Melbourne Shopping Centre Cluster Swells

Melbourne Shopping Centre Cluster Swells
Members of Victoria Police patrol through Chadstone Shopping Centre on September 20, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Victorian health authorities insist a popular Melbourne shopping centre is safe for visitors as a COVID-19 cluster linked to the site swells.

Of Thursday’s 15 reported cases, four were linked to the Chadstone shopping centre outbreak that has now grown to eight people and includes a family in Frankston.

Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said the centre had been deep cleaned and relevant staff contact traced.

“It is perfectly safe to go back into Chadstone at this time,” Cheng said.

Anyone who visited the centre, particularly the fresh food precinct, the Butcher Club and Coles last week, has been urged to be on alert for any COVID-19 symptoms.

A testing site was due to open at the shopping centre on Oct 1.

It came as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he’s confident in the state’s overhauled hotel quarantine program, despite reports subcontracted staff were hurriedly stood down due to infection control concerns.

Staff from Spotless were replaced by police mid-shift on Wednesday at the Novotel in Southbank, after a healthcare worker told The Age she feared their practices would lead to further COVID-19 outbreaks.

Victoria’s hotel quarantine program was overhauled in June after private security guards caught the virus from returned travellers and spread it into the community, sparking the state’s devastating second wave.

The premier said the government had learned from mistakes made in the first iteration of the program.

He said the workers were taken off shift as part of a “transition to a new set of arrangements that is unfolding”.

Nine hotel quarantine workers have tested positive to coronavirus since the overhaul, including five Spotless employees.

The Victorian government maintains they didn’t contract the virus at work, with the inquiry investigating the infections.

Victoria had a day of mixed COVID-19 milestones on Thursday, notching 800 deaths as active cases fell below 300 for the first time since June 29.