Melbourne Cluster Worries, Police on Alert

By AAP
September 18, 2020 Updated: September 18, 2020

As contact tracers tackle a COVID-19 cluster in outer-Melbourne, anti-lockdown protesters are preparing to defy restrictions yet again.

Premier Daniel Andrews has urged anti-lockdown protesters not to gather following reports of more planned protests in the city on Sept 19.

It is unclear exactly where the demonstrations will be, with protesters taking caution not to make their plans easily accessible online.

There have already been a number of rallies over the past several weekends, with police responding with a heavy presence, handing out dozens of fines and making arrests.

Victoria Police has spoken out regularly on the protests, saying they take valuable policing resources away from other areas.

Andrews tried to dissuade protesters on Friday, saying their intended actions would be selfish and irresponsible.

“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this week we have seen, day after day, not the 725 cases we had five and a half weeks ago – we have made very significant progress,” he said.

“We’ve got regional Victoria opening up. People should be positive and optimistic this strategy is working, and therefore, let’s not any of us do anything to undermine that.”

Meanwhile, public health authorities are racing to stop infections growing in the Casey and Dandenong council areas on the Melbourne’s southeast rim, which now has 90 active cases.

Five households in Clyde, Cranbourne North, Hallam and Narre Warren South are linked to 34 active cases.

Contact tracers discovered members of each house had been breaching the 5km travel limit for visits.

“Five kilometres is one thing, visiting other peoples’ homes is the real issue here,” Andrews told reporters on Friday.

A special team has been created to stop the cluster in its tracks, with the government saying it is in conversation with local community members and leaders.

Other cases in the area are linked to workplaces, including nine connected to a truck manufacturer and six to Dandenong Police Station.

Despite the cluster, the state’s 14-day rolling infection average continues to improve, dropping to 42.7 for Melbourne and 2.3 for regional Victoria.

In the 24 hours to Friday, Victoria recorded 45 new infections and five deaths.

The state’s death toll is 750 and the national figure is 837.

Since Thursday regional Victorians have been able to socialise more freely and leave home for any reason. Businesses such as cafes, restaurants and beauty services have been able to re-open.

There have been traffic delays on key arterial roads out of Melbourne as police seek to protect the regions from virus spread.

By Andi Yu in Melbourne