Australia

Victoria records 21 new local COVID-19 cases as Sydney travellers test positive

Victoria has recorded 21 new locally acquired coronavirus cases, including four mystery infections.

The health department on Thursday confirmed 17 of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks, while 15 were in quarantine during their infectious periods.

Some 45,408 tests were processed in the 24 hours to Thursday morning, while 25,418 Victorians were vaccinated at state-run hubs.

It’s also been revealed two women that illegally boarded a plane from Sydney to Melbourne have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Victoria’s COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed the women were on board a Qantas flight on Monday afternoon and did not have the correct paperwork.

The duo was stopped at Melbourne airport and taken to hotel quarantine where they tested positive on Wednesday.

Mr Weimar said the women were carrying an invalid green permit and had since been fined $5,452 each.

“I am pleased to say that both women are well,” Mr Weimar told reporters. “They are being cared for in the quarantine program. We will work on their recovery.”

All 46 people on board flight QF471 have been contacted and will quarantine for 14 days.

It comes after Melbourne’s lockdown was extended by a week, in part due to the discovery of five cases of unknown origin, also known as mystery cases, on Wednesday.

There are more than 13,800 close contacts isolating, while the number of exposure sites has surged to almost 350.

Meanwhile, another $367 million has been set aside for Melbourne businesses struggling through the city’s extended sixth lockdown.

The Victorian and Australian governments announced the extra cash for multiple business funds on Thursday.

“This is a package of $367 million to support more than 100,000 predominantly metropolitan Melbourne businesses affected that by a second week of lockdown,” Victorian Industry Support and Recovery Minister Martin Pakula said.

More than $1 billion has been put into business bank accounts since the May-June lockdown, Mr Pakula said.

Thursday’s new money is $271 million for a business costs assistance program which will give $2800 grants to more than 95,000 businesses, a $55 million top-up for the hospitality venue fund, and $41 million to the small business hardship fund.

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