Victoria Identifies Further COVID-19 Exposure Sites

By AAP
May 24, 2021 Updated: May 24, 2021

Victorian health authorities now have identified 10 exposure sites as they race to contain a Melbourne COVID-19 outbreak.

They hope genomic sequencing will establish the source of four new COVID-19 cases among a family in the city’s north.

Nando’s Epping and Woolworths Epping North joined Jump! Swim Schools Bundoora and Highpoint Shopping Centre as tier one sites, meaning anyone who attended those places at specified times must be tested and isolate for 14 days.

Futsal Brunswick, Epping North Shopping Centre, House and Party at Epping, Urban Diner Food Court at Pacific Epping Shopping Centre, Shells Coles Express Reservoir and B.T. Connor Reserve are tier two sites—meaning affected people must get tested and isolate until they have a negative result.

The family cluster – involving a man in his 30s, a man in his 70s, a woman in her 70s and a pre-school aged child from three households in the Whittlesea area—emerged on Monday.

Health Minister Martin Foley said there was no indication the infections were linked to exposure sites visited by a Victorian man who contracted coronavirus in South Australian hotel quarantine.

The health department last week admitted it had listed the wrong supermarket as an exposure site during the outbreak earlier this month.

With the first Whittlesea man’s infectious period potentially starting on May 18, Mr Foley noted the COVID-infected returned traveller had already re-entered hotel quarantine well before then.

“We do not rule out the prospect that there is a link,” he said.

“The dates do not line up immediately so we cannot rule out if there is a missing link out there.”

Genomic sequencing results may establish if there is a link between the pair and are expected back as early as Tuesday.

More household contacts of the cases have been put into isolation despite testing negative so far.

Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the first Whittlesea man is carrying a high viral load and warned the community to brace for more possible cases.

“He is likely to be quite infectious,” Professor Sutton said.

“We have to ready ourselves for any other positives, and when there are close contacts who do become positive, that raises the possibility that even a casual contact could become positive as well.”

Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong and the Bundoora swimming school were listed as initial exposure sites.

Mr Foley flagged no immediate changes to COVID-19 restrictions, and all domestic borders remain open despite most states and territories issuing updated travel advice for recent Victorian arrivals.

The latest outbreak snapped Victoria’s 86-day streak without a locally acquired case.

 Travellers From Melbourne To NSW Must Confirm No COVID-19 Exposure

Meanwhile travellers to Sydney from Greater Melbourne will be required to confirm on arrival that they have not attended a COVID-19 exposure site after four people in the city’s northern suburbs caught the virus.

NSW Health said in a statement on Monday afternoon that arrivals from Greater Melbourne would be required to complete a declaration form confirming they had not visited an exposure site.

Those in NSW who have been in Victoria since May 10 and attended one of the sites should contact authorities immediately, NSW Health said.

Anyone in NSW who has been in the Whittlesea Local Government Area – which includes Donnybrook, Epping, Lalor, Thomastown and Whittlesea—should also avoid aged care homes.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday called for an increase to the vaccination target.

The premier said her target of 30,000 weekly jabs at the Sydney Olympic Park vaccination hub was exceeded last week, and she wanted that target to be increased by NSW Health.

The mass COVID-19 vaccination centre on Monday also began to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Almost 1.1 million vaccinations have been administered in NSW to date, which includes the parts of the rollout overseen by the Commonwealth.

Berejiklian also said it was too early to discuss whether the COVID-19 cases in Melbourne should prompt a hotspot declaration.