Nine new deaths, more Victorians in hospital
Victoria has recorded nine deaths and 295 new positive coronavirus cases.
There has also been a jump in hospitalisations with 307 people now receiving treatment, although the number in intensive care remains steady at 41.
The deaths overnight mean Victoria now reaches a grim milestone with 92 lives lost to coronavirus - more than the rest of Australia combined on 84.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Monday the state may have reached its peak, recording over 500 cases for the first time.
Seven of the deaths are linked to aged care facilities.
Two of the deaths are in people in their 90s, five in their 80s, one in their 70s and one in their 60s.
There are 804 active cases linked to aged care facilities, and 502 in health workers.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the testing rate remained higher than one in five Victorians.
He urged Victorians not to go to work if they were sick.
"This is largely a second wave fuelled by a second outbreak in workplaces," Mr Andrews said.
EVERY POSITIVE CASE TO RECEIVE A KNOCK ON THE DOOR
The Premier said the ADF would be deployed to doorknock every positive coronavirus case.
He noted that so far 29 individuals had not been at home when doorknocked.
"They have been referred to Victoria Police," Mr Andrews said.
"Australian Defence Force personnel have now visited around 500 homes, that is for people who for one reason or another could not be contacted.
"Interviews have been conducted on a doorstep ... there have been 18 teams that have been out every day, about 58 staff who have been out door-knocking.
"From today, we will increase that to around 90 staff and each and every positive case will be door knocked, will be visited by the ADF and DHHS team.
"That is not about compliance, but making sure that every single positive case understands what we are asking them to do.
"And it is their opportunity to ask what they need from us, what can we do for you to support you in unique circumstances."
COMMMUNITY TRANSMISSION CAUSED THE SECOND WAVE: PM
Mass community transmission of COVID-19 across Melbourne caused the deadly outbreaks in aged care facilities, according to Scott Morrison.
"When it rains, everyone gets wet," the Prime Minister said.
Mr Morrison said he wanted to be as up front as possible about the "deeply concerning" situation.
He said staff had transfered the virus into facilities, largely "unaware" they were carrying it.
"This is the product of community transmission," he said.
"We have seen some very distressing and concerning situations arise in a number of those facilities.
"We will not ever be complacent about it."
Mr Morrison said he hoped the Aged Care Royal Commission would look at the situation in facilities throughout the pandemic.
Mr Morrison said Australia was experiencing a "Victorian wave", not a second wave.
He said the economic impact of the Victorian situation was being felt around the country.
Victorians should brace for more deaths from aged care facilities "every day", said Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy.
"There will be more (deaths)," Prof Murphy said.
There are now cases in about 10 per cent of aged care facilities across the state.
- Tamsin Rose
SPECIALIST MEDICS HEAD TO VICTORIA
Defence force tents have been set up outside the troubled Epping Gardens Aged Care centre.
Australian Defence Force medics were escorted from the building at 8am on Wednesday after finishing their shift.
Security guards will be posted outside the nursing home after threatening outbursts by family toward staff on Tuesday.
It came as infected residents were evacuated from the centre to private hospitals.
A specialist medical team built to handle humanitarian disasters is being sent to Victoria to try to stem the deadly spread of COVID-19 in more than 80 aged-care homes.
Nurses from Victorian hospitals, as well as from NSW and South Australia, are also joining the fight with hundreds of aged-care workers now coronavirus patients or close contacts.
Premier Daniel Andrews moved on Tuesday to suspend several types of elective surgery, freeing up hospital beds for aged-care residents caught up in outbreaks.
It followed days of negotiations with the federal government amid fears of staff shortages and warnings from providers about hospitals refusing to accept transfers of residents.
Unwell residents were evacuated from the virus-ridden Epping Gardens home on Tuesday, as distressed and angry relatives demanded answers from staff.
About 170 residents from several homes have already been moved to hospitals, and dozens more are expected to be moved imminently.
Four of the six Victorian deaths announced on Tuesday were linked to aged care, taking the death toll among nursing homes residents to 39.
With 769 active cases linked to aged-care homes, the federal government also provided an extra five million masks and 500,000 face shields for workers. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the AUSMAT team being sent to Victoria was the "SAS of the medical world".
"They are the best of the best," he said.
As the crisis escalated, Mr Andrews said on Tuesday he did not have confidence some aged-care providers were "able to provide the care that is appropriate to keep their residents safe".
"We don't run this sector, but the residents in these homes are all Victorians," Mr Andrews said.
"My mother is in her mid-70s, with underlying health issues but she lives at home. Some of the stories we've seen are unacceptable and I wouldn't want my mum in some of those places."
A visibly emotional Mr Hunt, whose late father lived in a home, hit back, saying he would "not hear a word against" aged care staff.
"My father lived in one, yes. It's a difficult decision for any family and it's a difficult time. My father lived in one and we knew that that meant he was in the latest stages of his life," Mr Hunt said on Tuesday.
"I cannot imagine better care that my family and my father could have got and I speak, I think, for hundreds of thousands of families around the country."
"And the idea that our carers, that our nurses are not providing that care, I think, is a dangerous statement to make."
Some federal government figures were frustrated by the state government's delay in agreeing to suspend elective surgery and transfer residents from virus-affected homes.
Mr Hunt said it was "not acceptable" that aged-care provider Bupa had faced "extreme difficulty getting patients into public hospitals".
"Where there are patients that need that support, they must be given it," he said.
"There can be no excuses. The beds are available. The workforce is available."
Bupa Aged Care clinical services director Maryann Curry said the company's experience in Britain and Spain proved residents needed to be moved as soon as they were diagnosed.
"If the passage to hospital is not clear, we lose precious hours as this disease moves so quickly," she said. "It is our view that keeping COVID-positive aged-care residents within the home will almost certainly result in them suffering more than is necessary."
