A case is classed as community transmission if the person who tested positive is not a returned overseas traveller or a close contact of an existing case.
For almost a week, Victoria has consecutively recorded its highest number of new cases in more than two months, with 25 new cases on Saturday and 19 on Sunday, up from 21 on Wednesday, 18 on Thursday and 13 on Friday.
Two of the new cases are linked to Albanvale Primary school. Two teachers who tested positive to the virus overnight attended the school while infectious bringing the total for that outbreak to three.
The school has been closed for deep cleaning and staff and parents have been alerted of the outbreak.
Two new cases have also been linked to the H&M store in Northland Shopping Centre, bringing the total number of cases linked to that outbreak to four.
A toddler has also tested positive, with the Great Beginnings Nursery in Reservoir, in the city’s north, shutdown for deep cleaning.
Australia’s top medical officials have also called for a lockdown of six Melbourne local government areas identified as coronavirus hotspots, as Victoria experiences an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee said in a statement on Sunday night that it “strongly discourages” travel to and from Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin for non-essential reasons until the Victorian government can suppress the spread of community transmission in those municipalities.
There are 125 active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria. There are nine people in hospital, including two in intensive care.
Ms Mikakos said the government had not ruled out imposing stay-at-home restrictions on the six local government areas.
“We’ve had stay-at-home directions in the past which limited the types of reasons that you could leave your home to medical care, going to work and going to school,” she said.
“We don’t want to be in that situation. If people in those hotspot areas particularly limit their movements in the next few weeks, we can assess the situation and see if that makes a difference.”
Ms Mikakos said widespread testing, including for people without symptoms at Keilor Downs College and Albanvale Primary School would commence from Monday.
A team of 50 health officials would also be doorknocking, starting with the Brimbank and Cardinia council areas, to increase community engagement in hotspots areas, she said.
“We are very concerned about the level of transmission in those particular locations,” Ms Mikakos said.
“I want to stress, just because you don’t live in a local government hotspot area does not mean that your area is without risk, and everybody should still be complying very closely with all of the public health advice.”
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton would not rule out Victoria going back into lockdown if cases continued to soar, saying there was “no silver bullet” solution.
“This is a long battle and a complex one and there is no single silver bullet, it is re-emerging because people are not doing things as stringently as they might have done a month, two months ago,” Professor Sutton said.
He stressed that the Black Lives Matter protest did not appear to significantly contribute to the spread.
The increasing threat of a second wave of infections prompted Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to tighten restrictions around family gatherings at the weekend, limiting gatherings in homes to a maximum of five guests on top of the residents who already live there.
Victoria Police will also ramp up patrols of coronavirus hotspots and impose tougher enforcement of restrictions as fears of a second wave continue to grow and the state government extends its state of emergency for another month.
Mr Andrews blamed the concerning surge in cases on families deliberately flouting the rules, including some Victorians who were visiting family members or going to work even after testing positive to the deadly virus.
Criticism, however, is mounting over the department’s handling of quarantine hotels housing returned travellers and their role in fuelling the spread, with some family clusters linked to a spate of cases among security guards at quarantine hotels, including the CBD’s Stamford Plaza, where lax hygiene has been blamed for the outbreak.
More than half of the new cases since the end of April have come from family-to-family transmission, with some family clusters blowing out to more than a dozen people, Mr Andrews said.
Holidaymakers have also been warned against congregating in large groups and travelling with other families amid an increase in coronavirus cases for the sixth day in a row.
South Australia on Monday said it will send a team of contact tracing experts to Victoria where there’s been a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
South Australia’s Health Minister Stephen Wade says the three SA officials will travel to Melbourne on Tuesday and spend three weeks there supporting local health officials.
“Victoria has had a significant surge and there have been more than 116 cases identified in the last seven days and 75 per cent of those have been the result of community transmission,” Mr Wade said.
“It’s very clear that as they continue to investigate those cases, they will need to get in early and to get in early you need to have the public health specialists who can interview the particular cases and trace their close contacts.”
Premier Steven Marshall said local officials were “very hopeful” that Victoria would get on top of the current spike in coronavirus infections and it was in the national interest for it to reduce the number of new cases.
“The entire country is on Victoria’s side,” he said.
But Mr Marshall also cautioned that what had happened in Victoria was worrying and could impact on SA’s decision to reopen all its borders from July 20.
The federal government said on Sunday it was prepared to help Victoria with more resources should it be required, particularly through contact tracing and greater enforcement of hotel quarantine protocols.
Outgoing Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the reason Melbourne was emerging as the coronavirus capital of the country was due to community spread.
“The reason it’s a problem in Melbourne is there is that low-lying community transmission levels,” he told ABC radio on Monday.
Dr Murphy also noted what he called a “disturbing issue” of people who tested positive, or who were direct contacts of people who had tested positive, “not maintaining isolation or quarantine”.
Melissa Cunningham is The Age’s health reporter.
Craig Butt joined The Age in 2011 and specialises in data-driven journalism.