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The state recorded seven new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the same number as Saturday, and no new deaths as government deliberations on whether to ease restrictions go down to the wire ahead of Sunday's announcement.
The state was likely to take a significant step to ease restrictions on Sunday, paving the way for retail and hospitality businesses to open within days, but a growing outbreak in the northern suburbs may scuttle plans.
An additional four cases were linked to the outbreak on Saturday and thousands of test results were pending. Premier Daniel Andrews said he and his public health team would need to wait for the results of those tests to determine whether the outbreak was under control before making a decision on the extent of Sunday's loosening.
"A lot of people had been banking on [Sunday] as the day where we would have absolute clarity about what October and November looks like," Mr Andrews said of the group of cases that grew by four to 32 cases across at least six households on Saturday.
"If we can do that we will. But the appropriate thing to do, if you have thousands of tests in the laboratory being processed … you have to wait for the results.
"Almost certainly we will get more cases out of these separate outbreaks. The key point will be [on Sunday] and Monday and throughout the week, are they linked?
"If they're not, if there are no linkages, if they're not linked in any way, that speaks to the fact that there may be more virus in that northern part of the city than we would be comfortable with."
The Premier said Sunday's announcement could include updates on restr
ictions such as the 25-kilometre movement limit and when the "ring of steel" separating Melbourne and regional Victoria could be lifted.
After a promising week of low single-digit case numbers, the government had advised retailers that staff could return to work to start preparing their stores from Wednesday this week in a “dark” opening.
Of about 17,200 tests completed on Friday, 2802 were in the northern suburbs – an increase of 35 per cent on the week before – and Mr Weimar said thousands more were expected on Saturday via pop-up testing centres such as one at East Preston Islamic College.
A second school, Croxton Special School in Northcote, has been shut after a positive test from a student who has links to the cluster, which has grown since a primary school student attended East Preston Islamic College for two days while infectious this week, leading to that school shutting.
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