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National virus death toll rises but Victorian cases drop

National

Australia’s coronavirus death toll has risen to 438, with another 17 fatalities in Victoria.

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The increase takes the state’s figure to 351.

But the figure is down on yesterday’s record of 25, while there were also 222 new cases, continuing the lower trend as the Victorian outbreak comes off its peak.

The figures come as an epidemiologist credits Victoria turning the corner in its coronavirus crisis to sacrifices made by hardest-hit communities.

Professor Catherine Bennett, chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, said daily COVID-19 case tallies had steadily and reassuringly declined since peaking at 725 cases on August 5.

Commenting on the link between high case numbers in Melbourne’s low socio-economic areas, Bennett pointed to Victoria’s botched hotel quarantine scheme.

“The communities hardest hit when their workers brought the virus home were also those most challenged in the face of the pandemic – over-represented in multi-site casual work, unable to work from home or afford to forgo work,” she said in a statement.

“The fact that the wave is turning in Victoria is largely a credit to those hardest hit, and who have had to do the really hard yards to shut down local transmission.”

There have been no 400-plus days for new cases since last Wednesday.

Of Monday’s record deaths, 22 were linked to aged care.

Authorities have warned of ongoing fatalities even as new case numbers decline, amid a stage-four lockdown for metropolitan Melbourne and stage-three restrictions for regional areas.

A breakdown of ICU hospitalisation data released on Monday afternoon shows 31 of 49 patients are aged 60 or over.

-AAP

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