A Melbourne coronavirus cluster is worrying Victorian health authorities as the state continues its fight to bring down the number of new daily cases.
As the state recorded just 28 cases on Thursday, the lowest number since the end of June, a number of those were linked to a growing cluster in the Casey local government area in Melbourne’s southeast.
It has one of the highest numbers of active cases in Melbourne, with five of the new cases announced on Thursday linked to known outbreaks in the area.
“The cluster, obviously of concern is in Casey and we are looking at that very closely,” Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng told reporters.
“We have been working with Monash Health and the local councils and with community leaders – had a meeting last night with them, and in addition to all the clinics that are ready in that area, there are three new pop-up clinics.”
There were 78 active cases in Casey on Wednesday, 83 on Tuesday and 84 on Monday.
Professor Cheng believed a number of cases in the Casey area were linked.
“We are still looking into that, we do think that there are links and they are obviously all in that area,” he said.
“There’s a number of households – we are looking into that and trying to find out where everyone has been so we can make sure the transmission chains are controlled.”
Professor Cheng said they were working hard to identify all contacts with those confirmed cases in Casey in the past 14 days.
“All these things often can take a while and certainly I am not doing contact tracing but when I have spoken to patients it isn’t always easy to get the story out the first time, they have to go back into their phonebook and work out where they have been and who they have been talking to,” he said.
“We've obviously contacted all their close contacts to make sure that they're in quarantine and that they're being monitored, but we always just need to be careful that, you know, is there someone that has been missed?
“It’s spreading in a number of households in Casey, and we’re also obviously worried about all the people they’ve come into contact with outside their house.”
Professor Cheng again urged anybody in the area with even mild symptoms to get tested for coronavirus.
Victoria confirms eight new deaths
The state reported eight more coronavirus deaths on Thursday, taking Victoria’s death toll to 745.
There are 83 cases with an unknown source in Melbourne and one in regional areas.
Regional Victorians awoke to easier COVID-19 rules on Thursday but locked-down Melburnians will have to cope with a so-called "ring of steel" around the city.
Victoria Police have tightened traffic checkpoints on Melbourne's outskirts after rules for people living outside the city were wound back overnight.
Melbourne adults who leave the city without a lawful excuse will now get a $4957 fine.
The new offence is designed to deter Melburnians from entering regional Victoria, and transmitting coronavirus.
It will be policed by beefed-up roadblocks, creating lengthy traffic delays as vehicles pass through.
Restrictions eased in regional Victoria
The easing in regional Victoria means pubs, cafes and restaurants will be able to serve people outside with strict density quotas, while outdoor gathering limits will be upped to 10.
Regional Victorians will also be able to leave their homes without restriction and all shops can reopen.
They will still be able to travel via Melbourne to reach other parts of the state, but can only stop for three reasons including food, care and permitted work and study.
Caravan parks and camping grounds in regional areas are also able to reopen from Thursday, but with group booking restrictions.
Melbourne's new case 14-day average must stay between 30 to 50 for some of the city's restrictions to be eased as planned on September 28.
Mr Andrews noted factors behind each case had to be considered when weighing up whether to ease restrictions.
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