Premier Daniel Andrews has extended the state of emergency in Victoria for four weeks, as the death toll from coronavirus in the state rose to 308.

While that means continued lockdown for Victorians, there was some positive news, with the 279 new cases confirmed on Sunday (August 16th) giving Andrews “cautious optimism and real hope” that things are improving.

There were 16 deaths recorded, with 11 of those linked to aged care. 662 Victorians are now in hospital, with 40 of those in intensive care.

But Andrews spoke about “numbers heading in the right direction” in his Sunday press conference.

“I am and always was very cautious, but there is on my part at least, a cautious optimism and a sense of real hope that this strategy is working and that we are seeing numbers fall now,” he said.

The state of emergency means that Stage 4 restrictions will continue to apply for Melbourne, while regional Victoria (where 15 new cases were reported) will remain under Stage 3 restrictions.

Premier Andrews urged people in regional areas to get tested.

“If there is one ask is a takeaway from today’s briefing, if people in those regional cities … can come forward and get tested, that is the really important part of us keeping the numbers in regional Victoria low.

“We want to keep them low and drive them down even further.”

“We will beat this virus – and extending the state of emergency means we have all the tools we need for the fight,” Andrews said.

NSW reported 5 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, after reporting nine on Saturday. Two cases in the past two days were locally acquired without a known source/under investigation.

The Tangara school cluster grew by four over the weekend, bringing the total to 25.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly said that NSW is on a “knife’s edge” with COVID-19 in recent weeks, and NSW Health issued a statement on Friday recommending that people in the state avoid bar-hopping, and stick to one venue if they do venture out.

Meanwhile, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told Sky News Australia on Sunday that he is “genuinely optimistic” that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available on the international market by 2021.

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