Victoria has recorded just three new locally acquired cases of coronavirus – a number that will relieve health authorities for the moment.
As residents scrambled back to the state ahead of the weekend, some testing sites were close to being overwhelmed.
In the past 24 hours to midnight, the state processed 22,477 tests to produce just three positive results.
All three new cases are linked to the Black Rock cluster, which now has 21 cases associated with the cluster linked to a Thai restaurant in the suburb. Only 13 attended the restaurant while others were close contacts over the Christmas period.
“This is a great result in itself. That’s 22k people doing their important part to support the efforts of lastline workers, tracers and families everywhere across our state. Well done,” Dr Sandro Demaio, the CEO of VicHealth remarked on social media.
While just three new cases is welcome news, the number of potential exposure sites has swelled to 51.
“That is a significant number of exposure sites and it highlights the 21 cases in this cluster at the moment that people do rightly travel around quite extensively at this time of year,” the state’s testing chief Jeroen Weimar told reporters Sunday.
“Please take note on our website that there are different directions depending on the extent of exposure at each site.”
Victorians are urged to stay up to date with exposure sites. A full list can be seen here.
The latest case figures takes the known total of active cases in Victoria to 32 and comes after 10 cases of community transmission were reported on Saturday, prompting concern of growing spread after the virus spilled over from NSW.
On Saturday, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said genomic testing showed the cluster in the Melbourne suburb of Black Rock had come from the recent Sydney outbreak.
“We have established the link between New South Wales' cluster and the outbreak in Victoria. We are determined to get on top of it and I know that requires what appears to some people to be tough measures but the virus does not respect state borders,” he said.
More cases expected to come from people isolating
Professor Allen Cheng thanked people for coming forward for testing and praised the work of contact tracers giving one example of the laborious process undertaken when someone tests positive.
“I am told one interview took five hours to complete. With more than, I think, about 220 close contacts who are in quarantine at the moment, and about 359 secondary contacts,” he told reporters Sunday.
“With this number of close contacts, we are expecting at least some of them may become cases over the next week or so, but what is important is that they are in quarantine when they are diagnosed so that the risk of onward transmission is reduced.”
Lengthy queues were expected Sunday at testing sites across the state.
“We are going to have to unfortunately asked people to be patient and work with us on this one. We are working on the ground as rapidly as we can,” Mr Weimar said.
“I would love to be in a position where we have shorter waiting times but we are seeing a very strong and intense response both from people returning from New South Wales as well as people who are responding to the calls around exposure sites and the concerns that we've got, so again I'll apologise for the frustration people feel, I apologise for the length of waiting times.”
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