Coronavirus Victoria: Family celebration 'sparks cluster' as military is brought in

More than 1000 troops are coming to Victoria to help the state fight a growing coronavirus problem as it is reported what led to one of the state’s largest clusters.

An outbreak in Coburg, in Melbourne’s north, which has been linked to 14 of the state’s cases across a number of households, was triggered by a celebration among family members for Eid, The Australian reported.

Eid is an annual Muslim celebration for the end of Ramadan after a month of fasting.

At the time of the get-together on the weekend of May 23 and 24, there was an imposed limit of five people per indoor gathering, according to the publication.

Medical staff test people for COVID-19 at Keilor Community Hub in Melbourne. Source: Getty Images

Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services wouldn’t confirm the report to Yahoo News but a spokesperson said part of its tracing the virus includes identifying all close contacts and telling them they need testing and to self-isolate.

“As part of our contact tracing, any public exposure sites are contacted and provided with advice about the transmission risks and any cleaning that may be required,” the spokesperson said.

Defence force and other states helping Victoria

The request for Australian Defence Force personnel came from Victoria overnight. The state will also get assistance from NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland to process tests for the virus.

A handful of ADF staff have been helping in Victoria for several months, but the contingent will now drastically ramp up.

"Defence has been providing support to Victoria since April and I'm pleased we're able to rapidly increase our assistance to help Victoria respond to its current COVID-19 circumstances," Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement.

Up to 850 ADF members will provide support to hotel quarantine monitoring and about 200 personnel will provide logistical and medical support for coronavirus testing.

The agreement will be in place until the end of July.

On Wednesday, the death of a Victorian man, aged in his 80s, brought the national tally to 103.

Victoria also recorded another 20 new cases, bringing the number of community transmissions to 241 and more than doubling its active cases in the past week to 141.

Australian Defence Force (ADF) at Sydney International Airport in Sydney wait for returning travellers in March. Source: AAP

Aussies told not to travel to Melbourne

Leaders from other states have warned people not to visit Melbourne because of the increase in infections.

NSW has gone so far as to roll out a social media advertising campaign telling its residents to think twice about travel.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said Victoria is able to test 20,000 people a day for the virus as officials move to crack down on several clusters, and trace and quarantine contacts of infected people.

Health officials have begun door knocking six hotspots across Melbourne to ensure residents are sticking to government guidelines.

Information in languages other than English will also be provided for multicultural communities in the heavily affected areas.

Advocacy groups have called for a beefed-up campaign to make sure migrant communities understood the danger coronavirus posed.

The state's hotels were under fire for failing to effectively quarantine people with coronavirus after several security guards became infected, leading to some of the clusters among extended family members.

The issue will be raised at a national cabinet meeting on Friday.

with AAP

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