The state’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters an upsurge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks had her anxious and after seeking explanations as to why there’s an uptick in cases, she discovered one person could be linked to them.
“I was very anxious back in March and April when we had a significant spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria and I looked to the international experience and I was absolutely riddled with anxiety about what would happen in our state,” she said.
“And I am very grateful for the fact that overwhelmingly Victorians steadily did the right thing.
“We drove case numbers down and I believe that with the legal restrictions that have been put in place this week, we will do that again.”
However, she said as the case numbers began to rise over the past two weeks and 10 postcodes went into lockdown a second time, she sought answers as to what went wrong.
“On Tuesday, I received a briefing of a genomic sequencing report that seemed to suggest that there seems to be a single source of infection for many of the cases that have gone across the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne,” she revealed.
“It appears to be even potentially a super spreader that has caused this upsurge in cases. We don't have the full picture yet ... not all of these cases have yet been subject to genomic sequencing.
“But I was concerned about this and I know the premier was concerned and it takes a great deal of clinical courage to admit that there are problems, that there have been mistakes made and to actually call for a judicial inquiry.
“No other state, as I understand it, has been doing genomic sequencing of its cases.”
Inquiry into coronavirus quarantine
Victoria has now experienced 17 days of double-digit coronavirus cases, and on Thursday the government called for an inquiry into the coronavirus quarantine arrangements for returning travellers.
“No other state has subjected itself to the level of scrutiny that Victoria has,” Ms Mikakos told reporters.
“So this genomic sequencing tells us part of a story but it is important that the judicial inquiry be enabled to thoroughly examine what went wrong here.
“I have to say I am deeply, deeply frustrated by what has happened here. Deeply frustrated because we were doing extremely well and only two – three weeks ago – we had some days of zero cases.
“To see an upsurge of cases in two weeks is deeply frustrating to me and I know it is deeply frustrating to Victorians as well.”
10,000 people refuse coronavirus tests
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was grateful to residents who had been tested and again pleaded with Victorians to come forward and get tested to help the state get on top of the virus.
“Coming forward and getting tested if you are unwell, coming forward and getting tested even if you have got the mildest of symptoms, and of course answering yes if somebody comes to your door and offers you a test,” he said.
Ms Mikakos said more than 10,000 people had “disappointingly” refused testing in the state.
“That might be for a range of reasons, including that they may have already been tested in a different location – we are analysing that data to see exactly why people are refusing – but it is concerning that some people believe that coronavirus is a conspiracy or that it won't impact on them,” she said.
“So what I want to stress here is that coronavirus is a very contagious virus.
“It can go through your family very quickly, it can affect your neighbours, your loved ones, and your entire community.
“So for those individuals in those communities who have not yet been tested, we are urging them to get tested as quickly as possible.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.