A celebratory party was held for hotel quarantine workers involved in the Australian Open program days before one of the employees involved in isolating players and teams tested positive for coronavirus.
On Sunday, Covid Quarantine Victoria marked the end of the quarantine period for those arriving for the tennis grand slam with an event for 60 staff at the View Hotel, one of the hotels used for quarantine, the newly established agency confirmed.
Seventy-two hours later, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed a 26-year-old residential support officer involved in the program had contracted the virus, believed to have been from the hotel in which he worked.
While the worker did not attend the outdoor party, Deakin University Chair of Epidemiology Professor Catherine Bennett told the Herald Sun it was not a good look.
“If you all just throw yourselves together in a social gathering it undermines that. So I do think that’s something that needs to be discussed,” she said.
“Particularly across facilities where you’re bringing together a community of people who are just at that higher risk. There are other ways to say thank you.”
The infected male worked with several of the party’s attendees who have all now been required to get tested and isolate.
His case has forced more than a thousand people into self-isolation, including a number of tennis stars just days out from the grand slam.
Worker has highly-infectious UK strain
On Friday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton confirmed the man had contracted the more-virulent international variant of the virus following genomic testing.
Professor Sutton said it was still unclear how transmission had occurred, with investigations ongoing.
Late on Thursday, the health department confirmed it had identified 17 of the quarantine worker's close social and household contacts.
Sixteen of those have tested negative so far, including two of his household contacts.
The final two results among the close-contact cohort are expected to be announced on Friday.
A further 600 casual contacts have also been told to isolate and get tested, as have 520 tennis players, officials and support staff. All but 12 have so far tested negative, Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley told 3AW.
On Friday morning, the Department of Health announced zero local cases in the previous 24 hours while there were 14,612 tests.
Melbourne Park matches were suspended on Thursday but will resume on Friday.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said the Australian Open would go ahead as planned from next Monday.
Premier Daniel Andrews said a review of security footage at the Grand Hyatt showed the man was a "model employee" who correctly followed all safety procedures.
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