Fresh twist in Victoria's outbreak as cases flagged as false positives

·News Reporter
·2-min read

Two cases of what were believed to be community transmission via "fleeting contact" between Melburnians have been reclassified as false positives.

The two cases, which were originally thought to be in the state’s total, were reassessed on Thursday evening by the state's health department.

The cases were a woman who authorities believed contracted the virus at a Metricon display home and a man who visited Brighton Beach Hotel.

They are “no longer considered confirmed cases” the department said in a statement.

Health workers conduct Covid-19 testing at the Montague Street centre in South Melbourne.
People undergo coronavirus testing at the Montague Street centre in South Melbourne. Source: AAP

Both sites remain as Covid-19 exposure sites, however. The reclassification came after “analysis from an expert review panel” and the primary contacts of the two reclassified cases are now being contacted to come out of isolation unless they visited exposure sites themselves.

The state reported three new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday and the two new reclassified cases reduce Victoria’s latest outbreak to 61 cases.

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On Tuesday, Victoria’s head of testing Jeroen Weimar told reporters that authorities were concerned about transmission happening with "very fleeting" contact between individuals.

“What we’re seeing now is people brushing past each other at the shops … they don’t know each other’s name,” he said.

“We are used to with previous variants … the transmission occurring in the home, in the workplace, where people know each other already.”

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it's unusual for people to contract coronavirus in an outdoor dining area. Source: AAP

Mr Weimar attributed the trend to the more infectious Indian variant at the centre of the latest outbreak in Melbourne.

"We think it is a feature of the Indian variant which is that much more contagious. But not with every person so we are seeing examples of people who aren't transmitting at all," he said.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton cited a Brighton Beach Hotel case who caught coronavirus from a person seated outside in the dining area.

The reclassification of the case as a false positive would be welcomed by health authorities.

Professor Sutton on Wednesday told reporters "you wouldn't expect transmission to occur" in the outdoor dining area at the pub.

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