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Victoria records four new cases of Covid bringing Melbourne’s cluster to nine with lockdown looming

Victoria has recorded a further four coronavirus cases on Tuesday afternoon, taking the state’s total to nine as it faces another snap lockdown.

Deputy Premier James Merlino announced in a press conference on Tuesday morning a man in his 60s has tested positive – with a further four since the announcement.

The four new cases are the household contacts of the man who was confirmed positive on Tuesday morning.

Deputy Premier Merlino said testing determined the new case was linked to the outbreak in the Whittlesea area and that the man was isolating at home. 

The Victorian Department of Health have identified 168 primary close contacts as of Tuesday afternoon, with 84 testing negative. 

The Western Bulldogs AFL team and its staff are also isolating at home awaiting test results after an employee at the club attended Highpoint shopping centre – a site of exposure for the new coronavirus cases.

About two dozen venues visited by Covid-infected patients have now added to the state’s public exposure site list.

Victoria has recorded a further four coronavirus cases on Tuesday afternoon, taking the state’s total to nine as it faces another snap lockdown 

Deputy Premier James Merlino confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday morning a man in his 60s has tested positive, bringing the state's cases from the latest cluster to five

Deputy Premier James Merlino confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday morning a man in his 60s has tested positive, bringing the state’s cases from the latest cluster to five

EXPOSURE SITES IN MELBOURNE

Tier one; Anyone who visited the below sites must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result  

Woolworths Epping North, between 4:45pm – 5:45pm on May 22.

Jump! Swim Schools Bundoora, between 8:55am-10:15am on May 21.

Nando’s Epping (Dalton Rd), between 8:30pm -9:20pm on May 19.

Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong, 5pm – 8pm on May 20.

McDonald’s, Clifton Hill, between 6pm-7pm on May 22.

Nando’s, Epping (Dalton Rd), between 8:30pm-9:20pm on May 19.

Smiggle, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong, between 5:55pm – 6:30pm on May 20.

Kidstuff, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong, between 5:20pm – 5:55pm on May 20.

Ishka, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong, between 5:45pm- 6:35pm on May 20.

Lush Cosmetics, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong, between 6:05pm – 6:35pm on May 20.

Toyworld, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong, between 5:30pm – 6:20pm on May 20.

Bamboo House, Melbourne, between 11:00am – 11:50am on May 21.

Tier 2: Anyone who attended the following sites at the times listed must get tested and isolate until a negative result or further advice

Futsal Brunswick, between 9:00am – 10:00am on May 23

Epping North Shopping Centre, between 4:45pm – 5:50pm on May 22

House and Party (store), Epping, between 5:15pm – 5:50pm on May 22.

Urban Diner Food Court, Pacific Epping Shopping Centre, 1:15pm – 2:30pm on May 23.

Shell Coles Express Reservoir, 3:15pm – 4:15pm on May 18.

B.T. Connor Reserve, 8:00pm – 11:30pm on May 21.

ALDI, Epping, 6pm-7:30pm on May 23.

Chemist Depot at Pacific Epping Shopping Centre. Epping, between 11:15am – 12:00pm on May 23.

Highpoint Shopping Centre (Levels 2 and 3), Maribyrnong, between 5:15pm – 6:35pm on May 20.

Adams Reserve Playground, Preston, between 2:15pm – 3:45pm on May 23.

ALDI Preston South, Preston, between 3:45pm – 4:25pm on May 23.

 

Melbourne brought back a number of strict restrictions in response to the outbreak.

The new measures include masks to be worn indoors in the greater Melbourne area, indoor gatherings limited to five visitors and a maximum of 30 people to gather outside from 6pm Tuesday.

Schools and workplaces will remain open. Students and workers must wear masks at all times while indoors, including during classes, unless under the age of 12. 

Any residents of Melbourne travelling out of the area must carry the new restrictions with them. 

‘These are the measures that are here to protect you, your loved ones and the entire community,’ Deputy Premier Merlino said. 

It’s not yet clear whether these restrictions will increase after news of the four further confirmed cases. 

