Medical experts are weighing up harsh New Zealand-style restrictions to combat the Victorian coronavirus outbreak, which is fuelling a rising national death toll.
Eight more people have died from the disease, taking the national tally to 197.
Victoria recorded 627 new cases on Friday amid concern stay-at-home orders in place for the past three weeks across greater Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire aren’t doing enough.
Premier Daniel Andrews has been in crisis talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the next steps in stopping the deadly spread.
Mr Andrews said experts would spend the next two days analysing infection data from the first half of the six-week lockdown.
“The best advice may well come to me that we need to take further steps, that the steps we’ve taken are not enough to pull this up,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
The state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton confirmed a New Zealand-style lockdown, which saw all businesses except for essential services closed, was being explored.
“There are really significant consequences in what you do in terms of increased restrictions, it has to be focused on the data,” he said.
Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is bracing for harsher measures.
“I certainly expect restrictions will be further tightened to ensure we ring-fence the areas of outbreak,” he said.
Alarmingly, more than 130 of 500 people with coronavirus visited by the Australian Defence Force and health authorities on Thursday were not at home.
They have been referred to police.
The premier and the prime minister are urging Muslims not to gather in large groups during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Mr Morrison, who is a devout Christian, said he and wife Jenny had not been to church in months.
“I just want to encourage everyone to make positive decisions when it comes to how they choose to celebrate their faith over this important time for that community,” he told 2GB radio.
NSW has granted an exemption for 400 people to gather at a mosque in western Sydney to celebrate Eid, which takes place this weekend.
NSW recorded 21 new cases, sparking the closure of four more Sydney venues for deep cleaning and contact tracing after being linked to coronavirus infections.
In Queensland, one new case has been detected in a man whose family visited a restaurant at the same time as an infected woman charged with illegally entering the state.