Testers at a testing site in Tarneit. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
Testers at a testing site in Tarneit. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

Victoria records 216 new coronavirus cases, 12 deaths

Twelve Victorians have died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, with 216 new cases of the disease detected.

It brings the state's COVID-19 death toll to 363, but the daily total is equal lowest since July 11 - more than five weeks ago.

The daily total is also the fourth consecutive day of figures in the 200s, a promising sign two weeks after the second wave peaked at 725 cases on August 5.

Stage four restrictions were imposed on metropolitan Melbourne on August 2.

Premier Daniel Andrews is set to provide an update later on Wednesday.

It comes as Victoria's integrity watchdog received more than 150 complaints from residents in a Melbourne housing tower locked down for two weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of complaints has tripled since the original probe into the lockdown at 33 Alfred Street in North Melbourne was launched on July 17.

It comes after the building was surrounded by police and locked down on July 4 without warning amid soaring coronavirus infections.

At the time people reported being trapped in the building and unable to access adequate fresh air, food or medical supplies.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass said some of the submissions to the inquiry were very concerning and called for anyone with a complaint to file it by August 28.

The public housing towers in North Melbourne were in a hard lockdown during July. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Daniel Pockett
The public housing towers in North Melbourne were in a hard lockdown during July. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Daniel Pockett

"It is important that we document and understand what happened and learn lessons from what occurred, so that in the future the human rights of public housing tenants are ­recognised as much as everyone else's," she said.

Ms Glass originally launched her inquiry after her office was contacted by 50 residents, prompting her to seek input from residents, Department of Health and Human Services, the Emergency Management Team, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Community Legal Centres, community groups, and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

It came after legal expert Jeremy King called for the watchdog to investigate.

Ms Glass will continue to investigate why and how the lockdown happened, the impact on residents and whether it was in line with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act.

She will report to the Victorian parliament.


MIKAKOS DENIES SEEING HOTEL QUARANTINE EMAILS

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has told parliament that she was not briefed on emails sent by the Australian Medical Association in April raising concerns with the hotel quarantine scheme.

Ms Mikakos was asked during Question Time why she ignored the warnings, but said the letters were not sent directly to her.

"The issues that were raised in that email from a board member of the AMA were, as I understand, sent to an official in the department," she said.

"It was not an email that was addressed to me, it was not an email that was brought to my attention and it was not an email that I was briefed on.

"I've only become aware of this email since media reports on it.

"I actually understand the contents of the email were suggestions rather than criticism."

Ms Mikakos said the email included mentions of 'green zones', where there are intended to be no interactions with possible infections, and that these were already implemented by the time the message was delivered.

Testers at a testing site in Tarneit. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
Testers at a testing site in Tarneit. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

 

 

RELIEF FOR FARMERS FROM BORDER BANS

Victorian farmers and agriculture workers will be allowed to travel 100km into NSW after crisis talks over border closures.

Under the new rules, Victorian workers will be able to apply for a new entry permit, rather than being forced to travel through major transport hubs like Sydney Airport.

They will be able to travel up to 100km into NSW for work, with those needing to travel further assessed on a case-by case basis.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke welcomed the move, following bizarre rules around border closures that could cause a backlog in the supply chain and drive up food prices.

But he flagged ongoing concerns with the South Australian border with restrictions to tighten on Friday.

"As worried as we were about the issues on the NSW border, we are now as equally concerned with the border in South Australia which is unworkable," he said.

A pedestrian walks over the West Gate Freeway overpass at Port Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Andrew Henshaw
A pedestrian walks over the West Gate Freeway overpass at Port Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Andrew Henshaw

"The South Australian government should immediately look at what's been introduced on the NSW border and adopt the same approach.

"At the end of the day, it's about feeding the nation and we can't have farmers being choked by red-tape."

State premiers have again been warned by Scott Morrison over their harsh border restrictions.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister said any and all domestic border closures needed to be made transparently and on medical advice.

"I understand what they're seeking to do, but it's important that all premiers act on the basis of transparent medical advice," Mr Morrison said.

"If there's going to be these border arrangements in place, they will, of course, have very serious impacts on the economies of their states and the livelihoods of those who live in those states and businesses and jobs.

"That all has to be weighed up and that's the decisions they're taking and they need to be transparent with the Australian people about it."

Mr Morrison said he had intervened in the NSW and Victorian border situation to ensure agricultural workers were able to move between the states.


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