Zero new cases as hotel worker confirmed as having UK strain

The news comes as Victoria recorded no new cases of community transmission in the past 24 hours following 12,816 tests.The hotel quarantine worker – an authorised officer at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport – is aged in her 50s.Mr Andrews said eight primary social contacts for the hotel quarantine worker, and 136 work close contacts, were isolating.Authorities increased testing in Melbourne’s northwest on Monday as they rushed to contain a potential outbreak.Mr Andrews also revealed on Tuesday a person who had been in hotel quarantine, a returned traveller, had been transferred to intensive care overnight.“One hotel quarantine case, however, has been transferred to hospital and I’m advised is in intensive care,” Mr Andrews said.“That’s a returned traveller, not a community case but, of course, we send our best wishes to that person and their family and we again are reminded of the outstanding care that our health professionals provide to all of those who have been touched by this global pandemic.”On the long wait times Melburnians were enduring to get tested, Mr Andrews said: “I want to remind people that the reason it sometimes takes a little bit of time to get through the queue is that we have to run those sites as safely as possible.“We don’t want to turn a test location into a superspreading location.”

The Premier also responsed to experts who claimed that quarantine hotels were not fit to contain the mutating virus.ANDREWS DEFENDS HOTEL QUARANTINE SYSTEMMr Andrews defended the state’s hotel quarantine program, saying it was “one of the best” despite two COVID leaks.“I can say it because it’s true,” he said.“There’s not 3500 private security in our system (compared to NSW), do I need to go further than that?“I am very confident we have a system that is worthy of being copied by others. It’s not about boasting, it’s a fact.“If it were anything other than one of the best systems …. then I doubt very much any first ministers across the country would have agreed to copy it.” When asked about whether Victoria’s quarantine hotels were fit for purpose, Mr Andrews said he believed the state’s program led the nation. “We’ve ripped up the airconditioning in a number of these places and put new systems in,” he said.“We’ve changed the way air flows.We rip up the carpet in the common areas … so we can clean shared spaces where there could be a transmission to an industrial standard.“There’s 50 other points where we do things differently … If you add it all together it’s a very risk averse model.“I can’t rule out further changes.”“As the virus changes our systems have to change and I suppose my message to the Victorian community is they can have confidence that we’re always looking to be a step ahead of this virus.”OFFICE RETURN PLANS PAUSEDMr Andrews said plans to send 75 per cent of the private and public sector back to work were still paused, with discussions to be held later in the week.But he also stressed that he believed the way Victorians worked may have permanently changed.“I don’t think 100 per cent of people who worked in the city 100 per cent of the time are coming back,” Mr Andrews said. “There is a percentage of people whose productivity has not been harmed by this but they’re quite keen on being able to maintain a day or two days a week at home.“I will not be in the office as often as I used to be.“Some meetings I would always have done in person I will do from home.“This change is real and again I’m not necessarily happy about it. I’m not expecting people in the CBD to be joyous about it. I’m just trying to be frank and honest.”Mr Andrews said the government would work to figure out what a new normal looked like.“Maybe there is further support, different things we’ll have to do,” he said.“Not just right now but over the months and years to come.“Because their marketplace has fundamentally changed.”

HOTEL QUARANTINE STAFF STOOD DOWN AFTER POSITIVE CASEThe Holiday Inn hotel quarantine worker had tested negative on February 3 and 4 but, after two days off, returned to work on Sunday and was symptomatic an hour after her shift.She then returned a positive test, prompting the government to stand down 80 quarantine workers for testing along with nine police officers and 12 Defence personnel.Another 17 people are social and household contacts.The new case came four days after a 26-year-old Noble Park man working at the Grand Hyatt for the Australian Open quarantine program tested positive.Police Minister Lisa Neville, who is responsible for hotel quarantine, said it was not clear how the worker had been infected and genomic testing was under way.It was also not clear whether the infected worker had any involvement with a family of three who tested positive at the Holiday Inn before being moved to a health hotel.CCTV footage did not appear to show the authorised officer had done anything wrong during her shift.“As we saw at the Grand Hyatt, she’s also been wearing masks as required,” Ms Neville said. “An authorised officer doesn’t sit on the floors … but is responsible for issuing the detention notices when they arrive. Their key role is to provide the legal framework for the detention and also the exit.”

Victorian Commander of Testing Jeroen Weimar said the department was taking a “worst-case scenario” approach but believed the woman had only become infectious on Saturday or Sunday. He said it was unlikely she had picked up the virus outside hotel quarantine.“Her movements … have been relatively modest,” Mr Weimar said, after authorities listed three places she visited on Friday and Saturday.“Our contact tracing approach looks at all options so we don’t close our minds to any possibility.Mobile testing teams have been sent out to test the woman’s contacts or those who may have visited exposure sites.
Victorian COVID exposure sites

The Splash
Operating hours were also extended at the Shorten Reserve car park in West Footscray, Djerriwarrh Health Services in Melton West and Victoria University’s St Albans Campus to accommodate an expected increase in demand.But demand was so strong in St Albans wait times blew out to 45 minutes on Monday night.“Last week we surged in the southeast, now of course we turn to the northwest to see a surge in testing activity,” Mr Weimar said.

It comes as staff at a cake shop in Melbourne’s west said they learned through media reports, not from the Health Department, that they worked at an exposure site.Marciano’s Cakes in Maidstone was declared a potential exposure site just before 1am on Monday because the quarantine hotel worker visited the shop on Friday afternoon.
Move hotel quarantine out of Melbourne
In a Facebook post on Monday morning, Marciano’s Cakes staff said they had woken to the news their business, staff and customers were potentially exposed to the highly infectious coronavirus.Victoria currently has 20 active cases, along with the new case in the hotel quarantine worker.

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