Victoria's Covid-free streak ENDS as new cases detected

Australian Associated Press
·4-min read

Victoria's run of more than 60 days without a locally-acquired coronavirus case has reportedly come to an end.

Three people in Melbourne were diagnosed with Covid-19 on Wednesday, The Age reports.

It is believed they had not recently travelled to NSW, where 18 new cases of community transmission were recorded on Wednesday.

The Department of Health and Human Services has been contacted for confirmation.

Earlier on Wednesday the Victorian government said it remained a "long way" from opening its border with NSW.

Melbourne's two-month Covid-free streak has come to an abrupt end. Source: Getty
Melbourne's two-month Covid-free streak has come to an abrupt end. Source: Getty

Half of the new cases belong to the Sydney northern beaches cluster, while a second cluster has emerged in the city's west, along with cases in Wollongong, south of Sydney.

Victoria's Police Minister Lisa Neville said decisions about the border were being made on a daily basis but based on health advice no one was ready to contemplate changes.

"We're still a long way from that border being open," she said.

Ms Neville wouldn't rule out extending the red zone, with concern for cases outside the northern beaches.

"I know we were concerned about the Wollongong spread and the case there, and that occurred I think through churches, so we'll continue to monitor this and if we need we'll extend that red zone," she said.

Long streak of no cases in Victoria broken

Victoria on Wednesday morning marked 61 days without a local transmission of coronavirus and just one case of a returned traveller in her 20s in hotel quarantine.

There were only eight active cases, all in hotel quarantine or self-isolation, including seven international travellers and a teenager girl at home after contracting the virus in NSW.

Ms Neville acknowledged the effect the border restrictions had on local communities, but said people were largely supportive.

"We all do want to say goodbye to this year, we all do hope that 2021 is a better year that we've got ahead but we don't have a vaccine," she said.

"It has been a very hard year and we have done an incredible thing as Victorians - let鈥檚 not risk it as we celebrate the end of 2020."

Despite Victoria's two-month stretch without local transmission, and an overwhelming desire to see the back of 2020, celebrations for the new year will be muted on Thursday night.

Melbourne cancels New Year鈥檚 Eve fireworks display

Melbourne fireworks that would draw nearly half a million revellers any other year have been canned in favour of lower-key celebrations than the occasion deserves.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said it was natural people would want to celebrate at the end of a difficult year.

But cancelling the fireworks meant a celebration of the city's hospitality industry, inspired by European piazzas and squares, could go ahead instead.

Nearly a dozen outdoor dining precincts have been set up across the city, including Hardware Lane, Chinatown, Spring Street and Little Bourke Street.

People line up to enter stores during the Boxing Day sales in Melbourne. Source: Getty
People line up to enter stores during the Boxing Day sales in Melbourne. Source: Getty

"We decided to keep our city open, to keep supporting those businesses that really add so much to Melbourne's character and personality, recognising that for all those business owners and their teams one of the best things we can do to bring in the new year is to show our support for them," she said.

One thing will remain normal - additional police will be on patrol in uniform and plain clothes, with dogs and horses and on the water.

Victoria had 8731 test results received in the previous 24 hours, nearly 2000 more than Tuesday.

Victoria鈥檚 New Year鈥檚 Eve rules

  • Up to 30 visitors to your home per day with no limit on the number of households they're from.

  • Up to 200 people meeting outdoors in public.

  • Practice physical distancing, and wear a mask if you can't maintain 1.5 metres from people you don't live with.

  • Masks are mandatory on public transport and ride share services.

Only share happy new year hugs and kisses with immediate family and those you live with.

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