NEWS
16/09/2020 10:52 AM AEST | Updated 16/09/2020 5:26 PM AEST

Victoria Reports 42 New COVID-19 Cases, 8 Deaths

The data marks a daily cases breakthrough for Melbourne.

Victoria on Wednesday said eight people died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours and 42 new cases were confirmed.

The state a day earlier reported no deaths from COVID-19 for the first time in more than two months and logged 42 cases.

With daily infections falling to double digits over the last several days from highs of 700 in early August, Victoria authorities will relax some lockdown restrictions put in place in regional areas.

The data marks a daily cases breakthrough for Melbourne with the 14 day rolling average of daily cases for the metro area dropping below 50 for the first time since August, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed in a Tweet.

Construction sites, manufacturing plants, warehouses and childcare facilities can reopen, allowing more than 100,000 workers to return to their jobs, if the 14-day rolling average is under 50 cases as of September 28.

However, people will still be limited to moving around in a five kilometre radius around home and only allowed outside for two hours a day for exercise, with a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am.

“We have to see this through. We absolutely do. Because if we get ourselves in a situation where frustration gets the better of us...then we can open, but we won’t stay open for very long,” Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters.

The state has set a much tougher target of a 14-day average of five cases for lifting the nightly curfew and reopening more businesses in Melbourne from October 26.

From late Wednesday, in regional Victoria, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted, residents of a household will be allowed to visit one other home, and cafes will be able to seat up to 50 people outdoors.

Australia has reported over 26,700 coronavirus cases and 824 deaths, with Victoria accounting for the bulk of both. New South Wales reported 10 new cases on Wednesday. The virus has been effectively eliminated in other states and territories.

Most of the country’s cases have been traced back to returned travellers. Daily limits have been imposed on the number of people allowed to return from overseas and arrivals must quarantine in a hotel for 14-days.

However with 25,000 Australians stranded overseas, the national government on Wednesday pressed states to raise caps and open up regional airports to international flights, so a further 2,000 a week could return, raising the weekly total to 6,000.

“I want to make sure that more Australians can return home. There are some heart-wrenching stories,” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told reporters.

Western Australia, which has kept its borders tightly shut offered to open up Rottnest island, off Perth, as a quarantine centre.

Reporting by Renju Jose and Sonali Paul.