Coles coronavirus outbreak grows as Victoria records almost 50 new cases

Four cases of coronavirus have now been linked to an outbreak at a Coles distribution centre in Melbourne’s southwest after another staff member was confirmed to have tested positive to COVID-19.

Victoria recorded 49 new cases on Sunday, including just four linked to known outbreaks and the others detected through routine testing or still under investigation.

One of the four cases linked to an outbreak was a worker from a Coles distribution centre in Laverton, Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton told reporters.

“There's an additional staff member now bringing the Coles portion of that outbreak to four,” Prof Sutton said.

A stock image of a Coles supermarket. Another staff member has tested positive to coronavirus.
Another Coles staff member has tested positive, taking the total linked cases to the outbreak to four. Source: AAP

“We'll need to review that in detail today. It's a big facility. It has a lot of staff. Hundreds of those have been tested.

“But we need to do a risk review just to make sure that we're crossing off all of the required actions to make sure that there aren't additional cases coming out of that outbreak.”

Other new cases were linked to the North Melbourne family outbreak, where there is now a total of 21.

An additional case was detected in the Stamford Plaza outbreak and a new case linked to the Brimbank family outbreak – a close contact of a known case.

Ten suburbs of biggest concern were revealed by Premier Daniel Andrews this week, including Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Reservoir, Pakenham and Fawkner.

Changes to hotel quarantine rules

Victorians who refuse coronavirus tests while in hotel quarantine will now face an additional 10 days in mandatory isolation and potentially face being hit with a fine.

The change was announced on Sunday by Mr Andrews after it was revealed up to 30 per cent of returning travellers were refusing to be tested while in hotel quarantine.

Victoria followed the lead of NSW, which also introduced an additional 10 days of quarantine for testing refusal this week.

Parents of small children were predominantly the source of that figure, Mr Andrews told reporters, saying there was actually up to 85 per cent of people agreeing to be tested.

An Australian Defence Force member and two other healthcare workers in PPE at a Melbourne coronavirus test station.
An Australian Defence Force member at a COVID-19 test station in Melbourne on Friday. Source: AFP via Getty Images

He said saliva testing set to be rolled out on Sunday would likely remove that reluctance, given the procedure was less uncomfortable than the typical test.

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen confirmed on Saturday legal advice was being sought on whether it could make returned travellers in hotel quarantine get tested.

She also announced emergency alerts are being sent to residents in coronavirus hotspots in Victoria due to a concerning ongoing trend of community transmission.

The last time Victoria recorded a daily increase of 49 new cases was on April 3.

Cigarette lighter potentially source of spread

Mr Andrews said transmission of the virus had previously occurred as a suspected result of people sharing the same cigarette lighter.

To the best of our knowledge, we believe that some of those cases may well have come from people sharing a cigarette lighter,” he said.

“Keeping their distance, but ultimately, sharing a lighter. One between the other.”

Mr Andrews said while the act was not a “wilful breach” it was a clear example of the “wildly infectious” nature of COVID-19.

The premier added there was a likelihood carpooling between staff may have also contributed to the spread of the virus.

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