Five more Victorians have died from coronavirus, as the premier appealed to young people to take the threat seriously if they want to “be able to go and have a beer”.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed 403 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the state’s third-worst tally.
The five deaths is also the record fatalities for a state in a single day, with the national figure now 133 and the Victorian toll at 49.
The latest victims are three aged care residents – a woman in her 70s, two men in their 80s and 90s, as well as two men aged 50 and 70.
“One of the terrible tragedies today is a man in his 50s – this is not just something that affects people that are frail-aged,” Mr Andrews said.
“That would be reason enough to do what we’re doing but it would be wrong to assume that young people are somehow immune to this. Even otherwise fit and healthy young people can get sick and can die from this virus.”
He said young people who have recovered from the virus have gone on to suffer persistent symptoms including shortness of breath.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said data from the start of July shows a quarter of the state’s cases are people in their 20s.
About 20 per cent of patients in hospital were under 50 and include four children. The youngest is under nine.
“This is an issue that is striking many families across Victoria,” she said.
Ms Mikakos said visiting restrictions will be tightened in aged care facilities and hospitals as case numbers continue to rise among workers and residents.
There are 213 aged care residents in Victoria who have tested positive at 21 facilities. Some 38 other aged care facilities have at least one staff member who has tested positive.
The government also announced workers without sick leave who are tested will be eligible for a $300 payment, allowing them to isolate while waiting for their result.
Those who test positive and do not have secure work or sick leave will then be able to apply for the additional $1500 payment.
“What we’ve got at the moment is people who feel unwell but don’t want to go and get tested because they’re fearful of not being able to go to work,” Mr Andrews said.
“This $300 payment will go a long way to supporting those families, and having them make much better choices.”
This comes after it was revealed on Wednesday about 3400 Victorians – nearly nine in 10 – did not isolate between feeling sick and being tested.
About 53 per cent of people then did not isolate between the test and receiving the result.
Mr Andrews said while he was glad to see stability in the state’s figures, it was too soon to know whether the lockdown on metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire would end as planned on August 19.
“If you want this to be over, if you want to get to the other side of it and find that COVID normal – and be able to go and have a beer, or go and have a meal with a friend and be able to move around the community much more freely than you can now – you’ve got to follow the rules,” he said.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said he had “no confidence” the lockdown will end before six weeks.
From Thursday, people in locked-down areas must cover their faces when they leave the house or risk a $200 fine.
“I think we are going to be wearing masks beyond this second wave as they may well have enduring benefit,” Mr Andrews said.