More virus deaths but positivity in Vic
Australia's COVID-19 death toll has climbed to 278 as the nation's worst-hit state shows early signs of heading "in the right direction".
Victoria on Saturday recorded another 12 deaths in the preceding 24 hours, six linked to aged care facilities which remain a concern for the nation's leaders.
Despite the latest Victorian figures, which include another 466 cases in the past day, the state's Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, had some positive news about the reproduction rate of the virus.
"We are headed in the right direction," he told reporters.
"How fast we can get there is a matter for all of us as community members and our behaviours."
But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Saturday did not dwell on positivity, saying "it should never have got to this".
He challenged the states to dig deeper financially to protect the economy and championed the federal government's $314 billion spend on bracing the nation.
"The states can do more, the states need to do more," Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders on Friday agreed to ongoing audits of the aged care sector after recent deadly outbreaks in Melbourne nursing homes.
The audits will look at preparedness to cope with the disease, which has killed 187 aged care residents Australiawide.
Acting Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said they would examine preventative measures and training to respond to outbreaks.
"Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best," he said.
The stress testing is expected to aid a national aged care outbreak response plan in two weeks.
Dr Sutton said tackling the issue required "every innovation" and that there were lessons to be learned from overseas approaches where removing residents from facilities was not necessarily the best option.
"Having staff (living) on site is an innovation, to the extent that it limits their interaction with other community members.
"We know that a number of aged care workers are picking up that virus in the community."
The latest deaths in Victoria included four women in their 90s, and two men and three women in their 80s and the state has 1600 cases linked to the aged care sector.
Queensland closed its borders to NSW and ACT residents as of Saturday in a bid to prevent a second outbreak in the Sunshine State.
Queenslanders returning home faced traffic delays of up to two hours at border crossings and police turned away more than 140 people including some who lied about where they had come from.
NSW recorded nine new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to 8pm Friday.
Tangara School for Girls in Cherrybrook is the latest to be closed for cleaning, after a student was among the latest diagnoses.
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