Australia will effectively seal off the state of Victoria from the rest of the country
Australia will effectively seal off the state of Victoria from the rest of the country AFP / William WEST

Australia on Monday reported its highest daily increase in COVID-19 infections as Victoria continues to post record-breaking cases.

The Victoria Department of Health and Human Services confirmed 532 new coronavirus cases overnight, from July 26 to 27, taking the national total to 549. This is the highest single-day total in the country since the pandemic started in March.

The tally brings the state’s total number of cases to 8,696. Of this total, 245 are admitted in hospitals, while 44 are in intensive care. There were also six additional deaths, with the total death toll now at 77.

The drastic increase in number is being linked to an aged care facility which accounted for five of the deaths and over 500 active cases in the state.

Because of the ballooning infections, state authorities have warned that the six-week lockdown in Melbourne may be extended. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews added people who feel unwell should stop going to work and instead get tested to curb community transmission.

“If you’ve got a sniffle, a scratchy throat, a headache, fever, then you can’t go to work,” Andrews said at a news conference.

“This is what is driving these numbers up, and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested because they have symptoms.”

Victoria chief executive Dr. Sandro Demaio also noted any restrictions currently being imposed will take several weeks to show effectivity, and daily cases will continue to be high for “many, many weeks.”

“This is really one of the tough things about this virus – it will take at least two weeks to see whether we’ve made a clear difference from any major new measure we put in place,” Demaio told ABC news.

“The delay between taking measures and then seeing those hospitalisation numbers come down, that could take between two and even eight weeks.”

Across Australia, other states are also imposing restrictions to hopefully curb the spread of the pandemic. In Northern Territory, travel restrictions against greater Sydney have been extended for another four weeks. Its borders will remain closed until August 28.

As of July 27, 5:34 p.m. AEST, Australia has 14,935 total COVID-19 cases and 161 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins.