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Victoria's virus deaths spike as cases drop

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Victoria has suffered a sharp rise in coronavirus deaths, with 24 new fatalities.

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They take the state toll to 462 and national figure to 549.

Australia’s worst daily figure of 25 was recorded on August 17.

Victoria registered 149 new cases of the virus for Wednesday. It’s the third straight day the number has been well below 200.

The figures come as Premier Daniel Andrews is forced to strike a deal with crossbenchers to extend Victoria’s state of emergency.

The pandemic sparked a state of emergency on March 16, which is due to expire on September 13 after a maximum six extensions.

However, Andrews wants to change legislation so it can be prolonged a further 12 months.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien has ruled out supporting the bill, which almost all upper-house crossbench MPs oppose in its current form.

The premier said an extended state of emergency would allow Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton to issue “commonsense” directions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

These include rules on face masks, mass gatherings and quarantine as well as density limits for businesses and workplaces.

He stressed the proposed extension did not mean stage four restrictions – also due to end on September 13 – will be in place for another year.

The premier said he was willing to work out a compromise with the crossbench before parliament sits on Tuesday. He will need four on side to pass the legislation.

Key crossbencher Fiona Patten earlier indicated she may support the bill “if there was some compromise”, while former federal senator Derryn Hinch said the two crossbenchers from his Justice Party may also support an amended bill.

But Liberal Democrats David Limbrick and Tim Quilty are urging fellow crossbenchers not to negotiate a shorter extension with the government.

Meanwhile, Education Minister James Merlino said he was confident students will be back in classrooms in term four, subject to Professor Sutton’s approval.

-AAP

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