Victoria records 372 new COVID-19 cases, 14 deaths

Victoria has recorded 372 new coronavirus cases and a further 14 deaths, with epidemiologists cautiously optimistic the state's second wave of infections has turned a corner.

It comes after the state recorded 278 new cases on Thursday – its lowest number of infections in weeks and less than half the record total of 725 notched up last Wednesday.

"I am 100 per cent convinced we are well past the peak and are heading down quite quickly," said Professor Adrian Esterman, chair of biostatistics at the University of South Australia.

"If you look at the trend over the past week, it seems to be unmistakable – it’s going down," he said.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases has dropped from a peak of 575 almost two weeks ago to 310 on Thursday.

The effective reproduction number – which measures the average number of people each infected person passes the virus on to – has also fallen to 0.74 according to a model by Professor Esterman. If the number remains below 1, case numbers will continue to fall.

However, the Andrews government remains under fire over failures in the state's hotel quarantine program which has been identified as the source of the state's second surge in cases.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed on Friday that patient zero in Victoria’s calamitous second wave of COVID-19 was not a badly behaved security guard but a night duty manager at the Rydges hotel on Swanston Street, one of Melbourne's busiest quarantine hotels.

Seven security guards contracted to patrol the hotel were stood down immediately and told to get tested and go home to isolate after the night duty manager was confirmed to have the virus.

But it was too late. Five of the original seven guards, all from contractor Unified Security, soon returned positive COVID-19 tests. They spread the disease to their families in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne, helping seed the state's second wave.

Meanwhile, mounting evidence suggests the vast majority of COVID-19 cases may be spread by as little as 10 per cent or fewer of those infected.

Analysis of contact-tracing data in Hong Kong linked 80 per cent of the city's infections back to just 20 per cent of those infected. A similar study using genomic data in Israel found between 1 per cent and 10 per cent of infected individuals were responsible for 80 per cent of the spread of the virus.

It means the much-watched "R number" – the reproduction number, which represents how many people each sick person passes the virus on to on average – is a less effective measure of the epidemic, as a small group of people are doing a disproportionate amount of spreading.

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