Victoria has recorded nine new cases of coronavirus — but with six already reported yesterday, there's hope the state could be getting its outbreak under control.
Health authorities yesterday reported six cases after its midnight reporting period meaning Victoria technically only recorded three new cases today.
Despite the smaller number, mystery cases, growing infections and a rapidly expanding list of exposure sites have heightened fears Victoria's "circuit breaker" seven-day lockdown could be extended.
The state recorded 11 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infections in the cluster to 54.
Victorian Opposition leader Michael O'Brien weighed in on the state's outbreak yesterday, saying it seemed clear the lockdown would last "a lot longer" than seven days.
"It's a very concerning day for Victorians. The pretty clear message is that we can't look forward to restrictions being eased on Friday," he said, according to the Herald Sun.
Multiple factors could determine lockdown extension
The Victorian government has continually refused to be drawn on whether the lockdown will end at 11.59pm on Thursday as planned, with Acting Premier James Merlino saying it wasn't just the case numbers that would determine if restrictions are extended.
"It's the type of cases. It's where it's occurring. It's [whether] we know where they're linked, if are they high-risk sites," he said.
"All of those things are taken into account by the public health team in terms of when they're confident to provide advice to government that we can then go towards some easings of restrictions."
Merlino said the outbreak "may well get worse before it gets better".
Chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said Victoria was "neck and neck with this virus", describing it as an "absolute beast".
He said authorities were discussing the lockdown measures day to day, but the latest developments were "really concerning".
"We've gone from a single case of the beginning of the month to 4200 primary close contacts," he said.
"It has been a rapidly moving virus and the transmission that has occurred in those high-risk settings has been very substantial.
"So we have to take it as a day by day prospect. With more numbers today coming through and those really concerning settings, especially in aged care, we are neck and neck with this virus and it is an absolute beast."
He said Victoria has to "prepare for anything" in the coming days.
"We don't know what will unfold over coming days," he said. "We have said that all the way through.
Exposure sites explode, infections spread into aged care
There are now more than 329 exposure sites spread across Victoria, sending contact tracers scrambling to identify close contacts.
Melbourne's coronavirus outbreak has spread to four aged care homes — with Arcare Aged Care Home, in the west Melbourne suburb of Maidstone, now having three cases linked to it.
The home was put in lockdown over the weekend after a worker, a woman aged in her 50s, tested positive to coronavirus late Saturday night.
Arcare today confirmed a second team member and a resident had since tested positive to coronavirus.
The resident had received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, but the second team member had not received any vaccinations.
One of yesterday's cases was a worker at the BlueCross Western Gardens aged care home in Sunshine, the suburb next to Maidstone in Melbourne.
The staff member tested positive late last night and is a close contact of the care worker who tested positive at Arcare.
Two other homes, the Coppin Centre Royal Freemasons aged care home and the Royal Freemasons Footscray aged care home, both went into lockdown yesterday after its staff worked in a home where a positive coronavirus case has been identified.
Kerri Rivett, the chief executive of the aged care provider, said the two homes had brought in "full outbreak procedures".
"We have just been notified that clinical staff members at our Coppin Centre and Footscray homes have, last week, worked at another aged care provider where a staff member has now tested positive for Covid-19," she said.
"The potential exposure occurred during work at the other provider and all staff were wearing a mask. Within our homes, staff have also been wearing masks at all times."