The new measures include masks to be worn indoors in the greater Melbourne area, indoor gatherings limited to five visitors and a maximum of 30 people to gather outside

The new measures include masks to be worn indoors in the greater Melbourne area, indoor gatherings limited to five visitors and a maximum of 30 people to gather outside

New restrictions in Melbourne:

  • Maximum of five visitors per household 
  • Maximum of 30 people gathering outside
  • Masks must be worn indoors and on public transport
  • People travelling from Melbourne to other areas must carry restrictions with them 
  • Schools and workplaces will remain open with the new restrictions applied 
  • Dancefloors remain open but people must wear masks while dancing 

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the new case was symptomatic at the time of his testing and they are investigating another ‘intermediary’ link.  

‘His initial recollections don’t overlap with any of the Wollert case’s exposure sites, so there’s no definitive link to that Wollert case even though we know that there’s a genomic link, so there may still be another intermediary,’ he said.

‘We need to explore that, but we need to finish the very lengthy, very detailed interview with that case this morning.’

He confirmed the case is from the Indian variant and said there could still be cases in the community.

‘It’s possible there’s another missing link out there,’ Professor Sutton said. 

The Public Events panel are currently deciding what to do in regards to sports crowds and will advise in the coming days. 

The AFL are still hoping to allow crowds for the upcoming weekend’s fixtures, with only the Adelaide Crows having to travel into the city. 

There are no immediate changes to rules surrounding bars and restaurants. 

Dancefloors remain open but people must wear masks while dancing. 

Masks must be worn if not eating or drinking, which also applies to weddings and funerals. 

The Victorian Government say they expect the exposure site list to expand based on the new case and are set to announce the new list. 

Contact tracers are battling to contain a potential outbreak after the positive test results were confirmed in the city’s northern suburbs – marking the first locally acquired transmissions in 86 days. 

Confirmed infections include man aged in his 30s, another man in his 70s, a woman in her 70s and a preschool-aged child from the Whittlesea area on Melbourne’s northern outskirts.  

Deputy Premier Merlino says genomic testing confirmed the new case is linked to the outbreak in the Whittlesea area. He is currently isolating as are his household contacts

Deputy Premier Merlino says genomic testing confirmed the new case is linked to the outbreak in the Whittlesea area. He is currently isolating as are his household contacts

A fifth case of coronavirus has emerged as a result of the Whittlesea outbreak as a man aged in his 60s tests positive on Tuesday

A fifth case of coronavirus has emerged as a result of the Whittlesea outbreak as a man aged in his 60s tests positive on Tuesday

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the new infections are a stark warning to the community.

‘You can see how Covid can be transmitted in the community because it can be a mild disease and, therefore, go undetected,’ she said on Monday. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will not shut the border between the two states, but people travelling from Victoria to Sydney will be asked on arrival whether they have visited an exposure site.

A declaration form is also available on the Service NSW website and must be completed upon entry.  

Authorities have also told anyone who has visited the Whittlesea area to avoid visiting aged care facilities or hospitals.

The Whittlesea area includes the suburbs of Beveridge, Donnybrook, Doreen, Eden Park, Epping, Humevale, Kinglake West, Lalor, Mernda, Mill Park, South Morang, Thomastown, Whittlesea, Wollert, Woodstock and Yan Yean. 

Chief health officer Brett Sutton has warned Australians to be on alert for further outbreaks during the colder months. 

‘The transmission potential will be greater now than it was when we spent more time outdoors, where we distanced better, where we wore masks more often,’ he said.

‘All of those behaviours are useful to remind ourselves and really try and do that again, especially in the couple of weeks ahead of us.’

All four new cases in Victoria are from the same family across two households, and Mr Sutton warned at least one of the cases is ‘likely to be quite infectious’.   

‘We have to ready ourselves for any other positives and when there are close contacts who do become positive, that raises the possibility that even a casual contact could become positive as well.’ 

Anyone who attended Nando's Epping (pictured) in Melbourne's north on May 19 between 8.30pm and 9.20pm must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result

Anyone who attended Nando’s Epping (pictured) in Melbourne’s north on May 19 between 8.30pm and 9.20pm must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result

Victoria records four new cases of Covid bringing Melbourne's cluster to nine with lockdown looming

On Tuesday morning, South Australia imposed fresh border restrictions on Victorians from key sites linked to new Covid-19 cases.

