COVID-19

100 isolate after new COVID case in hotel quarantine worker

The female authorised officer was working at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport and tested positive for COVID-19 late on Sunday.She had tested negative on February 3 and 4 but, after two days off, returned to work on February 7 and was symptomatic an hour after finishing her shift. After this, she returned a positive test.Victoria currently has 20 active cases, along with the new case in the hotel quarantine worker. 11,359 tests were carried out on Sunday.Police Minister Lisa Neville, who is responsible for hotel quarantine, said authorised officers did not sit on floors but were responsible for issuing detention notices to travellers arriving from overseas.Ms Neville said the worker had been very cooperative and had been wearing masks as required.She said it was too early to make a guess on whether the virus had been spread by aerosol. More than 100 people linked to the Holiday Inn case have already been asked to isolate for 14 days and be tested.Eighty quarantine workers and hotel staff have been stood down for testing, along with nine police officers and 12 Defence Force members.Fifteen social and household contacts have been linked to the new case.Three potential exposure sites and times were updated on Monday.They are:
* Marciano’s Cakes in Maidstone on Friday, February 5 from 9.45am to 10.25am;

* Dan Murphy’s in Sunshine on Friday, February 5 from 5.50pm to 6.30pm;

* Off Ya Tree Watergardens, Taylors Lakes, on Saturday, February 6 from 1.17pm to 1.50pm;

* Dan Murphy’s in Sunshine on Saturday, February 6 from 6.50pm to 7.30pm.
Victorian Commander of Testing Jeroen Weimar believes the worker became infectious on Sunday or Saturday. “We will take a worst-case scenario,” he said.“Her movements around the community have been relatively modest … our lead assumption is it was somewhere in the hotel quarantine program.” A family of three people who tested positive at the Holiday Inn were moved to a health hotel but the infected worker was not believed to have had any involvement with this family.The new case comes four days after a 26-year-old Noble Park man who was working at the Grand Hyatt for the Australian Open quarantine program tested positive.Health Minister Martin Foley said 661 primary close workplace contacts for the Grand Hyatt worker were isolating for 14 days, along with 584 primarily close contacts linked to 14 exposure sites in the south and southeast.

HOTEL QUARANTINE TESTING TO BE RAMPED UPPolice Minister Lisa Neville said testing on days off for hotel quarantine employees would begin on Monday.It will be voluntary at first, while contractual arrangements are finalised, and later become mandatory.At the Holiday Inn where the worker was infected, a family of three had tested positive to coronavirus and been moved to a health hotel.But it is not yet clear whether this infection was the source of the case.Ms Neville said there was currently no advice to limit or stop the program, with the number of returned travellers set to scale up later this month.“We’re changing the program all the time,” she said.“We’ve got the best infection prevention control people working in the program now. People who worked on Ebola.“We’ve seen in the last week that this virus is more contagious, it’s moving differently (and) it’s lasting longer which we’ve seen in New South Wales just this weekend.“This means we have to constantly review our program.”When asked about the confusion over ADF support over the weekend, Ms Neville said the state government had requested support and hoped some of these personnel could be used as floor monitors to free up Victoria police for regular duties.“With the scale-up, the planned scale-up, ultimately we will have nearly 1100 police involved and we were just hoping to free up a few of those for back into the community,” she said.“But as the Chief Commissioner and I have discussed many times there’s probably no more important role for them to be playing as well.“That’s not going to happen and those police are rightly placed in hotel quarantine.”ADF officials had toured facilities and given a picture of the work required.They agreed to provide floor monitor support in complex care but not in other hotels.Ms Neville said she was yet to be formally contacted about the number of ADF personnel being made available but had learned about it through media coverage.

