Melbourne Outbreak Risking Economic Pain: Trade Minister

By AAP
July 2, 2020 Updated: July 2, 2020

The Morrison government is concerned Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak could threaten Australia’s economic recovery.

Dozens of suburbs across the city entered the second day of a reinstated lockdown on July 3 after more than two weeks of double-digit case increases.

Senior cabinet minister Simon Birmingham vowed to put partisanship aside to work with the Victorian Labor government on squashing the disease.

“We have a situation in Victoria that is threatening the economic recovery that is so important for all of us,” he told Sky News on Friday.

“I absolutely fear that this is getting in the way of the economic recovery that is so important to saving the jobs of Australians.”

There were 77 new coronavirus cases detected in Victoria on Thursday.

More than 330 people in the state have contracted the disease without a known source.

Victoria’s Andrews government is under pressure after serious breaches were alleged in hotel quarantine and a coronavirus-infected man left his two-week stint without being tested.

Senator Birmingham said the federal government was not interested in blame games, despite the state opposition calling for Health Minister Jenny Mikakos to be sacked.

“We’re interested in working with Victoria, acknowledging the failings that have happened in Victoria and trying to make sure they get on top of that.”

He wants the outbreak to become a model for dealing with other infection spikes.

Across the rest of the country, there were eight new cases in NSW.

One of those was the supermarket worker who tested positive after spending two weeks in Melbourne hotel quarantine.

Health authorities in the inner-west Sydney suburb of Balmain have urged people to be alert to the disease’s symptoms because of the case.

The man had been in hotel quarantine from June 11 to June 26 after flying from Bangladesh and tested positive on the fourth day of his quarantine period.

He then flew from Melbourne on June 26 and returned to work the next day with his employer noticing he had minor symptoms.

The Northern Territory has also recorded its first case since early April, with the infection linked to one of Melbourne’s hotspots.

Matt Coughlan in Canberra