The state will stop travellers who visited a number of locations in Melbourne’s north from crossing the border, and anyone in SA who recently visited those sites must self-isolate for 14 days and get tested three times.

Less severe measures have been imposed for anyone who visited the City of Whittlesea, with those arrivals required to have a test within 24 hours and isolate until they receive a negative result. 

South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said on Monday the cases were a reminder that even though Australia had done well in containing the virus, the potential for a significant outbreak remained.

Hundreds of Melburnians were ordered to immediately get tested and self-isolate as a host of venues were identified as sites visited by infected cases, including Epping North Woolworths, Epping Nando’s restaurant and the popular Highpoint shopping centre food court. 

More potential exposure sites are expected to be revealed as the desperate search to track down the mysterious source of the infection ramps up. 

There are also growing fears of a contact tracing bungle after health officials listed  the wrong supermarket as a potential exposure site.

Anyone who attended Woolworths Epping North (pictured) on May 22 between 4.45pm-5:45pm must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days

Anyone who attended Woolworths Epping North (pictured) on May 22 between 4.45pm-5:45pm must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days

Pictured: People at a vaccine hub in Sydney on May 24. Borders between NSW and Victoria remain open despite the new cases

Pictured: People at a vaccine hub in Sydney on May 24. Borders between NSW and Victoria remain open despite the new cases

Any diners who attended Nando’s Epping on May 19 between 8.30pm and 9.20pm must get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.

The same order applies to anyone who attended Woolworths Epping North on May 22 between 4.45pm-5:45pm. 

A host of tier two sites were also listed late Monday night, where anyone who attended at the specific times must get tested and self-isolate until they get a negative result.

They include anyone who was inside the Urban Diner Food Court at Pacific Epping Shopping Centre on Sunday May 23 between 1.15pm-2.30pm. 

An infected case also attended Epping North Shopping Centre on May 22 between 4:45pm and 5:50pm, where they visited the House and Party store between 5.15pm-5:50pm.

An infected case also visited Shell Coles Express in Reservoir on May 18 between 3.15pm-4.15pm. 

Anyone who attended the Preston Lions vs Whittlesea NPL football match on the night of May 21 at B.T. Connor Reserve in Reservoir must also get tested and isolate until further notice.

Those who attended Futsal Brunswick between 9am-10am on Sunday must also be on high alert.

Woolworths Epping North is the same supermarket where a Wollert man who tested positive earlier this month had attended almost two weeks ago.

The Victorian Department of Health are now asking visitors to the Jump! Swim School, in Bundoora, Melbourne's north-east, between 8.55am and 10.15am on May 21 to get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days

The Victorian Department of Health are now asking visitors to the Jump! Swim School, in Bundoora, Melbourne’s north-east, between 8.55am and 10.15am on May 21 to get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days

A health spokeswoman said authorities are yet to establish whether the previous and most recent case who visited the store on May 22 were linked to one another. 

Health officials were forced to admit last Friday they incorrectly listed a Woolworths store in Epping, rather than Epping North, as an exposure site visited by the Wollert man earlier this month.

The error was detected after wastewater testing detected traces of the virus in the area.

Opposition leader Michael O’Brien slammed the Victoria government over the contract tracing bungle.

‘We’ve got the government making basic errors over the locations of supermarkets, and those basic errors are putting all of us at risk and that is just not acceptable,’ Mr O’Brien said.

‘This is a government that created a second wave through its own incompetence. 

‘They promised us they learnt the lessons and it seems they haven’t.

‘If we get another outbreak in Melbourne because this government didn’t do the basics right then frankly the Health Minister and other ministers need to lose their jobs.’

Hundreds of Melburnians flocked to testing clinics on Monday after the city recorded four new Covd clinic. Pictured is the drive-through clinic at Royal Melbourne Showgrounds

Hundreds of Melburnians flocked to testing clinics on Monday after the city recorded four new Covd clinic. Pictured is the drive-through clinic at Royal Melbourne Showgrounds

Earlier on Monday, the Department of Health urged visitors to the Jump! Swim School, in Bundoora, Melbourne’s north-east, between 8.55am and 10.15am on May 21 to get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days.

