COVID-19

Victoria’s lockdown to be extended as cases grow

It brings the state’s active case count to 67 as the number of exposure sites increases to 351.It comes as health authorities decide on whether to extend Victoria’s seven day snap lockdown.Victoria’s snap lockdown will likely be extended for another seven days, according to a report in the Herald Sun.The length of the extension was debated at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday night, but the lockdown is expected to remain in force until at least early next week amid fears over a more infectious “super strain”.Regional Victoria is also fighting to stay open, citing no positive cases in country areas.Acting Premier James Merlino earlier this week refused to rule out extending the lockdown, due to end on Friday.Mr Merlino said that decision would depend not just on case number but the “type of cases”, including whether they were in a high-risk setting and linked to other known infections.“There is no doubt the situation is incredibly serious,” Mr Merlino said. “The next few days remain critical … this outbreak may well get worse before it gets better.”Chief health officer Brett Sutton said the lockdown was being reviewed “day by day” but that the latest cases, particularly in aged care, were concerning.We are neck and neck with this virus, and it is an absolute beast,” Prof Sutton said.“It has been a rapidly moving virus and the transmission that has occurred in those high-risk settings has been very substantial.”Shoppers who visited six shopping precincts in the past two weeks may have been exposed to coronavirus as Victoria’s list of Covid-19 hot spots grows to 351. The alerts come after Victoria’s Covid testing commander Jeroen Weimar warned at least four of the state’s more than 50 locally transmitted cases had come from “fleeting” contact between Victorians.“What we’re seeing now is people are brushing past each other in a small shop, they are going to a display home, they are looking at photos in a Telstra shop,” he said.“This is relatively speaking, relatively fleeting. They do not know each other’s names, and that is very different from what we have been before.“This is stranger to stranger transmission.”Health authorities said more than 300 of those exposure sites had been connected to the City of Whittlesea outbreak, with concerns about shoppers who visited these areas in the past fortnight.NED-3869-Covid-19-Exposure-Sites-VictoriaNEW COVID FEARS FOR NSWNew South Wales has been hit with fresh Covid fears after a Victorian who was infected with the virus visited a string of venues in the South Coast and Southern Tablelands.The Melburnian was on a two-day visit, and on May 23 and 24 went to Jervis Bay, Hyams Beach, Vicentia and the city of Golburn, Daily Telegraph reports.He developed symptoms on May 25 once he was back in Melbourne, and tested positive to the Covid-19 days later.“NSW Health has been advised … a confirmed case of COVID-19 from Melbourne was in Jervis Bay, Goulburn, Hyams Beach, and Vincentia while potentially infectious on 23 and 24 May,” NSW Health said in a statement.“The person, who reported the onset of symptoms on 25 May and was tested yesterday, drove back to Melbourne on 24 May. Victoria’s stay-at-home measures took effect on 27 May.PM DEFENDS VACCINE ROLLOUTA new case of coronavirus has been transmitted from one traveller to another in hotel quarantine in Perth.It happened at the Pan Pacific hotel in the CBD after a man from Colombia arrived in Western Australia via the United States on May 21.Chief health officer Andy Robertson said that man tested positive for the virus on May 23.A man in the adjoining room, who had arrived on May 16, was tested on day 13 of his quarantine stay and also returned a positive result.He had the same strain as the man from Colombia, which indicated there had been transmission at the hotel.Other people on the floor and staff tested negative, but they will all be tested again.“So, it is just confined to that gentleman in the room next door,” Dr Robertson told reporters on Tuesday.It comes after Scott Morrison, who returned to parliament on Tuesday after meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, told a joint party room meeting on Tuesday that the vaccine program in NZ was behind Australia’s. “They run hotel quarantine the same way we do and they are just as exposed to the types of things we are exposed to,” the prime minister said. “But both countries have done extremely well when compared to the rest of the world.”Mr Morrison said when outbreaks do occur, the government needed to “fix it” and would not engage in “slanging matches”.“Australians, particularly Victorians, are looking to us and are wanting us to work with whoever we can to make sure Victoria is open as soon as possible and safely,” he said.Mr Morrison warned that the outbreak in Victoria could happen to any jurisdiction.He again reiterated that the election would be held “next year” because there was “lots of work to do”.Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also told the room that Victoria had asked for assistance.But Mr Frydenberg said the seven-day lockdown was short and could be managed at a local level. “They ran a pretty desperate attempt to smear us, when in reality the numbers tell a very different story,” Mr Frydenberg said. “Victoria has received more on a per capita basis than any other state.“We have already delivered $45bn plus to families and businesses, where the state government has delivered $13bn.”NED-3900-Age-Care-CovidVICTORIAN COVID CASES GROWIt comes as one of Tuesday’s three new local Covid-19 cases is under investigation, with contact tracers scrambling to confirm its source. There are now a total of 63 active cases and 329 exposure sites across Victoria.Two of the three cases were primary close contacts who were quarantining during their infectious period already.But Minister for Health Martin Foley said one case remained under investigation.“They are not a known contact and are not directly linked to any exposure site,” he told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.