Australia has recorded its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic as medical experts mull further restrictions to quell the devastating Victorian outbreak.
Deaths and new cases surged to record levels in Victoria on Thursday, with the loss of 13 more lives pushing the national toll to 189.
The state recorded 723 new cases, prompting Premier Daniel Andrews to make face masks mandatory for all Victorians.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee will provide advice on further measures to stop the outbreak to federal and state leaders on Thursday night.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed the Victorian government’s move to ban people visiting each other in six regional shires.
“We can’t rule out further restrictions or limitations to stem this outbreak,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the expert panel had considered the best medical evidence about how to get on top of the outbreak.
“I won’t go into the details of what that might lead to in terms of any further measures in Victoria,” he said.
Mr Morrison does not expect other states to ramp up anti-virus measures, noting NSW has been able to track the source of new cases.
Aged care continues to be Victoria’s disaster hotspot, with 10 of the 13 latest victims linked to nursing homes.
Mr Morrison warned private aged care providers about not using protective personal equipment correctly.
“Failure to comply with those requirements of using PPE will lead to marking down on people’s accreditation,” he said.
More than 450 of the state’s almost 5000 active cases are aged care residents, sparking fears of more deaths in coming days.
The prime minister said the rising toll was worrying as he cautioned against complacency.
“We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there is some golden immunity that Australian has in relation to this virus,” he said.
Mr Morrison said the 50 cases a day with no known source was the primary cause for concern.
The first of five Australian Medical Assistance Teams, usually tasked with disaster relief in critical health situations, has arrived in Melbourne.
NSW recorded 18 new cases, with just two coming from returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
Queensland is bracing itself for an outbreak of community transmission after two women with coronavirus dodged quarantine.
The pair and another woman travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney.
All three have been charged with fraud and providing false or misleading documents.
A major contact tracing investigation has been launched after the women roamed free before two tested positive for the disease.
Mr Morrison said all state premiers should release the health advice behind border closures, with Queensland banning Sydneysiders and WA maintaining a hard border to all other states and territories.