Victoria records five new Covid cases

Five new locally acquired cases have been recorded overnight, with one new case detected in hotel quarantine. The new case in hotel quarantine is believed to have been infected overseas. Health authorities received 36,362 tests on Friday, with more than 24,000 vaccine doses administered. Friday’s test numbers saw a drop off of more than 13,000 tests from the previous day. The Department of Health reported 49,439 tests were returned on Thursday when four new local cases were recorded.There are 78 active Covid cases across the state.- Olivia JenkinsURGENT VIRUS ALERT FOR SHOPPING CENTREA Costco store has been added to Victoria’s growing list of Covid-19 public exposure sites, which has now risen above 360.The Department of Health also issued health warnings for a shopping centre in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs and an office building along Collins St in the CBD. Anyone who visited the Costco Superstore at the Docklands on May 30 from 3pm-4pm is urged to get tested immediately and to isolate until a negative result is returned, under Tier 2 requirements. The same advice is given to anyone who visited the Merrifield City Shopping Centre at Mickleham on May 31 between 9.45am-10.40am and the office building located at 55 Collins St on May 25 from 8.30am-6.30pm. RACE TO FIND ‘DISTURBING’ Covid VARIANT SOURCEAuthorities were on Friday night scrambling to find the source of an alarming new strain of coronavirus.The Delta strain — which devastated India — has been detected in seven people in Melbourne, including three children.Contact tracers are working to find the source after genetic testing revealed the strain in at least two people in a family of four who travelled on holiday to regional NSW at the end of May.The hyper-infectious strain has ravaged India, is on the rise in the UK and has been listed as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation.There are also fears it may transmit more easily through children and appears to have spread further, to another family of three, through two Grade 5 children coming into contact at North Melbourne Primary School.The cluster is now made up of seven people, the family of four who visited Jervis Bay in New South Wales and three new cases — two parents and a child — reported on Friday. NED-3679-Indias-Mutant-Covid-19It is just the second time this strain of coronavirus has been detected in the Australian community and has not been traced back genetically to any existing Delta infections, including those in hotel quarantine.Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said the discovery was “disturbing news” but the government had spent the last two days chasing down close contacts. This included about 300 people from North Melbourne Primary School, with about 70 per cent testing negative so far.“The fact that it’s a variant that is different to all of our other cases means that it is not related in terms of transmission (to the previous outbreak),” Prof Sutton said. “It has not been linked to any sequenced cases across Australia from hotel quarantine or anywhere else.“We are examining who is the likely index case in this family and therefore trying to trace back where this variant has been picked up.” Prof Sutton said it was possible the strain had been picked up in New South Wales.“We have to explore all avenues,” he said.“The average incubation time is about six days, and that puts it in NSW, Jervis Bay territory, or indeed earlier.“We have to be clear who the likely first case in this cluster is and then go through a really forensic process.“Its obviously had very high transmission potential because it’s spread, extremely rapidly across India to become the predominant variant, indeed almost the exclusive variant there.” Deoples COVID-19 Victorian Exposure Sites TableIn total, there were four new cases of coronavirus reported on Friday and all were linked to existing outbreaks.Of these, one was the partner of a previous positive case and part of the Port Melbourne cluster while the other three were those linked to the West Melbourne Delta cluster. The active number of cases linked to clusters across Melbourne has grown to 64.Health Minister Martin Foley said the results were proof that the fight against the outbreak was working – but was not yet over. “We are working day in and day out to make sure we overcome this virus,” he said.“Everybody knows it is hard work, that it is important work if we’re to get on top of this virus.”The government added seven new exposure sites on Friday including three Tier 1 locations.These were Kmart and Punjabi by Nature at Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, both visited after 5pm on May 26.World Shiner on Collins St in Melbourne’s CBD was also listed all day on May 31.OPSM 233 Collins Street, Barkly Square Shopping Centre, Coles Barkly Square and Gangemi in Brunswick were all listed as Tier 2 sites for May 27 and 31.- Kieran Rooney

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