Covid Victoria: New cases as list of exposed venues nears 100

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Victoria has recorded three new locally acquired coronavirus cases for the third day in a row as the state looks to contain a growing cluster in Melbourne’s southeast.

Exposure sites linked to the outbreak continue to grow, with now close to 100 locations where the virus may have inadvertently spread within the community.

The source of the new cases announced by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has yet to be confirmed, however all previous 24 local cases identified after a two-month absence of known community transmission are linked to the Black Rock cluster centred around a Thai restaurant.

People wearing masks are seen during New Year's Eve celebrations on December 31, 2020 in Melbourne.
Victoria has again recorded three local virus cases on Tuesday. Source: Getty Images

There was also one new case detected in hotel quarantine.

Third day of over 30,000 Covid tests in Victoria

The cases come from 32,544 tests, a strong number amid concerns testing centres were underprepared due to a lack of staff.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville said on Tuesday all of the new cases were linked to the Black Rock cluster.

“That can give us confidence we're still managing the outbreaks and the contact tracing that is showing a direct link back to that particular cluster,” she said.

“Again an extraordinary effort by Victorians to now be in the third day over 30,000, which is a great effort, given where we are and where we have been to see people come out in such force.”

Ms Neville acknowledged there had been some delays, with wait times now averaging between 60 to 90 minutes.

“So people should use the information on the website to look at what is going to best suit them to get tested,” she said.

Contact tracing interviews taking up to five hours

Ms Neville also thanked the contact tracing team for their efforts during the holiday period.

“Many of these interviews that are occurring in terms of identifying primary and secondary contacts are taking anywhere from four to five hours for each of those interviews, given the complexity and the number of sites that many people have visited during this Christmas period,” she said.

DHHS testing chief Jeroen Weimar said on Monday testing would continue to be ramped up with workers recalled from annual leave to accomodate the surge of people coming forward.

Victorian health authorities are confident the Black Rock cluster is on a "very positive trajectory".

More than 1000 primary and secondary contacts have been ordered to self-isolate as authorities utilise its revamped contact tracing system following failures during the state’s devastating second wave.

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