Melbourne Virus Hotspot Home to Cedar Meats, Source of Previous Outbreak

June 24, 2020 Updated: June 24, 2020

The Victorian government has named Brimbank as one of six CCP virus hotspots to avoid in the state’s capital city, Melbourne—it is also home to the Cedar Meats abattoir that had a cluster of 111 COVID-19 cases in April.

In response to the fresh outbreak, authorities have strongly discouraged people from travelling to and from the suburbs of Brimbank, Hume, Casey, Moreland, Cardinia, and Darebin. Testing will be increased in these hotspots.

At present, Cedar Meats has been linked to 111 cases, with 67 staff and 44 close contacts becoming infected.

Although it has been two months since the Cedar Meats outbreak in April, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on June 20 said virus case numbers have been increasing since then.

However, it is in the last 8 days that the Victorian government has been reporting COVID-19 cases in the double digits.

The premier has blamed families for spreading the virus to each other during “big get-togethers and not following the advice around distancing and hygiene.”

“In fact, around half of our cases since the end of April have come from transmission inside someone’s home,” Andrews said.

Victorian Governments Handling of Cedar Meats Outbreak Under Scrutiny

In May, the federal government called for greater transparency from the Victorian government about the CCP virus outbreak at Cedar Meats.

Speaking on 3AW radio on May 7, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said he was concerned by the protocols around the incident and had launched an investigation.

Victoria Health notified his department about the outbreak on April 30, a few days after his department had already found out through “gossip.”

“So it’s important that there is transparency and swift action in notifying, particularly those that come into contact so that we don’t spread this virus,” Littleproud said.

The Victorian Labor government and the Department of Health and Human Services did not name Cedar Meats when first disclosing the outbreak, despite previously having named a school during another outbreak.

This decision was criticised by Liberal opposition leader Michael O’Brien.

O’Brien wrote on Twitter on May 5: “Is this the same meatworks that Daniel Andrews tried to keep secret – despite naming schools, hospitals and aged care homes? Is this the same meatworks that donated $15,000 to Labor just before Daniel Andrews became Premier? You know the answer…”

During April, Cedar Meats sent tonnes of mutton through Victoria and New South Wales to be shipped out a “humanitarian aid” flight to China.

After China sent 37 tonnes of personal protective equipment to Sydney from Wuhan, China on April 8, the mutton was loaded for its return flight the next day.

Victoria Chief Health Officer
Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton in on Melbourne, Australia, on April 27, 2020. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Speaking to 3AW radio on May 6, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the Department of Health had ruled out the possibility the first abattoir worker infected by the virus could have passed it on to others after they had said they not been at the facility for weeks.

Opposition Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Georgie Crozier has called out Andrews for his handling of the Cedar Meats situation, and for blaming families for the second outbreak.

On June 20, Crozier wrote on Twitter: “Why don’t you take responsibility 4 your actions on protests, saying largest #cluster at Cedar Meats was handled “absolutely perfectly”, stuff ups at hotel quarantine with security guards with training & PPE.”

Victoria’s Steady Increase in COVID-19 Cases

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said 241 cases were identified as by community transmission, an increase of eight since Tuesday.

This is the eighth-day of growth in new virus cases, bringing the state’s total number of infections to 1884.

On June 24, a man in his 80s died from COVID-19, he was the twentieth person to succumb to the disease caused by the CCP virus in Victoria, and the first death in Australia in a month; taking the national toll to 103.

Community transmission refers to the fact that the outbreaks of the virus did not come directly from overseas, and the exact locality of contraction is unknown.

Epoch Times reporter Victoria Kelly-Clark contributed to this article.