It comes after the infected woman and preschool-aged child attended the facility for a swimming lesson.

The pool has been closed until further notice to undergo a deep clean. 

Thousands of shoppers are also at risk after one of the infected men visited Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong on May 20 between 5pm and 8pm. 

Shoppers who attended the centre at the identified times are required to get tested and isolate until further notice.

Contract tracers are currently retrieving information about which stores the infected case visited.

‘Highpoint Shopping Centre is a very big place,’ Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters on Monday.

‘We are getting further advice from the gentleman is to specifically where the visitations were in Highpoint Shopping Centre.

‘Getting the information out was really critical and then as further detailed information becomes available, we will update that site.’

The shopping centre said it is ramping up its cleaning regimes throughout all high traffic areas. 

Genomic sequencing is due back on Tuesday, which will help determine if the cases are linked to the infected man from Wollert who flew to Melbourne from South Australian hotel quarantine earlier this month.

Mr Foley said the dates didn’t add up but refused to rule out a possible link.

‘Given the proximity of the gentleman from early May who returned from hotel quarantine in Adelaide who lives in that city, we do not rule out the prospect that there is a link,’ he said. 

The other potential exposure site is the High Point Shopping Centre in Maryibyrnong (pictured), between 5pm and 8pm on May 20. Shoppers who attended the centre at the identified times are required to get tested and isolate until further notice

The other potential exposure site is the High Point Shopping Centre in Maryibyrnong (pictured), between 5pm and 8pm on May 20. Shoppers who attended the centre at the identified times are required to get tested and isolate until further notice

‘The dates do not line up immediately so we cannot rule out if there is a missing link out there.’ 

‘We are concerned, without a doubt, this is not a time to be complacent.’ 

The mysterious new cases are close family members, living in two separate houses.

Health authorities were alerted to the cluster after a Whittlesea man presented for testing on Sunday. He and an asymptomatic male relative from a separate household both tested positive.

A woman and the Whittlesea man’s preschool-aged child have also since been confirmed as Covid-19 positive.   

The health minister said they would have more information on Tuesday after further conversations are conducted with the close contacts of the new cases. 

‘Based off initial interviews and intelligence and are likely to be subject to further expansion as conversations with the cases and close contacts evolves,’ Mr Foley said.

Commuters wear face masks in Melbourne on Monday, after it was revealed the state had identified new local Covid cases

Commuters wear face masks in Melbourne on Monday, after it was revealed the state had identified new local Covid cases 

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton expects further exposure sites will be identified.   

‘Obviously we are going into a period where people spend more time indoors and are in closer proximity… We are three months, as we just heard, away from local community transmission. 

Melburnians flocked to testing facilities across the city on Monday, with 15 sites experiencing estimated wait times exceeding 30 minutes. 

There were hour-long delays at drive-through test clinics in Sandringham, Epping, Heidelberg, and Watirna, and 45minute wait times at the Banyule Community Health facility in Greensborough and at Monash University in Clayton. 

By Monday night, wait times at the Hampstead Road Covid-19 testing site blew out to two-and-half hours as other testing sites remained open for longer due to the overwhelming demand. 

There were hour-long queues at drive-through test clinics across Melbourne on Monday. Pictured are health workers at Royal Melbourne Showgrounds

There were hour-long queues at drive-through test clinics across Melbourne on Monday. Pictured are health workers at Royal Melbourne Showgrounds

Mr Foley stressed there are currently no plans for Melbourne to go into lockdown at this stage.  

Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales responded to Melbourne’s outbreak on Monday night.

Anyone in Queensland who has been to one of the declared COVID-19 exposure sites in Victoria during the risk period specified will be required to quarantine. 

From 1am Wednesday, anyone who enters Queensland and has been to any of the Victorian exposure sites at the time specified will need to quarantine for 14 days in government-arranged accommodation. 

Western Australia has also announced similar rules. 

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