Victorian lockdown to end as planned

VICTORIAN Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed the snap five-day lockdown will come to an end at midnight on Wednesday as planned.

“Restrictions will come off, almost all of them, at midnight tonight,” Mr Andrews confirmed on Wednesday.

“That is exactly what we said we needed and exactly what we said would work.”

There were no new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Victoria in the last 24 hours, both locally and in hotel quarantine, despite close to 40,000 tests.

There are still 25 active cases across the state.

Premier Andrews said, despite the lockdown coming to an end, there will still be some restrictions in place for the next nine days.

“This is not over, there are still nine days to go for the 14 day incubation period of the last of the positive case,” he said.

The incubation period for those cases finishes next Friday, February 26.

From 11.59pm tonight, masks will be required indoors and outdoors where you cannot socially distance 1.5 metres.

Victorians will be allowed just five visitors at home and 20 people are able to gather in public settings.

Workplaces, both in the private and public sectors, will be able to hold 50 per cent capacity.

“We will get to that 75 per cent when it is safe to do so,” Premier Andrews said.

Retail and hospitality businesses will be able to reopen with the same density limits that were in place last week.

Sporting events, including the Australian Open, can welcome crowds back once again. Exactly how many people will be allowed to attend the tennis is expected to be confirmed by tennis and government officials later today.

Victoria to decide on restrictions on fifth day of lockdown

UPDATE @ 7.30 AM | Victoria has recorded no new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, either locally acquired or in hotel quarantine.

It comes as ministers meet this morning to decide whether or not the five-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown will end at midnight tonight as planned.

It now seems certain that the measures will lift on schedule, though there may still be some lingering restrictions in place as the state reopens.

A whopping 39,000 people came forward for testing over the last 24 hours.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to provide further information later this morning.

EARLIER @ 6.00 AM | All eyes will be on Victoria this morning, with the state hopeful of coming out of lockdown.

The snap five-day measures were announced late last week and were only expected to last until midnight tonight.

The Victorian Premier has been unable to confirm whether or not the lockdown will lift as plan, with a decision now due after today’s coronavirus numbers are revealed.

As of yesterday, there were 19 cases linked to the Holiday Inn outbreak, but it’s understood that all cases are close contacts of previous cases and therefore not considered ‘mystery’ infections.

There are reports that Premier Dan Andrews and ministers will meet this morning to approve plans to lift the lockdown, but there may be some lesser restrictions going forward.

It could mean that some crowds are allowed back at the Australian Open in time for the semi-finals tomorrow.

An update from Victorian authorities is expected later this morning.

Two new local cases, second quarantine hotel evacuated in Melbourne

Melbourne’s coronavirus cluster has grown again this morning, with another two local cases diagnosed overnight.

Both cases are understood to be household contacts of previous cases, which is a slight relief as the state enters its fourth day of a five-day lockdown.

The cluster linked to the Holiday Inn has now reached 19 infections.

It comes as Melbourne’s ‘hot hotel’ where COVID-19 infections are housed prepares to get evacuated this morning after a sprinkler system caused water damage to a number of floors.

31 people will be moved from the facility on Flinders Street to the Pullman Albert Park Hotel, which was used to quarantine Australian Open players recently.

Victorian officials are expected to provide more details later this morning.

Meantime, the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been nominated for a prestigious political award over his handling of the coronavirus in Melbourne.

He’s up for The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership, which recognises politicians who ‘successfully tackled vital issues of public policy, overcame adversity and achieved real change for the public good’.

That’s despite the Premier overseeing the state’s hotel quarantine bungle and the deadly second wave.

Andrews tight-lipped on lockdown extension

Authorities are yet to rule out an extension to Victoria’s five-day “circuit breaker” lockdown, as the state recorded one new locally acquired case of COVID-19.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday confirmed the case is a woman who attended a function with an infectious hotel quarantine worker on February 6.

The woman is asymptomatic and was tested four times at the weekend, returning both negative and “weak positive” results.

Her three-year-old child tested positive on Sunday.

“Given her exposure and the variability of those results, the public health team have taken the most conservative approach and have deemed her a positive case,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

A psychiatric unit at The Alfred hospital and psychiatric wards at Broadmeadows Hospital and the Northern Hospital in Epping, where the woman worked, have been locked down.

About 150 of the woman’s close contacts across the three hospitals, including a “small number” of patients, have been tested and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

“This has been a very rapid response and one that is filled with an abundance of caution, but that is exactly the approach that we ought to take,” Mr Andrews said.

