Victoria hit with over 650 new coronavirus cases and a record 17 deaths

Today is the deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic in Victoria with more than a dozen people losing their battle for life and hundreds more infected.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce more than 650 new positive tests as the state's worsening crisis shows no signs ending. 

His is also expected to confirm Melbourne will to go into strict Stage 4 lockdown from Wednesday after a week of speculation.

Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured, arriving at a press conference on Saturday) is expected to send Victoria into a strict stage four lockdown on Wednesday

Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured, arriving at a press conference on Saturday) is expected to send Victoria into a strict stage four lockdown on Wednesday 

Victoria recorded 397 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday (pictured). A Stage 4 lockdown will see nearly all shops close and high school students back to learning from home

Victoria recorded 397 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday (pictured). A Stage 4 lockdown will see nearly all shops close and high school students back to learning from home 

The state will likely close all but essential businesses and send high-school students back to learning from home.

If they go ahead they will be the harshest restrictions that Australia has seen and will be similar to the lockdown imposed by New Zealand.  

The looming harsher lockdown prompted thousands to flock to shops across Melbourne in a new round of panic buying.

Long lines and full trolleys were seen outside supermarkets as early as 7am - even though they would stay open under stage 4.

Under the new rules nearly all cafes, restaurants and shops are likely to close for a further six weeks. 

Only supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations will be allowed to stay open across Melbourne and key regional areas of Victoria. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to make the shock announcement on Sunday (a woman reading with her face mask on in Melbourne on Wednesday is pictured)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to make the shock announcement on Sunday (a woman reading with her face mask on in Melbourne on Wednesday is pictured)

Residents will likely be restricted to their own suburbs and further limits will be imposed on the numbers allowed in supermarkets.  

Cafes and restaurants are likely to continue to provide takeaway services, but people will not be allowed to dine in.   

Police will also step up their checks and increase patrols to stop potential breaches. 

Licence-plate recognition technology will be used to identify non-essential travellers, the Herald Sun reported. 

It is expected construction sites will remain open and tradies will be given special access to hardware stores.  

Public transport will also be continue in a limited capacity, with masks compulsory, and outdoor exercise will be allowed.  

The decision to move to Stage 4 restrictions and its announcement rests on the Victorian Government and Premier Daniel Andrews.   

The Victorian government released a breakdown of active COVID-19 cases by postcode on Friday afternoon after recording the second highest number of new daily cases since the pandemic began - another 627 cases and eight deaths

The Victorian government released a breakdown of active COVID-19 cases by postcode on Friday afternoon after recording the second highest number of new daily cases since the pandemic began - another 627 cases and eight deaths

Only supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations are expected to operate in a normal capacity (people wearing masks in Melbourne pictured on July 19)

Only supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations are expected to operate in a normal capacity (people wearing masks in Melbourne pictured on July 19) 

Exercise will still be allowed under the new restrictions but Melbourne residents must continue to adhere to the mandatory mask rule (people exercising in Melbourne pictured)

Exercise will still be allowed under the new restrictions but Melbourne residents must continue to adhere to the mandatory mask rule (people exercising in Melbourne pictured) 

A Melbourne local walks past Australian Defence Force personnel as the city continues to trudge through stage three lockdown

A Melbourne local walks past Australian Defence Force personnel as the city continues to trudge through stage three lockdown

Victoria recorded 397 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths on Saturday.

Mr Andrews announced the latest figures with 37 linked to outbreaks and 360 currently under investigation. 

Australia's COVID-19 death toll rose to 201 after Victoria on Saturday reported the deaths of a man and two women aged in their 80s and 90s.   

The fatalities bring Victoria's death toll to 116. There are currently 5,919 active coronavirus cases in Victoria. 

Military personnel patrol the Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility in Epping, Melbourne

Military personnel patrol the Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility in Epping, Melbourne

At least 1,008 active cases have been connected to outbreaks in aged care homes.  

More than 100 cases have been referred to Victoria Police for breaching stay-at-home lockdown rules.   

Experts have been working over the weekend to analyse infection data from the first half of Victoria's six-week lockdown and determine if harsher measures are necessary.  

Melbourne locals pictured wearing face masks during a walk along Morell Bridge on July 24

Melbourne locals pictured wearing face masks during a walk along Morell Bridge on July 24

Victoria is expected to extend the lockdown for an additional six weeks (pictured, a clinical waste removal personnel at St Basil's Homes for the Aged in Fawkner, Melbourne)

Victoria is expected to extend the lockdown for an additional six weeks (pictured, a clinical waste removal personnel at St Basil's Homes for the Aged in Fawkner, Melbourne)

STAGE 4 LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS IN NEW ZEALAND

All non-essential businesses were forced to close and only supermarkets, corner stores, foodbanks and pharmacies were open 

Restaurants, cafes, butchers and fruit shops were all closed  

Takeaway food was not allowed 

New Zealanders were only allowed to leave home for an essential reason like food shopping or exercise 

Interaction was only allowed with people in one's own household 

All schooling was done remotely  

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Mr Andrews admitted further restrictions, based on state and national modelling, could prove a 'circuit breaker' for rising COVID-19 cases.

'What we have at the moment are numbers that are too high of community transmission and that is a concern to us.

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