The largest number of cases – 5004 – comes from a category labelled “other”, which includes student accommodation, backpacker hostels and family and home settings.
The number of active coronavirus cases fell for the first time in two months on Wednesday, but there are new concerns about the rising number of infections in regional Victoria.
As Victoria marked its deadliest day in the pandemic so far, Premier Daniel Andrews said he was increasingly worried by case numbers in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
Treasurer Tim Pallas told a parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday that his department was assuming Melbourne would move from stage four to stage three restrictions in mid-September, before moving into stage two after the end of September.
But Mr Andrews said the accuracy of modelling for that timeline would depend on the “millions of decisions” made by individual Victorians each day.
The coronavirus death toll rose by 21 to 267 on Wednesday, and Victoria recorded another 410 new cases.
The number of active COVID-19 cases dropped by three, bringing the total number to 7877 across the state.
The last time active cases decreased in Victoria was on June 14, when the number reached 40, down from 47 the previous day. Every day since then the total number of active infections has risen.
Regional Victoria returned to stage three lockdown rules last week as cases continued to rise.
Health Department figures showed Greater Geelong had 179 active cases on Wednesday, with 53 in Bendigo and 22 in Ballarat. One week ago there were 132 active cases in Greater Geelong, 29 in Bendigo and 13 in Ballarat.
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said too many Melburnians were still making unnecessary trips to regional Victoria.
“There needs to be more done to stop the disaster that’s happening in Melbourne from spreading into the regions,” he said.
Mr Walsh said travellers on public transport were getting into regional Victoria too easily and were not facing the same checks as motorists.
Bendigo Health set up a contact tracing hub to cover the Loddon Mallee region last week.
The 12 contact tracers were notified of 42 cases within the team’s first week, five of which were confirmed this Monday. The health unit was investigating 45 cases in the region on Wednesday.
Bendigo Health chief executive Peter Faulkner said the hub was taking over from the state’s public health unit to trace close contacts in the region.
“Information on how the positive cases acquired the illness and where it may have been passed on was work that was previously done by the state – now we will do this work for the Loddon Mallee region,” Mr Faulkner said.
The team has been following outbreaks at the St Joseph’s Primary School in Quarry Hill and at Hazeldene’s Chicken Farm in Lockwood, which has now been connected to 21 cases according to figures from the Health Department.
On Wednesday, the department also identified an outbreak at the Corio Village shopping centre, north of Geelong.
A second resident has died this week at the Opal South Valley aged care home in Geelong, bringing the total death toll to three.
A long-term worker at the Golden Farms chicken abattoir who tested positive to coronavirus died on the weekend.
Infections at the Bupa nursing home in Traralgon also increased to 16, with six residents, seven employees, two agency staff and a visiting health worker testing positive.
There have been 957 cases identified in regional Victoria since the pandemic began.
Mr Andrews said on Wednesday that he was increasingly concerned by case numbers in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
“They’re very low numbers, but coming off such a low base, any additional cases are of a concern to us,” he said.
“The point I would simply make to people right across regional Victoria, you’ve done a great job in following these rules right throughout the pandemic. But it’s really important that each and every regional Victorian stays the course with this.
“I know it’s tough, I know it’s challenging, I know that we would prefer to be in a different set of circumstances. But even at low numbers we’ve just got to have that vigilance across the board so we can keep them low, and indeed, drive them down even further.”
Late on Wednesday, the West Wimmera Advocate said its next edition would be its last as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
“After months of ‘soldiering on’ for the community with constantly changing restrictions and more and more rules in order to do business, the announcement by the SA government to impose a hard border is the final straw,” the newspaper announced on its Facebook page.
The paper covers communities between Goroke, Edenhope, Apsley, Harrow and the South Australian border.
Of the 410 new cases reported on Wednesday, 72 cases have been linked to outbreaks, while 338 are under investigation. The number of “mystery cases” increased by 58, taking the number of community transmission cases to 2961.
Sixteen of the 21 deaths reported on Wednesday have been linked to aged care, which recorded another 94 cases, bringing the total number of COVID-19 infections in the sector to 1932.
There were 662 people in hospital, including 43 in intensive care.
Benjamin is The Age’s regional editor. He was previously state rounds reporter and has also covered education for The Age.
Rachel is a city reporter for The Age.
Craig Butt joined The Age in 2011 and specialises in data-driven journalism.
Ashleigh McMillan is a breaking news reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at email@example.com