Covid Victoria: Melbourne cluster grows as infections streak ends

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

Health authorities in Victoria are urging residents in the Preston area to come forward for testing as a coronavirus cluster continues to grow.

Victoria reported seven new cases in the 24-hour period to Saturday, ending a week-long streak of daily new cases not exceeding five.

Six of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks and cases.

One is a close contact already identified as part of the Hoppers Crossing community outbreak and was already in quarantine, and another is a staff member from Estia Keilor, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Saturday.

A third case is a student from East Preston Islamic College, one is a student from Croxton Special School, also linked to East Preston Islamic College through family, and two are parents from the college.

The remaining case is a previously positive case that is currently under investigation.

Signage is seen at the East Preston Islamic College in Melbourne where the virus has been detected. Source: AAP
Signage is seen at the East Preston Islamic College in Melbourne where the virus has been detected. Source: AAP

The results have prompted health authorities to direct all staff and students from the college, and from nearby Croxton School, to get tested and self isolate, even if they aren't experiencing symptoms.

There will be a drive-through testing centre operating at the East Preston Islamic College from Saturday, while the school will remain closed for the next two weeks.

Further north, a number of secondary contacts at Sirius College in Broadmeadows and Ilim College are being tested after they were linked to separate close contacts of a confirmed case.

There were no new deaths reported for Saturday with Melbourne’s 14-day rolling average of new cases sitting at 5.0 and regional Victoria at 0.2.

The growing cluster tied to the East Preston Islamic College comes after a student tested positive earlier in the week. Already some 800 residents in Melbourne's northern suburbs have been isolating because of the school outbreak.

The school’s principal Ekrem Ozyurek told The Australian on Thursday that the child breached a 14-day isolation period after 11 days to come to school after a family member had previously tested positive.

A parent of a student at the school was also identified on Friday as having tested positive.

Asymptomatic testing is being offered to all members of the East Preston Islamic College community.

As part of a broader testing blitz by authorities, DHHS says its is working with taxi and private hire car drivers across Melbourne’s northern suburbs to ensure they are getting tested regularly.

More than 22,000 drivers have been sent text messages and emails to remind them to get tested if they have the slightest of symptoms.

About 200 to 300 protesters gathered for a rally in opposition to Covid19 restrictions on Friday. Source: AAP
About 200 to 300 protesters gathered for a rally in opposition to Covid19 restrictions on Friday. Source: AAP

Victoria recorded just one new case on Friday and five new cases on Thursday, which was the highest figure in a week.

The small surge in cases may threaten the further easing of restrictions planned for Sunday. Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday said the state was well placed to relax more rules.

"We are confident in where things are at the moment," Mr Andrews said.

"The strategy is working, the trend is with us, the numbers are falling and that is a very good thing."

Sixteen anti-lockdown protesters were arrested in Melbourne on Friday during a demonstration, with 96 fines issued.

with AAP

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