Victoria Has No New Virus Cases or Deaths

By AAP
October 25, 2020 Updated: October 25, 2020

Victoria has a clean COVID-19 sheet for the first time since June 9, with no deaths and no new cases.

Melbourne’s rolling case average is down to 3.6 and there are only seven mystery cases from October 10-23.

The corresponding figures for regional areas are 0.2 and zero.

It is much-needed good news for Victoria after Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that the further easing of restrictions is on hold because of the northern suburbs outbreak.

Department of Health and Human Services testing boss Jeroen Weimar has confirmed that there have been no new cases linked to the outbreak, which stands at 39.

“This is one of the best outcomes we could hope to see,” he said.

“The only reason we’re able to see it is because such a large number of people across the northern suburbs have taken the time since this outbreak was first identified to get tested.”

He said since last Tuesday, there had been nearly 15,000 tests in the area.

But the family at the centre of Melbourne’s coronavirus cluster is frustrated with health authorities, saying there had been mixed messages about when people could leave isolation.

A family member says the Department of Health and Human Services cleared the family to leave isolation two days before a child attended school while infectious, sparking the outbreak.

The family, which has asked not to be named, told The Age that the boy was not warned he should stay isolated.

The DHHS has been contacted for comment.

After foreshadowing “significant” rule changes for most of last week, Andrews hit pause on Sunday to await the results of more than 1000 key tests from the city’s north.

“We have results for the 2,100 people who got tested yesterday and there are hundreds more samples going through the labs over the course of the day,” Weimar said.

“Testing continued into the evening last night and we expect to see those results come through today. Testing in these five (northern suburb) communities will continue to be a focus.”

Weimar added more than 380 people had been contacted in the area over the weekend about the potential exposures.

Weimar said about 250 close contacts had also been tested on Saturday, with a further 60 being followed up on Sunday.

Six of the seven infections reported on Sunday were linked to the cluster.

Andrews acknowledged the community would be frustrated by the “cautious pause” of 24 to 48 hours, but still hopes to unveil rule changes for Melbourne by Tuesday.

Former Victorian health minister Jenny Mikakos said Sunday’s delay was “unnecessary” after hitting the five-case benchmark, and was evidence of “paralysis in decision-making”.

Andrews would not be drawn on her comments, while chief health officer Brett Sutton noted she and other detractors were not “in the tent”.

Mikakos hit out again on Sunday night, tweeting: “Critical thinking is allowed. We’re not the US.”

Less surprisingly, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and federal Health Minister Greg Hunt were among public critics of the pause.

They said the decision to keep businesses closed suggested the Victorian government did not have “sufficient confidence” in its contact tracing system to manage future outbreaks.

There was some good news for regional Victoria, however, with restrictions to be wound back for some businesses and activities from 11.59pm on Tuesday.

Callum Godde in Melbourne