TRAGEDY: 15 deaths and 725 new virus cases in Victoria
VICTORIA has recorded 15 deaths from coronavirus in the past 24 hours and a total 725 new cases have been added to the tally.
A person in their 30s is among the deaths, while 12 of the deaths are linked to aged care facilities.
Three men and one woman in their 70s, three men and three women in their 80s, and three men and one woman in their 90s are among the deceased.
There is a cumulative total of 13,035 cases in Victoria and the death toll stands at 162.
Of the 7227 active cases, 1435 are linked to aged care.
There are 538 Victorians in hospital with the virus.
A total 42 Victorians are now in intensive care as the state grapples with extreme lockdown measures to control the spread of the virus.
NSW recorded just 12 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday including one with an unknown origin.
Ten of the new infections are linked to existing clusters, one is in hotel quarantine and one couldn't be traced to known cases.
Western Sydney's funeral gathering cluster has grown to 46 following six new cases
Two new infections are connected with the Thai Rock Wetherill Park and another two with the Apollo in Potts Point.
It comes as the federal government is seeking urgent changes to the stage four shutdown of Melbourne businesses to protect the construction industry and ensure distribution centres can continue operating.
Scott Morrison said on Wednesday morning that several issues had been raised with Daniel Andrews because it was "so important that they get these restrictions right".
"These are very real issues and we'll look to see their responses," the Prime Minister said.
"Some of them are very urgent, particularly around distribution centres. The issues around major construction projects, there's some serious issues raised there and we'll be relaying those further on today. I know the Premier was working on these last night."
Mr Morrison also had a blunt message for Victorians disobeying the tough new rules.
"The report that I saw of a Victorian police officer being assaulted by someone pretending to do this in the name of liberty was just disgusting," he said.
"People have got to get real. I know this is tough. I know it's frustrating. I know it's hard to understand and it's confusing. I understand all that. But we've got to make this work and we've got to push through that and I know there's going to be things that really test people's patience."
"We're going to try and put everything we can to support Victoria to get this right as best as they can. But we've also got to do the right thing by each other, and that's up to us."
MIKAKOS DUCKS QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has been called a "shameful disgrace" and is facing calls to resign after attending parliament but refusing to answer any questions about the government's pandemic response.
Ms Mikakos and about 10 other MPs disregarded medical advice from the state's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who recommended they did not attend parliament.
A "smug" Ms Mikakos then ignored questions about the government's coronavirus response, including the bungled hotel quarantine program that sparked the state's disastrous second wave.
Ms Mikakos dismissed six key questions, prompting questions about why she bothered to defy the advice not to attend, only to refuse to answer queries.
"It was just extraordinary and it looked smug and arrogant," said Opposition upper house leader David Davis.
"People are entitled to answers and all she had to do was stand there and answer truthfully."
A government spokesperson blamed the Liberal Party for ignoring advice from Mr Sutton and putting "staff at risk".
"Given Michael O'Brien and the Liberal Party's dangerous move - the Government had to ensure it had the numbers in the upper house that blocked them from taking any further irresponsible action."
Sources close to the government said it felt it had to send some upper house MPs to parliament amid fears the Opposition and crossbench would otherwise push through "wild" motions. But only a small number of politicians - five from Labor - entered the chamber.
Given Labor has 17 Legislative Council members, critics said the Health Minister did not need to be among those ignoring health advice.
In the chamber, Ms Mikakos slammed the Opposition, saying: "The position that the government has been forced into in relation to today's sitting has been one that has set a very dangerous position - not just in terms of putting staff at risk but also sending a clear message to the community that the Chief Health Officer's advice can be ignored."
But Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid hit out at all the MPs who disregarded Prof Sutton, saying there was "nothing special about politicians".
"They're not immune from COVID. They haven't been vaccinated and they, and their staff, can certainly transmit this virus around the country," Dr Khorshid said.
"It is very disappointing that the Victorian upper house is sitting against the Chief Health Officer's advice."
After Ms Mikakos's refusal to answer questions, Opposition MPs Georgie Crozier and Bernie Finn, who labelled her a "shameful disgrace", called for her to resign.
Liberal Democrats MP David Limbrick said it was surprising Ms Mikakos showed up as "she never intended to answer a question".
Reason Party leader Fiona Patten said it showed "complete disdain for the Victorian public".
"She had a platform to talk through some of the most important issues facing this state right now, and refused to do so," said Ms Patten.
It comes amid growing frustration among government members over the decision to release minimal data about Victoria's COVID-19 cases, instead hiding behind the ongoing judicial inquiry.
A handful of ministers have also expressed annoyance with Daniel Andrews' move to create a "Super Cabinet" of eight, including himself, Ms Mikakos, Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville and Industry Minister Martin Pakula.
Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews has thanked Melburnians for abiding by the new coronavirus curfew and staying home.
Mr Andrews sent out a short but sweet message last night, sharing photos of the city's empty roads with the words "Thank you" via his social media.
The photos show the usually busy streets of Punt Road, Royal Parade and the Nepean Highway without any traffic as a result of the Stage 4 restrictions which came into effect this week.
PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, WE'RE IN A BAD STATE
Michael Ramsey says the fitness sector has had its heart ripped out.
The trainer and owner of Strong pilates studios has grave concerns for people's health and wellbeing without their exercise routines.
"We've got absolutely nothing now, they've pulled personal training completely," Mr Ramsey said.
"Probably the very last thing we could do was train people outside but that's been taken away. The only thing we can do is online and apps.
"When we came back from the last isolation everyone had gained weight and people were well out of their routines.
"There's been a lot of mental health talk but not a lot of solutions."
Mr Ramsey opened in Elsternwick and Mornington nine months ago, and has plans to open four studios interstate and in New Zealand.
He will launch an app next week but is considering moving his headquarters to the Gold Coast.
"Victoria is riddled with coronavirus and I can't see us operating until November or December,'' he said.
"We're not in a great place."
TRACING APP NOT HELPFUL IN VICTORIA
Victorian authorities stopped using the federal government's COVIDSafe app for two weeks during the deadly second wave of the pandemic, it has been revealed.
Federal Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy on Tuesday told the federal COVID committee Victoria's public health unit stopped using it "because they were so pressured" and were not finding it helpful. He said they had since "committed" to using it after reports of successful tracing in NSW.
Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng, confirmed the app was being used to trace contacts again.
He said it had not proven as useful for Victorian authorities during the second wave, as most people contracted the virus at work or at home, and their contacts were easily identifiable.
The Herald Sun believes the app's use was limited for a fortnight while interstate contact tracing teams were brought in and information- sharing procedures changed. A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said the app would "continue to play an important role in the response to the pandemic" and people were encouraged to download it.
It comes as Australians worried about their privacy revealed they were lying on contact forms, including at cafes and restaurants.
A poll of 1500 Australians, given exclusively to News Corp, found one in 10 Victorian respondents had provided incorrect or incomplete details on contact forms.
Almost a quarter of Melburnians were concerned their details would not be destroyed, and about a fifth were concerned business would use the data for marketing.
- Tamsin Rose and David Aidone
Originally published as Record number of cases expected, PM intervenes in shutdown