COVID Outbreak at Melbourne Meat Facility

May 2, 2020 Updated: May 2, 2020

A COVID-19 cluster has been uncovered at a Melbourne meat processor, amid warnings Victoria’s progress against the pandemic remains “incredibly fragile”.

Seven new cases have been confirmed across the state, including a paramedic, bringing the total number of infections to 1371.

It came as Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on May 2 revealed eight staff members at a meat processing facility in Melbourne had tested positive to COVID-19, including three overnight.

The business, which she refused to identify, closed on Friday for cleaning and all staff were being tested.

“I have no hesitation in naming a facility if I think that that is in the public interest,” Mikakos told reporters, when pressed to provide further details.

She stressed there were no concerns about food safety or risk to the broader community.

Another of the seven new confirmed cases is a paramedic.

The paramedic did not catch the virus from a patient and is recovering well in isolation.

Five colleagues were also being isolated as a precaution, Ambulance Victoria said.

“This does not mean they have COVID-19; rather, it reflects our conservative approach to the safety and well-being of our staff and patients,” the organisation said.

A returned traveller in isolation at a hotel is also among the state’s latest COVID-19 patients.

“The fact that we’ve had seven new cases overnight does demonstrate that the situation is still incredibly fragile,” Mikakos said.

It comes after a COVID-19 cluster was identified at the Hawthorn Grange aged care home in Melbourne’s east, with four residents and one staff member infected.

All but 71 patients who have caught the virus across Victoria since the outbreak began are recovered.

Of the overall cases, 141 indicate community transmission. This means someone has been infected without going overseas or coming into contact with another confirmed case.

Twelve people remain in hospital with the virus, including seven in intensive care, while more than 129,000 have been tested.

Victoria’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 18.

Restrictions on social gatherings and movement are beginning to ease across parts of Australia. But Victoria is not expected to relax its measures to suppress the spread of COVID-19 before a state of emergency is due to expire on May 11.

Police doled out 30 fines in the past 24 hours, including to seven people gathered for a birthday party as well as others busted for criminal offences including drugs.

By Georgie Moore