Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed that a total of 160 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel would be sent to Victoria to assist with the state’s lockdown enforcement at the request of acting premier James Merlino.
The total cases linked to the Whittlesea cluster of CCP virus has grown to 45, with five new cases recorded in the past 24 hours.
The cluster has caused a seven-day lockdown of Victoria, which is the fourth time the state has entered into a lockdown in 15 months. More than 15,000 primary and secondary contacts have been told to self-isolate. The exposure sites on the list have grown to 290 over the past week.
“I want to welcome the PM’s comment that the Commonwealth will be working hand in glove with Victorian authorities,” Merlino told reporters.
“I want to thank him for that and to that end, there is some additional assistance that we require, and I’ve contacted the PM this morning; we’ll be putting a formal request through for additional ADF staff.
“The request will be for around 160 ADF staff for at least the next fortnight to assist our authorised offices in doorknocking positive cases, doorknocking primary close contacts,
“Having 160 ADF staff over the next couple of weeks effectively doubles the capacity to do that work and ensure that people are doing the right thing.”
Authorised officers checking on self-isolating people will work in pairs, and additional support will be offered to them while working, Merlino said.
Five exposure sites are most concerned by the authorities: The Sporting Globe in Mordialloc, the Three Monkeys Bar and Somewhere Bar in Prahran, The Local in Port Melbourne, and The Palace Hotel in South Melbourne.
“If you’ve been to those locations, you’ve been out partying with somebody who was COVID-positive,” Jeroen Weimar, the testing chief of Victoria, said.
Vicotria carried out 45 301 COVID-19 tests on Thursday, with 16,752 getting a vaccination.
The lockdown is estimated to cost Victoria a $1 billion loss in economic revenue.