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Victorians will have to wear face masks ‘for some time’ as state records 182 new coronavirus infections, 13 deaths

Victorians are likely to keep having to wear masks until there is no longer any community transmission, the state’s chief health officer has suggested, as the state government battles lockdown fatigue with a slew of new ads featuring comedians and celebrities.

The state recorded 182 new COVID-19 cases and 13 death on Saturday, the second day in a row where cases are below 200 in recent weeks.

On Friday, there were 177 new infections – the first time since 13 July that case numbers dipped below 200.

“It’s great to see two days in a row under 200, certainly we are trending down,” Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said in a press conference on Saturday.

“That is showing up in the stabilisation of hospital figures as well, we have a decrease in hospitalised patients, a decrease in ICU and even ventilators. So the overall trend is positive.”

Prof Sutton said case numbers are likely to dip below 150 next week.

“But it is the simple measures, the ones we have shown just now, that are really critical to ensure that we continue on the pathway – and that includes testing,” he said. 

“It is a pretty miserable time at the moment to be out of your house. If you don’t need to be, please don’t.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said it was good to see case numbers drop in regional Victoria as well.

“We have seen a reduction in those big, regional cities, and we are seeing less cases across regional Victoria, that is exactly what we want,” Mr Andrews said. 

Victoria battles lockdown fatigue as case numbers trend down

Victorians will also start to see a range of new ads across social media to encourage residents to keep ‘playing their part’ as they enter their fourth week under tough lockdown restrictions including a curfew and restricted time outside their homes.

Celebrities including footballer Tayla Harris, presenter Waleed Aly and comedians Magda Szubanski (as her alter ego Sharon from Kath and Kim), Shane Jacobson and Nazeem Hussein will all feature in government ads with a “humorous” twist.

Mr Andrews said it was designed to get the message to those who don’t normally engage with mainstream media.

“This is different, this isn’t something we have done before, but I think it’s important to get the message out there,” he said.

Prof Sutton also said Victorians may have to keep donning masks for “some time”.

“If we have no community transmission whatsoever, then I am not going to be recommending mask beyond that,” he said.

“But there are other levels we can get to where maybe we don’t require masks in all settings at all times in the way it is recommended at the moment.

“So there are lots of shades of grey here. But we know it makes a difference. And so I think it’s a small impost, it’s a small bit of personal responsibility and care that we can take for ourselves and others.”

Mr Andrews said: “We will be wearing masks longer than stage four, will be washing our hands much more often and keeping our distance, we will be staying apart but the key part is we’re all together in this as one state.”

Ten of the 13 deaths recorded overnight were linked to the aged care sector, while there were 3,838 cases of unknown source.

Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. 

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. 

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. 

News and information is available in 63 languages at https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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