he said.

"If we are asked to step in, that is exactly what we do."

Meanwhile, a major Melbourne hospital has denied it was looking for casual private security guards to monitor patients in hotel quarantine as reported by The Age.

Failures in the hotel quarantine scheme, including the use of private security guards, have been blamed for sparking the state's second wave.

The Alfred Hospital told AAP the role, advertised by its cleaning partner Spotless, was for a "customer support officer" to check through packages arriving at the hotels.

Corrections Victoria and Victoria Police are managing all resident supervision at the quarantine hotels, the Department of Justice and Community Safety said in a statement.

Authorities aren't sweating an additional 202 so-called mystery cases, taking the total number with an unknown source to 3383.

Mr Andrews noted it was a "very, very big increase" but reminded people contact tracing is finalised in bunches.