Victoria has recorded its darkest day of the COVID-19 pandemic, registering 15 additional deaths and 725 new cases overnight.
The state’s death toll now stands at 162, and one of the virus’ latest victims is a man in his 30s.
Of the 15 overnight deaths, 12 are linked to aged care.
“Can I send my heartfelt condolences and sympathies to each of those families,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“This will be a terrible time and any and all support we can provide to you we will and we are with you in this very difficult time.”
The spike in infections comes despite repeated reassurance from health experts that cases will decrease in coming weeks, as Victoria enters its first week of stage four lockdown.
Leading epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely told Today Victoria’s new restrictions and the mask mandate would cut “chains of transmission”.
“It will start to go down and keep going down over the next week,” Professor Blakely said.
“This is an early analysis, it’s a five-day smoothed average, however it is exactly what we expect.
“I am hoping it will keep going down in the next week or so and then it will steepen in its fall as stage four kicks in a week to ten days after we started.
“So good news amongst all the issues going into stage four at the moment.”
More to come.