Two more Victorians with reported links to a bayside Thai restaurant have tested positive to coronavirus in New South Wales (NSW).
The duo left Victoria on Dec. 30 and travelled to the south coast, visiting a hotel and cafe before getting tested in NSW, that state’s chief health officer Kerry Chant said on Friday.
The two are back in Victoria now and understood to be among 170 close contacts of eight earlier locally transmitted cases, believed to be linked back to outbreaks in NSW.
It was not immediately clear when they were notified about being close contacts.
They are not yet officially counted in Victoria’s community transmission case numbers, which remain at eight.
Victorian testing manager Jeroen Weimar said all eight cases are connected, with links back to the Buffalo Smile Thai restaurant in Black Rock where three of the positive cases dined.
“We now have two separate groups of people who are unknown to each other who were adjacent with each other in the restaurant,” he said.
A NSW returned traveller was also at that restaurant.
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley said that was the primary line of investigation for the outbreak.
No link has been found between the eight cases and any other known infections and genomic testing is underway to confirm if the traveller is the root of the outbreak.
Weimar said 170 primary contacts of those eight cases are the major concern, and hundreds of secondary contacts are also being asked to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.
“If your primary close contact connection turns out not to have been infectious you will be released from that investigation and you are free to go,” he said.
One of the positive cases recently moved to a holiday rental at Leongatha in the state’s east, widening the area of close contacts.
“Do not think this is just a Bayside suburbs, Mitcham issue. This is not only a Melbourne issue, this is a Victorian issue,” he said.
There was an influx of people rushing to get tested late on Thursday, Weimar said, with many testing stations staying open longer to get through the high numbers.
Five exposure sites are among those authorities are most concerned about, including the Thai restaurant.
Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Holy Family Parish Catholic Church in Doveton, the clubhouse bar at Woodlands Golf Club in Mordialloc, and the Village Cinema at Century City in Glen Waverley are also areas of concern.
On the state’s borders, motorists are facing lengthy queues to enter from NSW as a quarantine deadline looms.
In the state’s west at Genoa, one motorist on Friday reported a wait of almost six hours as a line of hundreds of cars snaked through a checkpoint.
Growing coronavirus case numbers in NSW on Thursday prompted Victorian authorities to impose a hard border from midnight Friday. Anyone arriving after that time must spend a fortnight in quarantine.
Weimar said anyone who is already in line for the border when the hard restriction border comes into force at 11.59 p.m. on Friday will still be allowed to isolate at home.
But those who come after the deadline must quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.
On Thursday acting premier Jacinta Allan reintroduced the mandatory masks requirement for indoors and reduced the number of visitors allowed in Victorian homes down to 15 from 30.
Victorians can continue to return from Canberra with a permit, while more details will be announced for border communities and people who are travelling through NSW to return to Victoria.
By Karen Sweeney