Melbourne Covid cases grow amid scramble to contain cluster

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Victoria has recorded three new locally acquired coronavirus cases on Monday as health authorities scramble to contain a growing cluster in southeast Melbourne.

Acting Premier Jacinta Allan has confirmed the new infections were linked to an existing cluster.

A fourth case was a person in hotel quarantine.

“A total of 3,962,283 tests have been received to date. That is an increase of 32,468 since yesterday and, again, we really want to thank everyone for getting tested yesterday,” Ms Allan said on Monday.

Cars line up at a coronavirus testing clinic in Melbourne.
Melburnians have responded to a call for testing following the emergence of the cluster last week. Source: AAP

“That figure of 32,400 is a very, very strong figure for any day let alone it being on a Sunday over a holiday period.”

Ms Allan said there was “reason to be optimistic, but we do have to be cautious in our optimism”.

“The numbers the last couple of days have been strong for Victoria in that they also come off the back of very high testing numbers,” she said.

“So high testing numbers, low case numbers, is providing us with this situation that we can be optimistic but as we have learned from the past, this is a dangerous and difficult virus.

“It can move very, very quickly around our community.”

Melbourne’s Black Rock cluster grows

Monday’s new cases confirmed earlier in the day by the Department of Health and Human Services takes the state’s local cases to 24.

While the source of the cluster is not yet known, genomic testing has revealed the virus circulating in the community originated from Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster.

Thirteen of the 21 local cases prior to Monday’s figures dined at a Black Rock restaurant, where the cluster is centred around.

The cluster’s first known infections came last Wednesday, however health authorities believe the virus may have been present in the community from at least December 20.

There were 32,468 tests processed in the previous 24 hours despite reports of lengthy queues and some people being turned away at testing centres due to the large volume of people seeking testing.

The total number of active cases in the state is 36.

Victoria to ramp up testing

The emergence of local cases after two months without them prompted a swift crackdown by the Victorian government on border rules last week.

More than 60,000 Victorians rushed back from NSW as a hard border between the two states came into effect on Friday night. All were required to be tested on their return.

That's put facilities under strain, forcing some sites to extend testing hours and staff to be recalled from holidays to meet the extra demand.

Testing capacity was boosted by almost half, taking total sites on Sunday to 190.

It is expected to increase further on Monday, although DHHS listed wait times of two or more hours for Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Darebin Arts Centre and Chadstone - Golfers Drive.

With AAP

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