National News

Lockdown set to linger, 627 new Vic cases

Victoria's lockdown measures could become stricter, and there is no certainty about when they will end, as coronavirus numbers remain stubbornly high.

The state recorded its second highest tally of 627 new cases on Friday, and eight deaths, as Victoria topped 10,000 total cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the lockdown, scheduled to end in mid-August, could not be lifted with case numbers so high, and flagged further restrictions were possible.

"Public health experts from the Victorian team, together working with colleagues at a national level, will spend the next day looking through in fine detail, looking for trends to have a really clear sense of exactly what is presenting and exactly what the nature of our challenge is," he said.

"We cannot open up with these numbers, we cannot open up with significantly less than these numbers."

The premier issued the warning after revealing an alarming number of Victorians who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not staying home, with more than 100 referred to police.

Australian Defence Force personnel and public health officials did more than 500 visits to positive cases on Thursday, but one in four were not home.

"There were more than 130 unsuccessful visits," he said.

"There'll be a multitude of reasons for that, but what I can confirm for you is that more than 100 cases have been referred to Victoria Police."

The premier said there was no excuse for people who have tested positive not to be isolating.

"It is simply unacceptable for you to have this virus and not be at home," he said.

Opposition leader Michael O'Brien said the government needed harsher punishments for those who breach isolation rules.

"Whether it's hotel quarantine at their expense, whether it's monitoring bracelets or really tough fines, we cannot afford to let these people put the rest of us at risk," he said.

The latest fatalities are two men in their 50s, two men aged in their 70s, three men in their 80s and one woman in her 70s. Four of the eight are linked to aged care homes.

The deaths take the state toll to 113 and the national figure to 197.

Also on Friday, the 30 remaining residents at the hard-hit St Basil's aged care facility were moved to hospitals as replacement staff tested positive.

There are also reports that three doctors are in intensive care as they battle the virus.

Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said workplace transmission was a significant factor in driving large case numbers, particularly those with a younger workforce who may not exhibit symptoms.

Prof Sutton said while Victoria's surge was disappointing, the lockdown was having an effect.

"It's dispiriting to see big numbers and we all rise and fall with the numbers every day," he said.

"The stage three restrictions had a really significant impact and people should be gratified by the fact that that's the case."

Of Fridays new cases, 94 are understood to be community transmissions, Prof Sutton said, but these still make up the minority of daily numbers.

"With the majority being known close contacts, known outbreaks and clusters," he said.

Mr Andrews said the government's $300 isolation payment had been made to 4200 workers awaiting test results, at a cost of $1.26 million.

So far 12,600 businesses have received a $5000 grant, worth around $63 million in total.

Meanwhile, electricity network charges will be further deferred in Victoria.

AusNet Services, CitiPower, Jemena, Powercor and United Energy have agreed to relieve customers for a further six months to January 31, 2021.

This is applied to electricity bills issued in the period September 1 2020 to 28 February 2021.

© AAP 2020