Australia

Three-year-old among two new locally acquired cases as Victoria’s exposure site list grows

Victoria’s Holiday Inn coronavirus cluster has grown to 16 cases, as health authorities attempt to ring-fence an outbreak of the infectious UK strain.

The state recorded two new local COVID-19 cases and a third in hotel quarantine on Saturday. There were 21,475 test results received.

Speaking at a Sunday press conference, Minister for Health Martin Foley said the two new cases were a woman and a three-year-old child who both attended a private dining venue at Sydney Road, Coburg on 6 February. They are from separate households. 

Both cases have been in isolation since 12 February and tested and returned a positive sample in isolation the following day.

The mother of the child is also being investigated as a “possible case”, but authorities said this is yet to be confirmed. 

The state’s third lockdown has plunged millions back into the hardship they thought had been left behind with the lengthy restrictions and economic sacrifices of 2020.

Florists and restaurants hoping to receive bumper trading for Valentine’s Day are gutted at the loss of income they will incur as fresh produce goes unsold.

The outbreak can be traced back to a family of three who quarantined at the Holiday Inn and are believed to have been infected overseas.

One family member, a man now in intensive care, used a medical device for his asthma called a nebuliser in their hotel room, despite them being banned outside of medi-hotels.

The nebuliser’s use has been attributed to spread of coronavirus at the Holiday Inn.

The man hit back at what he felt was authorities’ criticism of him in an Age newspaper article, claiming he had declared the nebuliser to medical staff at the hotel.

On Saturday however, head of the state’s hotel quarantine authority Emma Cassar denied he told staff about it.

“I can categorically say that there is no evidence from our audit that he has raised this with our health team,” she told reporters.

Ms Cassar said the man had been badly treated by the media and she was sorry about his experience.

“We have never accused him of doing the wrong thing,” she said.

There are close to 1,000 primary close contacts associated with the Holiday Inn cases who are isolating for 14 days and being tested.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the number of identified close contacts would likely grow as contact tracers make inquiries.

He defended the “circuit-breaker” lockdown saying he could not ignore advice from experts.

“I’ve got advice to do it. I’ve done it. It’s based on science,” he said on Saturday.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton addressed concerns about legal provisions for the lockdown to go until 26 February.

“Nothing should be read into it as having any intention to extend a day beyond when we think they need to be in place. For now, that’s five days,” he said.

Until 11.59pm on Wednesday, Victorians are only able to leave home to shop for essential items, provide or receive care, exercise and to work or study if they can’t from home.

Similar to stage-four restrictions last year, there’s a five-kilometre travel limit, compulsory face mask usage and no home visitors.

Victoria’s health department listed four new exposure sites on Sunday morning. They are two Pascoe Vale swimming pools, and a Woolworths and bakery in Broadmeadows.

A full list of exposure sites can be found on the Victorian health department website.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSWVictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania



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