Victoria’s COVID-19 Testing Commander Jeroen Weimar said the woman’s child attended Glenroy Central Kinder and Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Glenroy for three days last week.

More than 100 close contacts have been identified and a dedicated testing site has been set up at the larger of the two facilities.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton stressed the risk of transmission among children is low.

“Everyone who’s been in the early learning or childcare settings or had children with this three-year-old should be reassured by that (and) also by the fact that young children have a very low risk of significant illness,” he said.

The mother and child, as well as a woman aged in her 50s, contracted the virus after attending a family function on Sydney Road in Coburg on February 6.

The function was attended by 38 people including a worker from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport, who had returned a negative test result on February 7.

The venue was not listed as an exposure site until February 12, two days after the hotel quarantine worker eventually tested positive.

A review of the worker’s earlier test result found it was a “false negative”.

A total of 17 people linked to the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Mr Andrews said some of the cases were not in the original “net” cast by authorities.

“This just confirms the advice from the CHO to me and cabinet, to have this circuit-breaker, was the right call and remains the right call,” he said.

The premier said he was not in a position to confirm the lockdown would end as planned on Wednesday.

“I think we are well placed. However, I’ve never been one to try and make bold predictions. We just have to take this one hour at a time, one day at a time,” Mr Andrews said.

“This is a promising start, these last three days, and I am proud of all Victorians for the hard work that they’ve put in.”

Both Mr Andrews and Prof Sutton indicated they wanted to see more data before making a decision on ending the lockdown.

“Every single case has been linked. Those immediate social and household close contact testing negative, that’s all terrific news,” Prof Sutton said.

“I am always aware that we can have a day when something comes completely out of left-field so I hope that doesn’t happen.”

A returned traveller in hotel quarantine also tested positive to COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 21.

More than 25,000 Victorians were tested for the virus on Sunday, the highest single-day total for more than a month.

© AAP 2021

Virus Testing

New local Vic case worked at two hospitals

Psychiatric wards at two Melbourne hospitals have been locked down and contact tracing is underway after a worker tested positive to COVID-19.

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed Victoria’s new locally acquired case on Monday is a woman who attended a family function with a COVID-infected hotel quarantine worker on February 6.

The woman is asymptomatic and was tested four times at the weekend, returning both negative and “weak positive” results.

“Given her exposure and the variability of those results, the public health team have taken the most conservative approach and have deemed her a positive case,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

The premier said the woman worked in a psychiatric unit at the Alfred Hospital and on psychiatric wards at the Northern Hospital in Broadmeadows, which is run by Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“Those services have had those wards locked down. Staff, all those that she may have come in contact with, they are all isolating and have been tested,” Mr Andrews said.

“This has been a very rapid response and one that is filled with an abundance of caution but that is exactly the approach that we ought to take.”

Victoria’s COVID-19 Testing Commander Jereon Weimar said 150 primary close contacts across the two hospitals have been identified.

“The majority are staff at those facilities, a very small number of patients,” he said.

The woman is the mother of a three-year-old who tested positive to the virus on Sunday.

Mr Weirmar said the child attended Glenroy Central Kinder and Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Glenroy over three days last week. About 101 primary close contacts have been identified.

The woman and child, as well as another woman aged in her 50s, contracted the virus after attending a family function on Sydney Road in Coburg on February 6.

The function was attended by 38 people including a worker from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport, who had returned a negative test result on February 7.

The venue was not listed as an exposure site until February 12, two days after the hotel quarantine worker eventually tested positive.

A review of the worker’s February 7 test result found it was a “false negative”.

Some 17 people linked to the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn have tested positive for COVID-19.

Burnet Institute epidemiologist Michael Toole said the Coburg function does not appear to be a super-spreading event.

“Those two people at the Coburg site were infected about a week ago or were exposed a week ago. We haven’t had any other cases outside of close contacts, so that’s looking good,” he told 3AW radio.

Professor Toole said he supported the five-day precautionary lockdown.

“It was shown in Brisbane and Perth that this approach does work,” he said.

“It looks like there hasn’t been extensive spread here.”

Mr Andrews would not be drawn on whether Victorians could be confident the “circuit breaker” lockdown would not be extended beyond Wednesday.

“We are well placed right now, but right now is too early to be definitive about Wednesday evening,” he said.

The Health Department confirmed there were two new cases on Monday, the other being a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

It brings the total number of active cases in the state to 21.

More than 25,000 Victorians were tested for the virus on Sunday, the highest single-day total for more than a month.

© AAP 2021