Disturbing details emerge on Victoria's virus outbreak as another man dies

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

Victoria has recorded a further 20 coronavirus cases as its spike in community transmission continues, while a 20th person in the state has died from COVID-19.

The death of a man in his 80s is the first coronavius-related death in Australia since May 23. The last death, a man in his 60s, also occurred in Victoria.

Nineteen of the cases are locally-acquired, with seven cases linked to previous outbreaks. Nine were detected through routine testing and three other cases are under investigation.

There has now been 97 cases in Victoria across the past five days, with 11 of those detected in hotel quarantine.

There are now 141 active cases in the state.

Professor Brett Sutton addressed the media on Wednesday morning. Source: ABC

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton also told reporters on Wednesday a recent family cluster of cases in Hallam was likely triggered by a contractor working in the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Melbourne’s CBD, a hotel being used for quarantine.

Professor Sutton said more than 30 cases in the last 10 days were linked to hotel quarantine staff members.

He said there was “some concern” over the social distancing of staff after coming into either direct or indirect contact with returning travellers.

“Obviously it's been re-enforced that distancing needs to be maintained at all times for everyone,” he said.

Prof Sutton said there was no shortage of personal protective equipment for staff at hotels, which is provided free of charge by the state.

Of the new cases, three people have been linked to a Keilor Downs family cluster, three are staff members at Hampstead Dental in Maidstone, and another case has been linked to St Monica's college at Epping.

One case has been linked to Northland H&M, bringing the total number of cases in that cluster to five.

Surge in testing as new sites confirmed

Prof Sutton said it was now vital Victorians come forward and get tested as part of the state’s test and trace mechanism.

“Really broadening the testing availability and the messaging to reach everyone about the need to test if they're symptomatic is our key driver to get numbers down,” he said.

Prof Sutton said Victoria can test over 20,000 people per day.

The steady increase in new cases prompted the state government to pause easing of restrictions and to name six local government areas as coronavirus hotspots: Brimbank, Casey, Cardinia, Darebin, Hume and Moreland. 

A testing site at Melbourne Showgrounds will open at 1pm on Wednesday for Keilor Downs Secondary College students, teachers and parents before opening to the general public on Thursday. 

Victoria has seen a surge in testing amid the outbreak. Source: AAP

Two sites have also opened at Footscray Bunnings and Cragieburn Central. 

The health department has warned testing may be temporarily suspended at drive-throughs if there is "unprecedented demand", due to safety and traffic management reasons.

It comes after Victoria Police were called in to manage the traffic at the Chadstone Shopping Centre site, just 20 minutes after it opened on Wednesday. 

"We do apologise and we ask for people to be patient," Prof Sutton said, urging people to go to their GPs instead. 

He said the health department was working to get COVID-19 information to multicultural communities but admits it has been a "complex process". 

"It is not a simple case of pamphlets and campaign materials," Prof Sutton said.

"You do need that community leadership, community champions and all of the modes and methods available to you to try and get messages out."

The national death toll from coronavirus now stands at 103.

On Wednesday, NSW announced a further 10 cases, all of which are in hotel quarantine.

with AAP

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