Australia

‘Too early’ to tell if Victoria’s COVID-19 lockdown has worked, as cluster grows to 16 cases

Health authorities say it is too early to tell if Victoria’s snap lockdown has worked as new cases emerge from a family function in Melbourne’s north.

The two new cases reported on Sunday were a three-year-old child and a woman in her 50s from separate households who were at the Coburg event on 6 February.

The function was attended by 38 people including a worker at the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport, bringing the total number of cases linked to the outbreak to 16.

Health Minister Martin Foley would not be drawn when asked if Victorians could be confident the “circuit breaker” lockdown would not be extended beyond Wednesday.

“It is too early to say whether we have been successful,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“But the signs show Victorians are doing the right thing, backing each other, and our test, trace and isolate system is staying ahead of this.

“We will continue to monitor it on a day-by-day basis, really it is up to the shared effort of all Victorians.”

Despite the reassuring rate of negative results from Saturday’s tally of 21,475 tests, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton rejected a suggestion the five-day lockdown was an overreaction.

“This is a high stakes game,” Professor Sutton said.

“We cannot afford to be wrong here.”

It came as authorities were forced to defend the time taken to identify the venue at 426 Sydney Road, Coburg as an exposure site.

Victoria’s COVID-19 testing boss Jeroen Weimar said the Holiday Inn worker, her partner and housemate as well as the three-year-old child and woman in her 50s were among 38 people who attended the event.

The worker had returned a negative test result the following day but a subsequent review found it was a “false negative”.

“To be a weak positive, but to be infectious enough to actually cause infection in other people at an event is very unusual,” Prof Sutton said.

The child’s mother could be another possible case in waiting after returning three conflicting test results in a 24-hour span.

Officials are yet to determine whether she is at the start or tail end of her infection, Mr Weimar said.

The latest tier one exposure sites identified in Victoria include a number of Yarra Tram services, the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne’s CBD, Elite Swimming and Oak Park Sports in Pascoe Vale, Woolworths Broadmeadows Central and Ferguson Plarre bakehouses, also in Broadmeadows.

For more information, visit: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/case-locations-and-outbreaks-covid-19.

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: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.

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