Health authorities say it is too early to tell if Victorias circuit-breaker has been successful. Meanwhile, four new locations have added to the growing list of exposure sites.Queen Victoria Market and multiple tram routes have been added to a growing list of Victoria’s COVID-19 exposure sites.
On Sunday afternoon, health authorities listed locations across Docklands and Melbourne’s CBD after a positive case used a number of trams and visited the Queen Victoria Market.
The sites were added to Victoria’s “tier 1” public exposure sites list meaning anyone who visited the venues at the times outlined is advised to isolate, get a COVID-19 test and remain isolated for 14 days.
The new sites include;
– Melbourne: Yarra Trams No. 11 (Start: D16 – Harbour Esplanade / Collins Street. Finish: William Street / Collins Street #3) 11.02.21 from 7:55am – 8:10am.
– Melbourne: Yarra Trams No. 58 (Start: Bourke Street / William Street #5. Finish: Queen Victoria Market / Peel Street #9). 11.02.21 from 8.10am – 8:25am.
– Melbourne: Queen Victoria Market, Queen Street Melbourne. 11.02.21 from 8:25am – 10:10am.
– Melbourne: Yarra Trams No. 58 (Start: Queen Victoria Market / Peel Street #9. Finish: Bourke Street / William Street #5). 11.02.21 from 9:40am – 9:55am. Case used tram no. 58
The mother of a three-year-old child who tested positive could be a potential case after returning three different test results in 24 hours.
The child, along with a woman from a separate household, is among Victoria’s two newest cases of local transmission after attending a family function at a Sydney Rd venue in Coburg.
A hotel quarantine worker who tested positive on Sunday was also present at the event.
Testing commander Jeroen Weimar said medical experts were working to ascertain whether the infected child’s mother was at the beginning or end of her infectious period.
“Our epidemiologists and specialists are working with her and with our labs to be clear about the nature of what possible infection she may have, whether she is at the start of our infectious period or whether she is coming towards the end,” he said.
“Serology is being done and we will work out over the next few hours exactly where this individual stands.
“She does have some workplace contacts, particularly with Alfred Health and we are working closely with them to do preliminary testing, precautionary testing of her potential contacts … Some of it has been done already, a control process in place to manage that.
“And again, if this does turn out to be a possible case then we already have those appropriate steps on hand to work through.”
Both the local cases revealed on Sunday were linked to the Holiday Inn cluster, which now totals at 16 cases, health minister Martin Foley said.
“(Both) attended a private dining venue in Sydney Rd, Coburg, on the night of February 6 … Both have been in isolation since February 12 and both tested and returned a positive sample in isolation on February 13,” he said.
Mr Foley said the number of primary close contacts identified from the Holiday Inn cluster had been reduced from 996 to 940.
“This number will fluctuate up and down as some sites are added to the tier one exposure sites and others are cleared as a result of the work of contact tracers,” he said.
The health minister said 129 of almost 1000 close contacts identified by contact tracing efforts were direct family relations to those who tested positive from the Holiday Inn cluster.
Health authorities refused to rule out an extension to the five-day lockdown.
“It is too early to say whether we have been successful, but the signs show Victorians are doing the right thing, supporting each other, and our test, trace and isolate system is staying ahead of this,” Mr Foley said
“But it is too early to say as yet whether this fantastic effort by all Victorians has got us there.
“We will continue to monitor it on a day-by-day basis, really it is up to the shared effort of all Victorians.”
Mr Foley said more than 4,000,000 coronavirus tests had been processed since January 1, with pathology labs now screening about 14,000 tests per day compared to about 4000 in October 2020.
“Our testing capacity has more than tripled,” the health minister said.
Testing commander Jeroen Weimar said Camberwell Grammar and Avondale Heights schools were cleared as outbreak sites after all students returned negative results.
All workers at Brunetti’s at Melbourne Airport terminal four have all returned negative results, while 13 of the cafe’s 15 customers have also returned negative coronavirus tests.
Mr Weimar urged residents living near wastewater catchments in Coburg, Coburg North and Reservoir, South Melbourne and Southbank to get tested and isolate.
The health minister said Premier Daniel Andrews was not present at today’s press conference because he was attending meetings and working from home.
“He is deeply engaged in the management of this cluster, I know that,” Mr Foley said.
“He has several meetings on this issue over the course of the day and if you can work from home, you should work from home,” he said.
Dozens of people attended the Coburg function linked to the two new cases revealed on Sunday.
Health authorities said 38 people gathered at the event on Saturday, February 6.
“A number of positive cases have been traced back to this event,” Mr Weimar said.
