Victoria Covid: 15,000 in isolation, long list of exposure sites

·3-min read

More than 15,000 people are now in isolation after being deemed close contacts of one of the 30 local Covid infections in Victoria.

The number of primary and secondary contacts increased from 10,000 on Thursday to 15,000 on Friday as it was announced the state had recorded four more local cases on its first day of lockdown.

The seven-day, statewide shutdown was enacted overnight in an effort to contain the outbreak of the Indian variant of Covid.

The 30 people infected are largely concentrated to Whittlesea and Port of Melbourne.

Of the group of 15,000 now self-isolating, 1452 are primary close contacts, leading to more than 150 exposure sites across Melbourne and regional Victoria.

People walk along Sydney Road in Coburg, Melbourne.
The number of close contacts increased on Friday as it was announced Victoria had recorded four more local cases. Source: AAP

“We now have 15,000 primary and secondary close contacts who we have asked to isolate and again my thanks to them,” Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Jeroen Weimar said during a press conference on Friday.

“It is a significant ask on behalf of all Victorians to ask the 15,000 people to do the right thing, to isolate, to stay isolated in most cases for 14 days, to ensure that if any emergence of the virus is captured and does not go any further at all.”

Mr Weimar said the health department was making “really good progress” on getting people tested and had received “hundreds of negative test results”.

He added they were focused on about 700 primary close contacts.

Signage for a Covid19 testing facility is seen in Albert Park, Melbourne, on Thursday.
The cluster is largely concentrated to Whittlesea and Port of Melbourne. Source: AAP

Covid exposure in Victoria grows 

The Department of Health currently has listed 121 virus exposure sites, including a Bunnings and Hungry Jack's, on its website, however Acting Premier James Merlino warned on Thursday locations had reached 150.

New additions to the list include RMIT University buildings, Coburg's Pentridge Cinema and various sites within Southern Cross Station.

On Friday, Mr Weimar said authorities were was particularly concerned about five sites – the Sporting Globe in Mordialloc, Three Monkeys and Somewhere Bar in Prahran, Palace Hotel in South Melbourne and The Local in Port Melbourne.

"They are... places where we expect to see significant numbers of people in close proximity, dancing, singing, doing what they do," he said.

An Australian Defence Force member conducts a COVID-19 test on a member of the public at a facility in Hoppers Crossing, Melbourne.
On Friday, Mr Weimar said authorities were was particularly concerned about five exposure sites. Source: AAP

It comes as Victoria's mass vaccination centres will begin administering Pfizer shots for anyone aged 40 to 49 on Friday.

The state's coronavirus hotline was inundated with calls immediately after it was announced vaccination eligibility would be broadened, with some people on hold for hours trying to secure an appointment.

The health department said it was flooded with more than 77,000 calls in a 15-minute window before "technical issues" were resolved.

But there are reports the phone line was again down on Friday morning.

The latest outbreak, seeded in South Australian hotel quarantine, has again raised questions about the capability of Victoria's contact tracing system, which was partially blamed for the state's second 112-day lockdown.

With AAP

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