COVID-19

No new cases as QR code blunder slows tracing

No new coronavirus cases have been recorded in Victoria on Thursday, following almost 22,000 tests on Wednesday.There has been one new case identified in an overseas traveler who is currently in hotel quarantine.The 21,984 test results received on Wednesday came after a testing blitz in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.People in Epping and Altona North scrambled to get tested after a Wollert man tested positive after returning from India.Genomic sequencing has confirmed a Victorian man caught coronavirus in a South Australian quarantine hotel, as the Andrews government again comes under fire for the slow rollout of a statewide QR code system.The Department of Health was on Wednesday night probing more than 80 primary close contacts who may have come into contact with the COVID-infected man across four exposure sites.Hundreds more footy fans were urged to get tested and immediately isolate after he caught a Craigieburn-bound train from Flinders Street Station on Friday at 10.20pm, coinciding with the end of the Richmond and Geelong blockbuster.CCTV from Metro Trains was being used to determine patrons who shared a carriage with the man, while the AFL and clubs were contacting their members. The man’s household primary close contacts all returned negative results but remain in isolation.More than half of all 115 identified primary close contacts have since returned a negative COVID test. Acting Premier James Merlino confirmed on Thursday that 67 people hadn’t contracted the virus after coming into contact with a Wollert man who caught COVID in South Australian hotel quarantine.He said the remaining 48 people were expected to receive their results within the next 24 to 36 hours.All close contacts remain in isolation. Mr Merlino said early signs out of the COVID scare were “pretty positive”. “It’s positive so far,” he said.Meanwhile, SA’s chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said people who were on level three of the hotel during the “period of concern” and who have subsequently been discharged will be required to quarantine another 14 days. NED-3786 Melbourne Covid MapProfessor Spurrier said the “vast majority of medi-hotel staff who were working at the time had their required daily testing”, but five employees were still being followed up.Twenty-eight patrons and staff at the Curry Vault CBD restaurant, 17 people who attended the Pact Altona North exposure site, eight people who visited the Indiagate shop at Epping, and 28 shoppers at the Epping Woolworths have been identified as primary close contacts of the man. Of those 81 people, 41 had returned a negative test, as of Wednesday afternoon.Contact tracers were still scrambling to ensure they had identified every close contact, after Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed the Curry Vault restaurant hadn’t been actively enforcing QR code check-ins.But the owner of the Curry Vault Indian Restaurant and Bar, Kailash Sharma, told the Herald Sun he had numerous working check-in systems at his venue.“We request every customer to sign in,” he said.“I don’t know why people don’t check in, it’s easier for everybody if something unwanted like this happens.”The failure of the system has renewed pressure on the Andrews government over the delay in making a single QR code check-in system mandatory for all businesses.Venues or businesses can use any system, before the government’s Service Vic program becomes mandatory from May 28. NSW made its QR system mandatory for all hospitality venues and hairdressers on January 1.Opposition spokesman David Davis said: “The state government can’t just point the finger at restaurants or even the community. The confusion and chaos that’s been part of this has added to the ­issues.” Neither Mr Foley nor the Department of Health would confirm whether the restaurant or Mr Sharma would be fined over alleged breaches.Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said code compliance was a “joint effort”.“It’s not about naming and shaming, it’s about both businesses and customers doing the right thing and taking ­responsibility.”

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