Mr Weimar rejected claims a woman aged in her 50s was not in isolation while infectious, despite being linked to the Coburg function cluster.
“The staff member was identified on Wednesday and tested positive on Wednesday this week, that is February 10,” Mr Weimar said.
“At that point, the social contact point of the Saturday was not identified in those early conversations.”
“There was a negative test result that she returned as part of her normal workplace testing on the seventh but that has since been reviewed and that test is now a week positive and we have had to take the timeline back to include the sixth.”
“The genomics is clear that this is all part of the same strain,” Mr Weimar said.
Mr Weimar said the proprietor of the private Coburg venue would not be slapped with fines for possibly not adhering to COVID-safe measures, in order to ensure everyone in attendance came forward to assist with contact tracing.
“I’m not remotely interested in who did what at what time,” Mr Weimar said.
More exposure sites were uncovered in Melbourne’s north overnight.
On Sunday morning, health authorities listed locations in Pascoe Vale and Broadmeadows as additional potential exposure sites, including Broadmeadows Woolworths.
A positive case attended the supermarket at Broadmeadows Central between 12.15pm and 12.30pm on February 9.
The case also attended Pascoe Vale Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre between 4pm and 7.30pm on February 10, and Elite Swimming in Pascoe Vale between 5pm and 6pm on February 8.
Broadmeadows Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse on Pascoe Vale Road has also been deemed an exposure site, with a positive case inside the venue between 12.30pm and 12.45pm on February 9.
Anyone who visited those locations at these times must be tested and immediately isolate for 14 days.
There was also one new case in hotel quarantine, taking the state’s active cases to 21 — a revision from the initial figure of 22 provided earlier Sunday morning.
More than 21,000 tests were received in the past 24 hours.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton said Victorians should maintain faith in the state’s contact tracing system despite highly populated areas such as childcare centres and supermarkets being identified as exposure sites.
“We are testing 20,000-plus people every day,” he said. “There are rare false positives and rare false negatives.
“We will be reinterrogating those tests and exposure sites in order to be agile with the response.”
Victorian private schools will commence a full schedule of remote-learning classes from Monday, while many state school students will be given unsupervised work to do at home.
Students will miss three more days of campus-based learning on top of 14 weeks of home schooling last year.
Within hours of the announcement of schools being closed, colleges such as Camberwell Grammar, Haileybury and Trinity Grammar had informed parents of the resumption of home schooling next week.
Camberwell Grammar was closed on Thursday after a non-teaching staff member tested positive for coronavirus.
Some state high schools are undertaking remote learning according to the standard timetable, but most, such as Canterbury Girls’ School, have asked students to access material set by teachers and work independently at home.
Balwyn High will not be doing online class sessions but providing students with lesson plans and resources for three days of home learning.
A number of schools were expected to make announcements on Sunday.
The Department of Education guidelines say state schools should enable the continuation of education at home, either through remote learning or the provision of materials. Only the children of essential workers who can’t be accommodated at home or those who are vulnerable are allowed to be on campus.
Camberwell Grammar will run classes via Zoom to the normal timetable. “This is clearly not what we had hoped for at this stage of the term, but we need to follow the government’s ruling and hopefully this will help get the current outbreak under control,” principal Paul Hicks told parents.
Most state primary schools said they would send work home in the form of activity sheets in maths and spelling.
Deepdene Primary School principal Kim Shipley reflected the determination of school leaders to make the transition easy: “We have done it before and we can do it again! We will work together to make this as smooth as possible for your children.”
Racy lingerie chain Honey Birdette has found a way to keep love from being locked down in Melbourne today, by hiring Ubers to deliver “intimate” Valentine’s Day presents to customers unable to collect them from stores.
Banned from opening on its busiest day of the year because of Victoria’s snap lockdown, the store decided to send out its sexy Valentine’s Day gifts by Uber.
Honey Birdette general manager of retail operations Darrien McLeod said her team scrambled to make the arrangements on Friday, following the shock lockdown announcement.
“On Valentine’s Day, our stores are always full of men rushing in at the last minute, so we’re giving customers an option to still get their Valentine’s goodies via an Uber delivery,” she said.
Drivers were ready to deliver from Honey Birdette stores at Melbourne Central, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Westfield Fountain Gate, Westfield Doncaster and Westfield Southland, she said.
Before the snap lockdown, trade at the controversial lingerie chain’s Victorian stores had been bigger and better than previous years, Ms McLeod said.
The biggest sellers this year were a red lace collection called Madison and a pink bondage set called Kukuro.
Sex toys were also among the biggest Valentine’s Day sellers, especially in lockdown, she said.
— Additional reporting: Mandy Squires, Matt Johnston and Miles Proust
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