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More Victorian deaths, warning of more to come

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Another 19 Victorians have died and 331 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded.

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The deaths take the state’s toll to 246 and the national figure to 331 – an increase of only 18 due to a duplication in Monday’s figures.

One woman in her 50s, a man in his 70s, six women in their 80s, four men in their 80s, four women and three men in their 90s are the latest victims.

Fourteen of the deaths are linked to aged care outbreaks.

Premier Daniel Andrews gave detail of the victims after appearing before the second sitting of state parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee inquiry into Labor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

He last appeared at the hearing on May 12, when the state’s total number of coronavirus cases was 1509 and just 18 people had died.

Andrews faced questioning from PAEC deputy chair Richard Riordan on the state’s botched hotel quarantine program, which has been blamed for a second wave outbreak in the state.

The Herald Sun on Tuesday reported a leaked video of bureaucrats from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and the Regions congratulating themselves on pulling together the program and efforts to make quarantine comfortable.

There was no discussion of the health restrictions put in place.

“Did the crisis cabinet think hotel quarantine would be better run by people who fix roads and run an art gallery than your own health department,”Riordan asked.

“The answer to your question is no. At no point did people make a decision like that,” Andrews responded.

Andrews gave his media briefing ahead of Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kym Peake appearing before the committee.

Meanwhile, Australia’s deputy chief medical officer warned coronavirus deaths will continue to rise even if Victorian infections continue to stabilise.

It sparked hopes strict lockdown measures and mandatory face masks may be having an impact.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Michael Kidd was cautiously optimistic about the trend.

“We are seeing the first promising signs of a reduction in daily numbers of cases but it is too early to be certain,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Professor Kidd said it was heartening to see declining cases in the past five days.

“While we still have hundreds of cases being reported each day, we will continue to have people admitted to hospital and people becoming gravely unwell,” he said.

“Sadly some of those people will die.”

Even if Victoria gets on top of infection rates, there could be more heartbreak for families.

“There is a seven to 10-day lag between the daily reports in numbers of cases and people dying,” Prof Kidd said.

“Some people are sadly dying very early in the course of COVID-19 but for many people, it is a week or more after they have been infected that we see people who are gravely unwell.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison lashed out at suggestions elderly people could be sacrificed to the virus after a rump of columnists continued to float the idea.

“That is just a hideous thought,” he said.

“An absolutely amoral, hideous thought. One I have had no countenance with from the very first time it was suggested.”

-with AAP

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