“But there is a very close proximity to that exposure site and we are confident the investigation will uncover further crossover.”Department of Health testing commander Jeroen Weimar said he was confident contact tracers would be able to confirm a link.“We know the venue where it happened and what case it was associated with,” he said.In terms of how many other cases health authorities did not know the source of, Mr Weimar said there were two.He said one missing link was between the Wollert man who arrived in Victoria from South Australia in early May and how he passed the virus on to case five in the first cluster.Meanwhile contact tracers were still investigating how an aged care worker at Arcare Maidstone contracted the virus from the City of Whittlesea and Port Melbourne clusters.Mr Weimar also shed light on how the virus was spreading across Melbourne, saying it was transmitting “stranger-to-stranger” which was “different to previous outbreaks”. “This is the biggest outbreak we’ve seen in Australia this year – It is certainly the fastest moving outbreak we‘ve seen anywhere in Australia,” he said. “We think it is a feature of the Indian variant which is that much more contagious, but not with every person.“We are seeing examples of people who aren‘t transmitting at all, as is the case with our original gentleman from Wollert who we think has only transmitted to one person.” “This is stranger to stranger transmission … we have at least four incidents of this cluster of 54, where people are unknown to each other before, during and after, but have transmitted to each other.”Mr Foley echoed the words of Mr Weimar about the new way the virus was spreading.“There is evidence of casual acquisition instead of those in direct close contact with friends at a pub (or) family members,” he said.“Our public health team are seeing more and more of this in this particular South Australian hotel outbreak.”There were no further infections linked to aged care after the four cases cropped up in the sector on Monday.Two staff members and one resident have contracted coronavirus at Arcare Maidstone, while it was also revealed on Monday another worker at the BlueCross Western Gardens nursing home in Sunshine tested positive.The next few days have been critical in deciding whether to extend the state’s lockdown.NED-1859 State of our bordersVICTORIA’S 5-DAY VACCINE BLITZ Victoria will undertake a vaccination blitz for aged care workers as it races to control the Covid-19 virus from spreading further into the high-risk sites.The state’s Ageing Minister Luke Donnellan said a five-day vaccineblitz will ensure workers in vulnerable settings are protected.“This is very much a call to arms of those workers on the frontline to come out and we will give you a priority lane,” he told reporters.It comes as Victoria’s Covid outbreak keeps growing with three new local cases and the list of exposure sites surpassing 300.Two of the three cases are primary close contacts who were quarantining during their infectious period. One is still under investigation. “There continues to be significant concerns around ongoing transmission and particularly our northern suburbs and many large exposure sites that have been added to the exposure site list over the last 36 hours,” Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley said.“Our public health team are currently weighing whether there is still coronavirus circulating in these communities and we still consider our response to the current outbreak on a day-by-day basis.”There are now 329 locations across dozens of suburbs including Chadstone Shopping Centre, the Peninsula Hot Springs and La Trobe University.There are now a total of 63 active cases across the state.The Victorian health department reported nine new cases on Tuesday, however six had previously been announced on Monday.The next few days have been critical in deciding whether to extend the state’s lockdown.WHERE AUSSIES COULD TRAVEL UNDER EXPANDED BUBBLEThe trans-Tasman travel bubble could be expanded to include other Pacific Islands, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. Mr Morrison touched down in famed ski town Queenstown, New Zealand, on Sunday afternoon to hold talks with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the Australia-New Zealand Leaders Forum. The visit comes after the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble last month and the Prime Minister hinted at expanding the travel bubble. “We are very focused on supporting our Pacific family, and the idea of a bubble that goes beyond New Zealand and Australia is a real possibility,” Mr Morrison told reporters. He spoke to colleagues in the region and noted Fiji was going through a “difficult time” at the moment but Australia was supporting the nation. It was not clear what countries could be included in the expanded bubble. The Australian and New Zealand leaders shared a traditional Maori Hongi greeting and signifies the sharing of life force. It is said the god Tāne-nui-a-Rangi moulded the shape of the first woman, Hine-ahu-one, from earth and breathed life into her by pressing his nose against hers.The moment between Ms Ardern and Mr Morrison is politically significant as it is believed to be the first meeting of world leaders without masks in a nation devoid of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Rising tensions with China and the severe economic impact of the pandemic in the Pacific are expected to be the focus of the meeting.It is only Mr Morrison’s second time leaving Australia in more than a year and he noted the last time he met Ms Ardern was in Sydney at the start of the pandemic. “Here we are, two countries – some 18 months later – two countries that have weathered the storm of Covid arguably better than any two countries anywhere else in the world, both from saving lives as well as saving livelihoods,” Mr Morrison said. He will attend a business function in Queenstown on Sunday before holding a private diner with Ms Ardern and both leaders’ partners.There will be more formal talks on Monday between the two.NED-3679-Indias-Mutant-Covid-19– Zoe Smith and David Aidone,

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