Victoria has recorded four new positive COVID-19 cases, with two announced by health authorities on Sunday and a further two connected with an aged care facility in Melbourne’s west revealed later.
- Four new locally acquired cases and six new cases in hotel quarantine have been recorded
- There are more than 300 exposure sites as tracers try to contain two separate COVID-19 variants
- Experts say it is likely the Delta variant came from the hotel quarantine system
More than 29,000 test results were returned and 19,940 vaccinations administered at state-run centres on Saturday.
Two positive cases in addition to those revealed by Victorian health authorities have been confirmed by aged care facility Arcare Maidstone.
They are a 79-year-old resident and an agency registered nurse.
The resident had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and is asymptomatic but will be transferred to hospital for public health reasons.
The nurse had received one vaccine dose and all staff who worked on Saturday will be required to get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days.
Acting Premier James Merlino said the two new cases were known primary close contacts of existing cases.
They include a person in their 50s who was employed at a Port Melbourne finance company that was an exposure site.
Mr Merlino said that person had been isolating during their entire infectious period.
The other positive case is a teacher at the school linked to the West Melbourne cluster.
There were six new cases in returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.
Extra tourism support, with boost for Alpine operators
The Victorian Government has also announced a $32.2 million tourism package, which will include a fourth release of regional tourism travel vouchers.
There will be 80,000 vouchers released under the next round of the travel voucher program.
Mr Merlino said tourism operators across the state would get a “tourism supplement top-up” of $4,500, while there will also be a targeted Alpine Support Program of $4.4 million.
“This is an acknowledgement that when you think about the ski season and the disruption in terms of the lockdown and a period of time of restricted travel for Melburnians, this is particularly disproportionately going to impact on our Alpine resorts and all of our tourism operators who support that,” he said.
On-mountain operators will be eligible for grants of up to $15,000 while off-mountain operators connected with the state’s Alpine resorts will be eligible for grants of $5,000.
Warning of need to address ‘upstream risk’
Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Allen Cheng said it was important that testing numbers remain strong to ensure cases are being detected.
He said despite relatively low numbers of cases, authorities were still concerned about getting on top of the virus at an “upstream” level.
“We think about it in terms of upstream risk and downstream risk,” he said.
“In terms of downstream risk we’re neck and neck with the virus at this stage.”
“Of the people that we’re finding, there’s a small number of exposure sites, but really most of the people we’re seeing at the moment are people who are already in quarantine, so there’s no downstream risk there.”
He said being unable to work out where some people had caught the virus, particularly the Delta variant, was of great concern.
“For the family that returned from Jervis Bay, we are concerned about who was it that might have given them the infection and therefore could there be other infections related to that.”
He said about 5 per cent of Victorians had been tested over the past week.
“If there was a big outbreak going on, we would expect to have picked it up, but there’s always that risk,” he said.
Strong focus on tracing Delta’s origins
Contact tracers are working to contain the spread of two separate variants of the virus — Kappa, which was first picked up in Victoria’s outbreak, and the more infectious Delta, which had not been detected in the Australian community before.
Professor Cheng said the Whittlesea cluster had grown to 29, the Port Melbourne workplace cluster had increased to 30 cases and there were 10 cases associated with the West Melbourne cluster.
Mr Merlino said a text message was being sent out to community members in Craigieburn and surrounding areas after the Craigieburn Central shopping centre was listed as an exposure site.
Jewellery wholesalers added to exposure sites
More than 300 exposure sites have been listed as health authorities attempt to get ahead of the virus.
Public health teams are also looking at a network of jewellery wholesalers at 227 Collins Street, in Melbourne’s CBD.
A business in that building had been previously listed as an exposure site.
Now, anyone who was on level four or five between May 31 and June 3 during normal business hours is considered a primary close contact and must get tested and quarantine for 14 days.
Meanwhile, health authorities have also been urging residents and visitors to a number of suburbs in Melbourne’s inner west and northern suburbs to monitor for symptoms of coronavirus after an unexpected detection of COVID-19 in wastewater.
The suburbs include Aberfeldie, Essendon, Essendon West, Flemington, Footscray, Kensington, Maribyrnong, Moonee Ponds, Parkville, and Travancore.