DEFENCE FORCE STAFF LAND IN MELBOURNEFifty Defence Force personnel landed in Melbourne early on Monday following technical problems with a plane that saw more than a dozen other troops delayed in Townsville. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said 50 of the planned 63 personnel made it into Victoria to assist with hotel quarantine, with another 150 expected in coming days. Following reports Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley was not briefed on the further ADF support, Ms Reynolds said that was not her problem. “If his own department doesn’t brief him, that’s really an issue for the Victorian government,” Ms Reynolds told Nine on Monday morning.“All of these additional troops to take support from 12 to 22 hotels, the request came from the Victorian government.”AUS OPEN CHIEF URGES FANS TO ATTENDAustralian Open chief executive Craig Tiley says he wants Melburnians to come to the tennis, stressing it was one of the safest places to be. “We are here we are finally here and unbelievable team effort and massive coordination. And I’m sure there are many doubters out there — we thought we could pull it off,” Mr Tiley said.“We have learnt a lot more today than we knew three weeks ago. And bringing players over 1000 with their entourage from over 100 countries around the world have been a remarkable achievement. “They have been here and practising. Last week was a great warm-up. We had nine days between the end of quarantine (and) the start of this event so they are all ready.“So this is the first time in the remarkable achievement for our sport and for Melbourne — that first time in really 12 months you have live sporting event for two weeks with international superstars with crowds.”

RETURN TO WORK PLANS STALLThe state’s return-to-work plans ­remain “paused” and wearing of masks indoors is likely to continue for at least a week.Health Minister Martin Foley on Sunday said Victoria had reached the “halfway mark” in its battle to contain the latest hotel quarantine outbreak, hours before the new case was discovered.The number of close household contacts of the Grand Hyatt worker grew from 17 to 21 people, all had been tested and remained in quarantine, however no positive results had yet been received. Another 1151 close primary contacts of the man remained in isolation.COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said it would take two weeks from the first positive case before authorities considered relaxing mask rules and restrictions on gatherings, which is now likely to be impacted by the new case. Meanwhile Mr Foley defended the decision to allow 30,000 spectators to attend the Australian Open from Monday despite return-to-work plans being stalled.“The advice from the public health team is pretty clear,” he said. “Events that are outdoors, events that are in highly regulated environments, are able to be done safely.”While he appreciated the frustrations of businesses that expected to have 75 per cent of workers return to the office from last Monday, he said this was simply a “pause”. This was preferable to measures that “might put staying safe and staying open at risk”.
Victorian COVID exposure sites
MYSTERY CASE IN NSWHealth authorities in New South Wales issued an alert on Sunday night after a returned traveller tested positive for coronavirus two days after being released from hotel quarantine.The person from Wollongong tested negative twice during their hotel stay but returned the positive result on ‘day 16’.The infected person’s close contacts were on Sunday night self-isolating. Authorities released a list of four locations the person had visited, including a Wollongong cafe.It came as the state on Sunday marked 21 days with no community transmission.The day 16 test is not mandatory but strongly recommended as an enhanced measure to protect the community, NSW Health said.Victoria has in the past had cases where people have tested negative during their two-week hotel quarantine but later returned positive results.NEW TEST TO FOLLOW ISOLATION STRETCHVictoria is looking to test travellers for coronavirus two days after they are released from hotel quarantine, as part of new measures to stave off the more infectious UK strain.Health Minister Martin Foley said he was working with his interstate counterparts to introduce the “day-16 test”.It comes as the first of 230 more Defence Force personnel arrive as early as this morning — almost doubling the number of troops — to bolster Victoria’s quarantine program as it grows to 22 hotels.But the state government said it was “disappointed” the ADF had refused to monitor floors in hotels housing residents without coronavirus, but with “complex care” needs.“This deployment will support the increase in Victoria’s cap of international travellers but it will not assist in reducing the impact of hotel quarantine on use of Victoria Police resources, as the ADF have again declined requests to assist with floor monitoring in hotel quarantine,” a spokeswoman said.

Mr Foley said the new day 16 test would add a “further layer of protection” after a New Zealand woman tested positive after leaving quarantine in Auckland last month.He said the incubation periods of these “particularly wildly infectious new mutant varieties” changed all the time. It is understood the proposal will be put to the Australia Health Protection Principal Committee, which will discuss whether to make the test mandatory or recommended.“Of course, all the states have to co-operate very closely in this matter,” he said. “People who quarantine in Victoria return home to NSW and vice versa, so we’re working co-operatively with NSW to make sure that people who are released are aware of that 16-day new obligation to get tested.”

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