Victoria ramps up efforts to fight virus

An extra 4000 intensive care beds will be established on top of the 450 already in Victoria.
An extra 4000 intensive care beds will be established on top of the 450 already in Victoria.

Thousands of extra intensive care beds will be created in Victoria ahead of a surge in coronavirus cases that is expected to peak in June.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos says Victoria is "in the calm before the storm".

Telling Victorians not to be complacent, she said on ABC radio that the state's virus peak is expected in June.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Victorian government announced a $1.3 billion injection to fight COVID-19.

The minister told ABC radio the testing criteria will be expanded in Victoria to include police officers; workers in health care, residential care, disability care settings and homelessness support; and child protection workers.

It comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Victoria jumps to 968, up 51 from Monday.

Of those, 32 are in hospital including six in intensive care.

Nearly 40 diagnoses are thought to be from community transmission, which means they are unrelated to overseas travel and patients have not had contact with a confirmed case.

Most of the $1.3 billion the Victorian government is pouring into its health system will go towards providing protective equipment including 551 million gloves, 100 million masks and 14.5 million gowns, to be distributed to health workers.

An extra 4000 intensive care beds will also be established on top of the 450 already in operation.

It follows an in-principle agreement with Victoria's private hospitals to make available an extra 9000 beds.

The federal government has also announced more than 34,000 private beds across the country will be made available during the pandemic.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Victoria include four babies, including three aged under 12 months.

The babies are in isolation at home.

Six healthcare workers from Eastern Health, two Kmart staff at Chadstone Shopping Centre and two Coles workers at Mulgrave also have the virus.

It comes after new measures banning gatherings to two people, with exceptions for members of a household, and work and education.

"Use your common sense," Premier Daniel Andrews said.

"If you don't need to do it, don't do it."

Eight fines have been handed out to individuals and businesses for breaching rules aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus.

A drink-driver who crashed into a shopfront in Melbourne's eastern suburbs early on Tuesday morning was supposed to be self-isolating after returning from overseas.

Police will interview him about the crash and his failure to comply with the mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning travellers.

An adult massage parlour in Melbourne's southeast was also fined.

Individuals who breach Australia's mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements for returned overseas travel face on-the-spot fines of up to $1652.

More than 950 travellers arriving in Victoria from overseas are already in Melbourne hotels, being guarded by police and private security.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton took to Twitter to clarify stay-at-home rules, saying those staying with or meeting their partners will be exempted.

Police Minister Lisa Neville answered Mr Sutton's tweet, saying it was a good outcome for the community.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ms Neville had said partners living separately could not visit each other for social reasons.

The premier has foreshadowed harsher stage four measures and says they could be brought forward if Victorians don't follow rules already in place.

Australian Associated Press