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COVID fears deter Vic hospital attendance

Deadly cancer cases are among the medical conditions potentially going undiagnosed, as scared Victorians steer clear of hospital emergency departments over the threat of COVID-19.

There was a decline of more than 25 per cent in Victoria's emergency room presentations in August compared to the same time last year, authorities confirmed on Friday.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said it was clear people were deferring treatment for more serious diseases.

"This is concerning because deferred care can lead to worse health outcomes, longer hospitalisation stays. It can lead to tragedy," Ms Mikakos said.

Emergency department presentations for heart attacks have fallen by 18 per cent compared to the same time last year, while strokes are down 24 per cent.

There has also been a 30 per cent reduction in detection of the five most common forms of cancers - colorectal, prostate, breast, melanoma and lung - as screening numbers drop off.

Victoria has 223 active COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers, but Ms Mikakos urged people not to delay visiting their GP to check out lumps, bumps or symptoms.

"I want to stress that our hospitals are safe for people to attend," she said.

"It is important that you continue to seek that medical care. It may, in fact, save your life."

Melburnians remain subject to a COVID-19 lockdown curfew between 8pm and 5am, with Premier Daniel Andrews standing strong in the face of federal government criticism.

New traffic data highlights a "pronounced and significant" drop in road use in metropolitan Melbourne from 7pm to midnight and an "immediate and sustained" reduction from midnight to 6am.

Victoria's police boss Shane Patton has revealed the force never requested the introduction of the curfew, while chief health officer Brett Sutton conceded it wasn't his recommendation.

Professor Sutton's admission prompted federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson to write to the Human Rights Commission, demanding it examine if the lockdown measure constitutes a violation.

Asked about Mr Wilson's claim, the premier said: "This is not about human rights. It is about human life."

"Police need rules they can enforce. This strategy only works if we limit movement.

"The traffic data ... makes it very clear that the curfew does limit movement."

Victoria reported 43 more COVID-19 cases and nine deaths in the 24 hours to Friday morning, taking the state toll to 710 and the national figure to 797.

It's the eighth straight day of double-digit cases in Victoria and helped push down Melbourne's 14-day case average to 65.3.

The city's fortnightly average for daily infections must fall to 50 or lower before some workplaces and schools can reopen from September 28.

Regional Victoria's fortnightly case average lifted slightly to 4.7 with 74 active infections.

The emergence of a so-called "mystery" case at the Victorian-NSW border town of Echuca is a "significant concern" to the premier.

Victorian deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng said the patient was being re-tested, with no other known cases in the area.

To progress to the "third step" of its separate roadmap plan, regional Victoria must have a daily case average of five or less across 14 days and record no cases with an unknown source.

But Mr Andrews remains confident regional restrictions could still be eased as early as next week and that its gains can be replicated in Melbourne.

"There is great cause for optimism and to be hopeful that what's happened in regional Victoria is proof positive that this strategy can work, is working, and will continue to work," he said.

© AAP 2020