Victoria is racing to try to identify the source of the state’s first mystery COVID-19 case in more than two months, after recording no new infections.
The state had no local, interstate or overseas acquired cases to report on Thursday – its first clean sheet since December 29, the day before three cases linked to the NSW-seeded Black Rock cluster emerged.
Three infected people have also recovered, lowering the number of active cases to 38.
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The active case count includes a man in his 30s thought to have caught the virus either at Chadstone Shopping Centre on Boxing Day or the second day of the Test at the MCG the day after.
It’s the first case of unknown transmission in Victoria since early November.
Thousands of shoppers and cricket spectators have answered the call to get tested as officials scramble to find nail down the source of the man’s infection.
Some 32,767 swabs were processed in the 24 hours to Thursday, on top of more than 100,000 over the previous three days.
Tracing the source of the mystery case has been described by the state’s COVID response commander Jeroen Weimar as a “needle in a haystack exercise”.
There was a 30,000-strong crowd at each day of the Australia-India Test in Melbourne.
As many as 8000 people seated in zone five of the Great Southern Stand on the afternoon of December 27 have been asked to get tested and isolate until they return a negative result.
Thousands of shoppers who went to 10 Chadstone stores at specific times on Boxing Day have been told to do the same.
The infected man had not visited NSW or any high-risk exposure sites linked to Melbourne’s Black Rock cluster, which remains at 27 cases.
He was at a Christmas Eve function with someone from NSW, although Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said that person had not reported feeling unwell.
“It’s most likely we have another cluster going on,” he said.
The case is not believed to be linked to a COVID-positive Boost Juice staffer at Chadstone who last worked on December 29.
The man first developed symptoms on December 30 and had self-isolated at home from New Year’s Eve before getting tested on January 3.
His positive result came back on Tuesday.
Prof Cheng said the decision to list Chadstone and the MCG as possible infection sites was a “cautious” one.
The man’s close contacts are more likely to be the missing link in the transmission chain.
“He has had a number of contacts outside of just private contacts in private houses,” he said.
“I would think they are going to be probably more likely.”
© AAP 2021