Free rooms for Victorian frontline workers

Victorians have been urged not to become complacent about COVID-19 despite a decrease in new cases.
Victorians have been urged not to become complacent about COVID-19 despite a decrease in new cases.

Victoria's frontline health workers will have free hotel stays if they need to self-isolate during the coronavirus crisis, as the state recorded 20 new cases overnight.

The state government will provide $20 million to buy hotel rooms, enabling up to 8000 frontline workers who may test positive for COVID-19 or have unexpected and unprotected contact with a suspected patient, to self-isolate, away from family and flatmates, at no cost.

The service will be available to healthcare professionals and other workers such as cooks and cleaners who directly engage with patients.

"This is exactly the right thing to do," Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday.

Healthcare workers are more likely to be diagnosed with coronavirus than any other workforce and are at higher risk of coming into close contact with someone with the virus.

So far, more than 80 per cent of health workers who have the virus have not got it from patients, but from overseas travel or travellers, Mr Andrews said.

Also on Sunday, the government unveiled a $45 million boost to enable Victorian parents to send children to sessional kinder for free during term two, in a bid to keep the sector viable amid the crisis.

Coronavirus cases in Victoria jumped 20 overnight, to 1135.

So far, eight people have died. Forty-seven people are in hospital, including 11 in intensive care.

The increase in cases overnight is less than the 30 new cases recorded on Saturday, 49 recorded Friday and 68 recorded on Thursday.

However, Mr Andrews warned while there has been success in reducing the rate of increase, there is no quick end.

"If you look to other parts of the world, you see what failure looks like, where you have rapid transmission of this virus, where it gets away from you and health systems simply can't cope," he said.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton believes the reduction in recorded cases is an early sign of most people doing the right thing.

"For the first time I have a little bit of optimism that we can actually beat this. That we can avoid literally the millions of cases that will occur in North America and Europe and the tens of thousands of deaths that unfortunately will occur in those continents," he said.

"It shouldn't be forgotten that going that bit harder and going a bit earlier is the difference between Australia and New Zealand and the rest of the world."

Premier Andrews said he was proud most Victorians were staying at home, but some continued to ignore health advice, putting lives at risk.

In the 24 hours to 8am, 142 fines were issued, following 751 spot checks at homes, businesses and non-essential services.

Most breaches were for people not staying at home when required, or going to house parties or gathering in public parks.

People can be fined $1652 if they leave home for non-essential reasons and businesses face a $9913 fine.

There are 75 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission.

Australian Associated Press