VICTORIA has a clean daily coronavirus sheet for the first time in more than four months, with no deaths or new cases.
Today’s Department of Health and Human Service figures showed average daily diagnoses over the past fortnight down to 3.6 for Melbourne and seven mystery cases from October 10-23.
The corresponding figures for regional areas are 0.2 and zero.
The news follows Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement that the further easing of restrictions on lifestyle and business operations has been paused because of a virus outbreak in Melbourne’s north.
Mr Andrews’ daily media conference was delayed today as the government awaited latest test results from the outbreak area.
DHHS testing boss Jeroen Weimar confirmed there had been no new cases linked to the outbreak, which stands at 39.
“This is one of the best outcomes we could hope to see,” he said, noting there had been nearly 15,000 tests in the area since Tuesday last week.
Victoria hasn’t reported zero COVID-19 deaths and cases since June 9. Its death toll stands at 817 and the nation’s at 905.
But a family at the centre of the Melbourne cluster is frustrated with authorities, saying there were mixed messages about when people could leave isolation.
One member says they were cleared to leave isolation two days before a child attended school while infectious, sparking the outbreak.
The family, which asked not to be named, told The Age newspaper the boy was not warned he should stay isolated.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Monday there was a “clear error” but Mr Weimar was adamant no mistake had been made.
“The advice was factual, clear and to the point … I completely accept there appears to have been a misunderstanding,” Mr Weimar told 3AW.
After foreshadowing “significant” rule changes for most of last week, Mr Andrews hit pause on Sunday to await key test results from the city’s north.
“We have results for the 2,100 people who got tested yesterday and there are hundreds more samples going through the labs over the course of the day,” Mr Weimar said.
He added more than 380 people had been contacted in the area over the weekend about the potential exposures.
Mr Andrews acknowledged the frustration caused by the “cautious pause” of 24 to 48 hours but still hoped to unveil rule changes for Melbourne by Tuesday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Mr Hunt have also criticised the pause. They say the decision to keep businesses closed suggests the Victorian government doesn’t have “sufficient confidence” in its contact tracing system to manage future outbreaks.
On Monday, Mr Hunt said the good news in the latest figures showed “today’s the day” for Melbourne restrictions to be further eased.
Former Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has urged the next phase of Melbourne’s reopening to go ahead, saying “you cannot delay … forever”.
In regional Victoria restrictions are scheduled to be wound back for some businesses and activities from 11.59pm tomorrow (Tuesday, October 27).
All Victorian students are now back in the classroom, with 163,000 of them from Years 8-10 in Melbourne returning to on-site learning on Monday.
– AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS