Australia

Victoria records another five local COVID-19 cases as thousands of Melburnians told to get tested and isolate

Victoria has recorded 10 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases over 24 hours, as of Wednesday morning.

However, the latest cases include five infections previously reported on Tuesday, with the latest update bringing the number of active cases in the state to 23.

It comes as the government warns that one of the infected people in the growing coronavirus cluster in Melbourne’s north attended an AFL match on the weekend.

While the outbreak started in the northern suburbs, country Bendigo and Port Melbourne now feature among 43 exposure sites listed on the state health department’s website – well up on Tuesday’s 10.

The infected fan was at the Collingwood-Port Adelaide game at the MCG on Sunday 23 May, sitting in Zone 4, Level 1 of the Great Southern Stand at the Punt Road end.

Spectators who sat in the same area are being contacted by Victoria’s Health Department using data from tickets and QR codes. They will have to get tested and isolate until they test negative.

Others who sat in the surrounding area are being told to go for testing if they develop symptoms.

“Further reviews of CCTV footage will be undertaken to determine if the advice to test and isolate will be broadened beyond these areas,” the department said in a tweet early on Wednesday morning.

Authorities sought to reassure people who attended the gaming, saying the AFL and MCC had “prepared for this situation in multiple simulations.”

Virus spreading beyond Whittlesea

While COVID-19 restrictions were ramped up in Melbourne on Tuesday, more could be on the way as authorities struggle to rein in the outbreak, which started at Whittlesea in the city’s north.

The 43 exposure sites now include tier one locations in Coburg and Fitzroy, as well as Port Melbourne.

A bar at inner-suburban Prahran also posted on social media that it is now listed as a tier 1b exposure site.

RMIT has revealed that an external contractor who visited the university last Friday has since tested positive for COVID-19.

The growing number of exposure sites and their locations show the virus potentially spreading well beyond Whittlesea and surrounding areas.

In response to the unfolding outbreak, home gatherings are now limited to five visitors per day and public gatherings restricted to 30 people until at least 4 June.

Masks are mandatory indoors for people 12 and over, but can be taken off for eating, drinking and exercise.

Schools and workplaces remain open, as are shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs and existing density limits apply.

The restrictions apply to Greater Melbourne, or people travelling into regional Victoria.

“This is about giving our contact tracers the time that they need to track this matter down and get on top of it,” Acting Premier James Merlino said.

A public health advisory panel will soon decide if further restrictions are needed for large events including AFL games and the RISING festival, which is due to begin on Wednesday.

The Western Bulldogs have already had their weekly preparations interrupted, with the AFL club’s players and staff forced into isolation after an employee attended an exposure site.

Pending negative test results being received overnight on Tuesday, the Bulldogs expected players and staff to return to training on Wednesday.

Outbreak linked to man who contracted virus in hotel quarantine

Genomic sequencing shows the outbreak is linked to the case of a Wollert man, who contracted the virus in South Australian quarantine earlier this month.

The man, in his 60s, could be the possible “source case” for the City of Whittlesea outbreak, although a definitive link is yet to be established.

Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have all significantly tightened their borders to Victoria while stopping short of completely slamming them shut for most travellers.



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