CANBERRA, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Australia recorded the second largest daily number of new COVID-19 cases on Friday when the death toll is on the brink of surpassing 200.
As of Friday noon there had been 196 deaths from COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours is 651, which is the second largest daily number in the country after Thursday's record of 747, according to the update from Michael Kidd, the Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer.
All eight new deaths were in Victoria, including four linked to aged care facilities in the state.
It takes the state's death toll to 113 with more expected to follow as authorities continue to fight outbreaks of the virus in aged care.
The total number of confirmed cases in Australia as of Friday noon was 16,905, said Kidd in the update.
"The level of new diagnoses remains concerning," he said.
"Eight days ago, we had over 500 cases reported for the first time and the trend continues to be upwards."
Victoria has confirmed 627 new cases - its second highest daily increase after 723 on Thursday - and reclassified 48 cases that were previously diagnosed.
The number of cases nationally has grown by 3310, or 24.3 percent, in seven days from 13,595 on July 24. The death toll has risen by 57 from 139 in the same time period.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said he supported the Victorian Government's decision to make face masks mandatory statewide from 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 2.
He said it was concerning that the lockdown on the metropolitan Melbourne area imposed in early July was not having impact on the rate of infection.
"Yesterday was a very disheartening day for all Australians and in particular Victorians with cases rising to those levels," Morrison told Nine Entertainment radio.
Despite the number of deaths in aged care facilities continuing to rise the PM said that the situation was showing signs of stabilizing.
It comes only days after Morrison described the situation as a "health crisis."
"But I'd stress there are over 430 aged care facilities across the Melbourne area and less than a half a dozen of those have been in a very serious situation, an acute situation. It's only been a couple where we've had those very unacceptable and very distressing outcomes. And that's why we've moved quickly working together with the sector," he said.
Morrison spoke to Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria, on Thursday night to discuss the possibility of further restrictions in Victoria.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA), has called for further lockdowns across Victoria in the form of certain industries being shut down.
Tony Bartone, the President of the AMA, said on Friday that he was in "disbelief" when he read Thursday's numbers in Victoria.
"Our definition of essential industries really needs to be tightened up. We need to actually move further and quicker on restrictions," he told Channel 9.
"Unfortunately the numbers really underpin that there is still a lot of work to be done.
"Obviously the end result of this will mean that more Victorians will end up in hospital, more Victorians will end up in ICU and unfortunately there will be a continuing death toll that comes out of this." Enditem