Premier Daniel Andrews has defended his stance on schools and keeping stage three restrictions in place for at least another two weeks, despite other states relaxing their rules.
- Two more people were diagnosed with COVID-19 overnight in Victoria, taking the state’s total to 1,351
- Premier Daniel Andrews insisted the state was “not leaving kids behind” by continuing to deliver classes online
- The Government is encouraging anyone with even the mildest symptoms of coronavirus to be tested
Mr Andrews said while it was possible students could return to school this term, he wanted parents to assume the entirety of term two would be taught remotely.
“National Cabinet made a decision a while ago that each state is different and each state faces its own challenges. We’ve got a lot more community transmissions than WA and Queensland,” he said.
Asked about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments on the weekend about children needing to return to school, Mr Andrews said:
“Well, he doesn’t run the schools, so some people can provide commentary — others need to get on and make decisions.”
“I think you need to be guided by the Prime Minister’s own words and he said if you want to know what is going on in Victoria then speak to the Victorian Government.”
Mr Andrews said the 97 per cent of parents who were keeping their children at home understood the need for remote learning.
“The notion that people in Canberra say so, that we can flick a switch, I just don’t think that can happen,” he said.
“Can it change? Yes, but not right now.
“The alternative is to have messages that are inconsistent, a million kids and tens of thousands of staff moving around and all that will do is spread the virus.”
When asked about concerns vulnerable students are being left behind by online learning, Mr Andrews said the Government would continue to support those students throughout the pandemic.
“There is advanced online learning and I want to give a shout out to all those teachers and staff who’ve worked so hard to develop these online education tools,” he said.
“We’re not leaving kids behind, this is the education state and I will put our record of investment in education against any other in the country.”
Victoria begins ‘enormous’ task of testing 100,000 people
Mr Andrews told ABC Radio Melbourne that the state would take on the “enormous” task of testing 100,000 people in two weeks before deciding on how restrictions would be rolled back.
“We can get those levels of tests done, it won’t be easy. Hopefully, those numbers come back at a very low level and then we have options and we can make decisions,” he said.
“You don’t get to just flick that switch, other countries have switched restrictions off and they’re in an even harder position. Victorians can see the strategy is working.”
Mr Andrews would not be drawn into “hypotheticals” when asked what would happen if the state failed to test 100,000 people before the state of emergency ended on May 11.
“We’ll get results each day, every day. That tally will build over the two weeks. The second the four-week state of emergency expires, we’ll have a lot of data by that point.”
Mr Andrews said Victoria had the capacity to test 12,000 people a day and encouraged anyone with even the mildest of symptoms to get tested.
He said mobile testing would be set up in supermarket carparks and workplaces, and testing units would come to the homes of people who could not travel.
Mr Andrews also confirmed that if people were tested and had symptoms, even mild symptoms, they must self-isolate until their test results came back.
“I think people are acutely conscious that if you have symptoms you must stay home. But the symptoms can be very, very mild,” he said.
He encouraged people to call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398, if they wanted more information about being tested.
Two more people contract COVID-19 overnight
Mr Andrews said two more cases of coronavirus were confirmed overnight, taking the state’s total to 1,351.
There are 23 people in hospital, 11 of whom are in intensive care.
“These numbers are stable, these numbers are exactly the kind of numbers we would want to see,” Mr Andrews said.
Victoria Police issued another 56 fines and 903 spot checks in the 24 hours to 11:00pm Monday.
Examples of apparent breaches of coronavirus restrictions included seven people gathering in public to drink alcohol, three men in a car watching movies, and multiple people travelling to visit their friends at their house.
Premier encourages aged care centres to allow visitors
Mr Andrews also advised private aged care homes to allow people to visit their loved ones.
He said with a royal commission into aged care underway, aged care businesses were not doing themselves “any favours by locking people out”.
“It would be devastating if coronavirus came into facilities but two people should be able to go in. The notion of a complete lockdown, that does nothing for compassion or decency. It’s heartbreaking. It doesn’t have to be Flinders Street Station on a busy morning, it can be tightly controlled.”