Melbourne Covid cluster grows to nine

·News Editor
·3-min read

Victoria has reported four new cases of coronavirus bringing the Melbourne outbreak total to nine

The state reported the new cases on Tuesday afternoon after announcing just one new infection earlier on Tuesday morning

The four new cases are all family contacts of the fifth case announced this morning.

The cases come after four locally acquired cases emerged on Monday – a man in his 30s, a woman and man in their 70s and a pre-school aged child. 

The outbreak grew to five on Tuesday morning with a man in his 60s also testing positive. 

The man developed symptoms on 17 May and presented for testing yesterday. The individual is a close contact of a positive case detected yesterday.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25: A general view of a drive through COVID-19 testing facility at the Melbourne Showgrounds on May 25, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Victorian health authorities are investigating the source of a new community coronavirus cluster in Melbourne's north after four new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Monday. The cases are all linked, being close family members across two households who are now in isolation. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
The Whittlesea Covid outbreak has grown to nine. Source: Getty

"This virus is awful in the way that it can spread," Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told ABC Radio Melbourne on Tuesday.  

"Sometimes you can be absolutely lucky with a single case who's not particularly infectious ... You can be very unlucky with rare cases that are particularly infectious that have been to lots of places and transmit it to lots of people."

He added people had to be "alive to the possibility" that the number of cases could grow. 

People are seen walking through Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne.
Melburnians are being warned the number of cases could grow. Source: Getty

Victoria’s Department of Health said in a statement genomic sequencing had confirmed the four cases detected on Monday had the same strain as a Wollert man who contracted the virus in hotel quarantine in South Australia earlier this month.

Professor Sutton said genomic sequencing had also determined they were infected with the B.1.617 mutation, also known as the Indian variant.

He told 3AW on Tuesday afternoon cases in the Whittlesea outbreak had not been linked to an exposure site blunder where the government said the Wollert case visited Epping Woolworths while infectious rather than Epping North

New warning for Highpoint Shopping Centre

CCTV footage from the Highpoint Shopping Centre has allowed the Department of Health to identify which stores one of the positive cases visited. 

People who visited the listed stores during specified times must get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton speaks to the media on May 24, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Victorian health officials are investigating the source of two positive COVID-19 cases in Melbourne. The new cases have sparked concerns there may have been undetected coronavirus transmission in Victoria, with the positive case recorded in the state several weeks ago.   (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton says the four cases confirmed on Monday have the same strain as the Wollert case earlier this month. Source: Getty

Those who visited floors two and three of the centre during specified times are also urged to get tested and isolate until they return a negative result. 

One of today's confirmed cases attended Broadmeadows Hospital on May 21.

It is not currently listed as a public exposure site as the department has access to records of everyone who attended the hospital.

Melbourne faces new Covid restrictions

Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino announced a number of new restrictions for greater Melbourne in effect from 6pm tonight.

Private gatherings in greater Melbourne will be limited to five people while public gatherings will be limited to 30.

Face masks will also need to be worn indoors unless an exemption applies.

Mr Merlino said a mask was required for everybody aged 12 and over.

Schools and workplaces remain open and Victorians who live in greater Melbourne can still travel to regional Victoria. However, they will still have to follow rules as if they were in greater Melbourne.

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