Coles’ coronavirus: Second worker at supermarket giant Melbourne distribution centre tests positive

A second Coles worker at the supermarket’s Melbourne distribution warehouse has tested positive to coronavirus. 

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton confirmed on Thursday there are now two cases at the Laverton distribution centre in the city’s south-west. 

The first case was confirmed in a statement from Coles on Tuesday, saying the worker was self-isolating. 

‘Coles conducted contact tracing and a small number of team members identified as having had close contact have been instructed to self-isolate and be tested for COVID,’ a statement read.  

Meanwhile, Victoria has recorded another 33 COVID-19 cases, prompting a suburban testing blitz in 10 localities to regain control of the spread of the deadly virus.

The blitz will target 50 per cent of residents in Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.

‘The first three days are solely focused on Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows, but we will move to the balance of those suburbs over the course of a 10-day period,’ Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday.

The suburbs were selected for their high rates of recent community transmission cases and the risk that undetected cases were circulating.

Some 10,000 residents a day will be tested in the 10 locations by a fleet of 800 crew in mobile testing vans.

Of Victoria’s new cases, seven are returned travellers, nine are linked to known and contained outbreaks, six emerged after routine testing and the origin of another 11 cases are under investigation.

Seven Victorians are in hospital, and two of those are in intensive care.

Thursday’s figure is the highest daily number of new cases in Victoria since the surge started last week.

Victoria’s active cases jumped from 58 to 143 in the period June 17-24, while the rest of the country combined only had an increase of 20.

More than 1000 troops are coming to Victoria to help the state fight a growing coronavirus problem.

Aside from Australian Defence Force personnel, the state will also get assistance from NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland to process tests for the virus.

Victoria has currently been processing 18,000 tests a day, but now 25,000 tests a day will be processed with the help of the other states.

‘Whilst we’re going to have this targeted blitz in those worst-affected suburbs, our overall statewide surveillance, the tests that we will do in non-hot-spot communities, will remain very, very strong,’ Mr andrews said.

A handful of ADF staff have been helping out at Victoria’s state control centre for several months, but the contingent will now drastically ramp up.

‘Defence has been providing support to Victoria since April and I’m pleased we’re able to rapidly increase our assistance to help Victoria respond to its current COVID-19 circumstances,’ Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement.

Up to 850 ADF members will provide support to hotel quarantine monitoring and about 200 personnel will provide logistical and medical support for coronavirus testing.

The agreement will be in place until the end of July.

Community engagement in the local government areas of Brimbank, Casey, Cardinia, Darebin, Hume and Moreland has also ramped up after they were identified as coronavirus hotspots.

There’s 1000 health staff doorknocking in those local government areas to raise awareness.

These areas have large migrant populations, with many speaking languages other than English at home.

Information about the virus has been translated into 55 languages but the government has conceded it has to work harder to reach people.

Since the spike in new cases, drive-through testing sites have experienced extremely high demand while panic buying has also returned, with Coles and Woolworths reinstating purchase limits on items like toilet paper.