'Pure evil': Covid cluster grows as premier slams anti-Semitic attacks

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There are now seven Covid cases linked to an illegal engagement party which took place last week during Melbourne's lockdown.

On Tuesday, Victoria Department of Health deputy secretary Kate Matson confirmed four more people linked to the party have tested positive.

Three of the four new cases attended the party at Caulfield North last week and the fourth is a work-related contact, taking the number associated with the cluster to seven.

There now six cases linked to the engagement party in Melbourne. Source: Twitter
There now six cases linked to the engagement party in Melbourne. Source: Twitter

The three previously announced cases linked to the event include a mother and son in St Kilda East.

There were 69 people who attended the party and they are now self-isolating, with two people awaiting their test results.

Victoria Police are expected to hand out fines of $5,452 to every adult who attended the party which was held in breach of the chief health officer's directions.

The total of the fines could be more than $350,000, Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said on Monday, saying it would end up being a "very expensive engagement party".

Police became aware of the party after footage of the affair was shared to social media.

In the video, dozens of people are seen not wearing masks, watching a speech at the party attended by members of the Jewish community at the private residence in Caulfield North.

Following complaints medical professionals were among those at the party, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is now investigating.

An illegal engagement party in Melbourne has sparked fears of a super-spreader event. Source: ABC
An illegal engagement party in Melbourne has sparked fears of a super-spreader event. Source: ABC

Hospital staff member sacked after anti-Semitic comments

At the press conference on Tuesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews condemned anti-Semitic commentary surrounding the engagement party.

He said the party in question was not a reflection of the Jewish community.

"The event that we spoke about at some length yesterday, was not a function of being Jewish. It was a stupid function, it was an illegal function. Those people are being dealt with.

"Them breaking the rules was not a reflection of the Jewish community more broadly.

“There's no sense that anyone needs to be harassing anybody and there is never, ever, a place in Victoria for anti-Semitic behaviour or language, it's simply evil,” he said.

"Let's all of us acknowledge and be really clear about the fact that anti-Semitism is just pure evil and we're not having that here," the premier went on to say. 

"We're just not, if you want to trade in that sort of stuff, then there'll be consequences for you, too, because that's just not on."

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said hate directed at a community is "disruptive" to the public health response.

Following the video being circulated widely on social media, there have been reports the family at the centre of the party has been bombarded with threats and racial abuse.

The condemnation from the premier, then the Chief Health Officer and Comm Patton comes after Royal Melbourne Hospital fired a worker who made anti-semitic comments about it on social media.

"We are aware of a hospital support staff member who made an abhorrent and disgraceful anti-semitic comment on Facebook," the hospital said in a statement on Twitter.

"The comment does not reflect @TheRMH and our values. We do not tolerate racial or religious hatred, contempt or ridicule.

"The staff member is no longer an employee of the hospital and we apologise for the hurt and anger this has caused. We stand with and support our Jewish staff members, patients and community."

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Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton said the issue of the engagement party should be left up to the police.

He said those from the party are being cooperative with police.

Victoria recorded 24 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, after the state government tightened lockdown restrictions in Melbourne.

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