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Victoria Records First Three Coronavirus Deaths As Cases Soar To 520

Three men, all in their 70s, have died in Victoria after contracting coronavirus.

The men are the state’s first three deaths, and bring the national death toll to 12.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the threat of coronavirus to public health is real and everyone must take social distancing seriously.

"Our thoughts are with their loved ones at this difficult time,” Professor Sutton said.

Sutton told 3AW the deaths were “not unexpected”, as he revealed another 54 people tested positive to the virus on Wednesday.

“We’re now up to 520 cases, so two deaths amongst 500 is relatively small looking at global figures,” he said.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (Image: AAP)

While the number of diagnoses is rising, the rate is slowing, which Professor Sutton said was the result of strong measures taken to keep travellers from overseas isolated.

While the National Cabinet has moved to implement ‘stage two’ lockdown measures, Professor Sutton said the government needed to move faster to contain the virus.

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“I would strongly make the argument we need to be ahead of it and not get to a point where if we do step up, and if it is inevitable, we are not doing it too late,” he said.

“It is more powerful to make those social distancing measures now to change the trajectory of this epidemic.”