Australian officials say too early to make call on ending Victoria lockdown

Cheryl Sanders
February 15, 2021

As per the latest known data, there are now 966 primary contacts of patients identified linked to the hotel quarantine outbreak which stands at 14 cases.

Australia's second most populous state Victoria entered a five-day lockdown on Saturday (Feb 13) as authorities raced to prevent a third wave of Covid-19 cases sparked by the highly infectious United Kingdom variant.

"These restrictions are all about making sure that we respond appropriately to the fastest-moving, most infectious strain of coronavirus that we have seen", Andrews told a hastily organised press conference Friday after the number of cases linked to a quarantine hotel at Melbourne airport rose overnight.

Professor Esterman was speaking after Victoria entered its third day of a snap five-day lockdown triggered by a cluster at a quarantine hotel.

Play at six warm-up tournaments in Melbourne was also suspended for a day last week when a worker tested positive at one of the official hotels.

He said Victoria's worse situation comparatively could be attributed to bad luck, but potentially also to differences in the quarantine program management.

Since then, the worker's partner and housemate, the three-year-old child and the woman in her 50s have tested positive.

It was a devastating setback for residents and businesses who underwent a similar lockdown in and around Melbourne for more than 100 days late previous year in a successful effort to contain an earlier outbreak that infected thousands and killed about 800. Others among the 38 at that event are in isolation and being tested.

"Serology is being done and we will work out over the next few hours exactly where this individual stands", Weimar said.

Three Melbourne tram routes and the main fruit and vegetable section at the Queen Victoria Market have been added to the expanding list of COVID-19 exposure sites.

"We can not afford to be wrong here".

The Premier said these most recent cases confirmed the importance of Victoria's "circuit breaker" lockdown, as they were not part of the primary or secondary rings connected to the outbreak.

The wards and services the woman has been involved with have been shut down, according to Mr Andrews, and preliminary and secondary close contacts have been told to isolate.

The Premier also suggested recent hotel quarantine infection control breaches around Australia had highlighted the difficulties of containing the United Kingdom strain and changes may be needed.

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

That suggestion was denied by CQV chief Emma Cassar, with Foley refusing to be drawn into the controversy on Sunday.

Authorities are working to track down 5000 people who passed through Melbourne Airport's Terminal 4 after a case worked at Brunetti cafe while infectious on February 9 between 4.45am and 1.15pm.

Meanwhile, a tennis player from Greece who participated in the ATP Cup in Australia in early February tested positive for COVID-19 while in South Africa.

However, Prof Sutton suspects the case is a false positive.

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