Vic schools deemed safe despite closures

Ulises Izquierdo and Marnie Banger
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School virus

The risk of community transmission of the virus at schools isn't a concern to Victorian authorities

Victorian authorities say the state's schools are safe despite three closing in two days, after students tested positive for the coronavirus.

One of the nine new cases recorded in Victoria on Tuesday, a student at Strathmore Primary School, prompted the school's closure for cleaning and contact tracing.

Pakenham Springs Primary School and St Dominic's Primary School in Broadmeadows were closed on Monday after two students at each school tested positive.

But the risk of community transmission at schools isn't a concern to health authorities, Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen said.

"We knew there'd still be cases as the community opened up, we knew that would occur," she told reporters.

"All of the cases have been students that acquired the illness generally within family situations."

The four students who tested positive on Monday are part of an extended family cluster that increased by one case on Tuesday.

That cluster has grown to 12 cases after the family held gatherings across homes in Coburg, Broadmeadows and Pakenham.

"It doesn't take long for a respiratory illness to spread and that's why we need to remain vigilant about hand hygiene, about staying away from people," Dr van Diemen said.

Victoria's nine new cases brought the state's infection tally to 1741, with around 50 active cases.

Of these, two were linked to a known outbreak at Monash Health.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the Monash Health outbreak had increased to six cases after a patient and health care worker recently tested positive.

The latest increase in cases in Victoria comes less than a week before further restrictions are set to ease.

From Monday, pubs and clubs will be able to serve drinks for up to 50 people seated without a meal but social distancing must be adhered to and contact information provided.

However, one pub owner has started a campaign claiming some venues will ignore the measures.

"The situation is terminal and getting worse. As an industry, we will have no choice but to ignore the current rules," Botanical Hotel South Yarra owner Rabhi Yannie said.

"We don't want to break the law or risk fines, however, the precedent has been set by this government when people break the law as a collective."

Melbourne's nightclub Love Machine at Prahran was fined $9913 on Saturday evening for breaching restrictions.

Dr van Diemen said everybody who has rebelled against the guidelines should continue abiding by them.

She also argued it wasn't beyond possibility there would be further cases appearing in people who attended the Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne.

"We would be very happy if there are no more cases related to that protest. It doesn't change our advice not to go. It doesn't change the fact that it was a risk."