Leading Age Services Australia's policy general manager Tim Hicks said Mr Andrews' comment was "disappointing and hurtful" for providers and staff.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Victoria was facing a "very complex" issue.
"The standing down, necessarily, of many in that workforce has had a very significant disruption to the provision of care in those facilities," he said. "The commonwealth has been working, including with other states, to ensure that we can plug those gaps wherever we possibly can."
The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, established at the weekend, is now co-ordinating efforts to transfer patients and bring in staff.
Mr Morrison said communication breakdowns with the families of residents were "terribly heartbreaking".
"There is disruption and we would ask for patience," he said. "But I understand that that patience is very hard to come by when you're talking about a loved one who has been affected by COVID-19." he said.
NORTHLAND MYER CLOSES AFTER COVID CASE
A worker in Myer's menswear department at shopping mecca Northland has tested positive for coronavirus.
The worker tested positive after contracting the deadly virus from a family member and they last worked in the store from July 20-22 when they were potentially infectious.
As soon as Myer was made aware of the positive test they notified the DHHS and team members, with some now in isolation.
The store and department has undergone a deep clean and sanitisation and will be open today.
A Myer spokesman said their thoughts are with the team member and they wish them a speedy recovery.
"We can advise that a Myer team member at our Northland store has returned a positive result for COVID-19 following contact with a positive family member," he said.
Read the full story here.
AGED CARE RESIDENTS NEGLECTED IN HORROR HOMES
Diabolical failings have been exposed in Melbourne's coronavirus-plagued aged-care homes, with 84 separate outbreaks and more than 900 cases now linked to the sector.
The Herald Sun has been told some residents have been left sitting in their own faeces, malnourished and not cleaned for days.
As tensions mounted between state and federal governments on Tuesday, interventions at private facilities exposed a raft of damning allegations, including:
Faeces found in beds and patients left unfed for days at St Basil's in Fawkner;
Staff at Epping Gardens Aged Care being forced to call triple-0 because there were only four of them on duty; and
Defence force personnel raising serious concerns for their safety after being deployed to help at Epping Gardens.
Some care-home residents also sat unwashed for days.
The Herald Sun has been told that at Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth, management was unable to provide vital details of staff and residents' close contacts.
At a Dandenong care home, which has three residents in critical condition, a physiotherapist who worked with patients on every floor of the facility tested positive. There were last night 769 active cases and 39 deaths linked to aged-care homes.
The daughter of a resident at Epping Gardens said her mother had twice not been washed for stretches of four days, before being transferred to hospital on Tuesday.
Susan, who did not want her surname published, said her 67-year-old mother's catheter had also not been cleaned for four days, leaving her at risk of infection.
Read the full story here.
ANDREWS NO FAN OF ROYAL COMMISSION BID
Daniel Andrews has brushed off calls for a royal commission into his state government's widely criticised pandemic response.
The Herald Sun revealed the Australian Medical Association had called for a royal commission.
Asked on Tuesday if he would support that, MrAndrews dismissed the query.
"I am not focused on those matters," he said. "They are entitled to their view. I am not focused on those matters.
"We are a long way away from those sorts of issues. I am more focused on doing everything we can to provide care to those that are sick, to have the best set of policies and the best public health response we possibly can have."
Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said the call for a royal commission was effectively "a vote of no-confidence in the Andrews government's ability to handle this pandemic".
He said while a royal commission would perform an important function, it would take years before a final report could be delivered.
"Victorians need answers now, not in two or three years' time. When parliament meets next week, we expect the government to give Victorians answers," he said.
"When ministers appear before (the) public accounts and estimates (committee), we expect the government to give Victorians answers. And when ministers appear before the hotel quarantine inquiry, we expect the government to give Victorians answers."
A royal commission could be set up by either the state or federal government on the advice of government ministers.
The government would then be responsible for setting terms of reference and appointing commissioners, who would be given sweeping powers to probe matters of substantial public importance.
An inquiry into the state's hotel quarantine program is already under way, as is a royal commission into Australia's aged-care sector.
But the AMA believes a royal commission into Victoria's response to the pandemic is needed because neither of those inquiries go far enough to uncover the wider problems.
The failed hotel quarantine scheme has been widely blamed for causing the state's second wave.
The Herald Sun can now reveal a security guard was dismissed from the scheme for serious hygiene breaches in the first weeks of the controversial program.
Sources have confirmed the woman was found to have hugged and touched other guards at the Four Points Sheraton hotel. She also failed to maintain social distancing in other instances.
The incidents happened in early April, not long after private security was brought in to manage security at the venues.
The woman was removed for misconduct by the security firm managing the hotel.
She had been engaged for the work by a subcontractor.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday: "The aged-care royal commission is already looking at issues relating to COVID in terms of what occurred in NSW.
"I would expect them to look at what has occurred in Victoria as well."
TRAVEL DIPS AS CITY HUNKERS DOWN
Melburnians are heeding the message not to leave the home unless for essential reasons, with data showing movement remains limited across the city.
There were 111,000 trips taken on public transport on Sunday, July 26, about 85 per cent lower than usual.
These journeys more than tripled on weekdays as essential workers commuted but the 365,000 trips recorded on Wednesday, July 22 were still less than a fifth of normal passenger numbers.
During the same period, motorists were significantly more likely to hit the road.
There were approximately 3.7 million vehicle trips recorded in Melbourne on Sunday while journeys rose to nearly 6.5 million on the Wednesday prior.
The weekday figure was 35 per cent lower compared to movement levels before coronavirus restriction were introduced.
"We're seeing patronage down across the network as people in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire do the right thing and stay home," a government spokeswoman said.
"By limiting the number of people moving around our state we can limit the spread of the virus."