One of Victoria’s biggest coronavirus clusters came from a Muslim family who broke public health orders to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
The state has had 128 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, with 20 cases and a death recorded on Wednesday.
A gathering in Coburg, north of the city, last month has been linked to at least 14 cases across multiple households.
The party was to celebrate Eid – the end of the Muslim holy month – on the weekend of May 23 and 24.
Attendees were in breach of Victoria’s lockdown measures, which at the time prohibited households from having more than five guests.
A gathering in Coburg, north of the city, last month has been linked to at least 14 cases across multiple households. Pictured: Muslims gather to perform the Eid Al Adha prayer at Sunshine Mosque in Melbourne, Australia on September 1, 2017. Large gatherings were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19
Victoria’s active cases have jumped from 58 to 143 in the past eight days, while the rest of the country combined has only had 20. Pictured: Shoppers at Broadmeadows shopping centre on June 23
Australians have been warned to stay away from six council in Melbourne: Hume, Casey and Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin
A Health Department spokesman said the contact-tracing process relating to the Coburg family cluster is ongoing.
A woman who was tested at Pakenham Medical Clinic in Melbourne’s southeast on June 10, and returned a positive result three days later, is believed to have contracted the virus at the gathering.
A receptionist from the clinic told The Australian that the doctor who treated the patient remained in quarantine and hasn’t tested positive.
It’s believed the woman’s two children from Pakenham Springs Primary School, who tested positive, are part of the same cluster.
There are five active cases in Cardinia Shire, which includes Pakenham.
Brimbank, Casey, Cardinia, Darebin, Hume and Moreland were identified as coronavirus hotspots.
The areas are home to large migrant populations, with many speaking languages other than English at home.
Islamic Council of Victoria vice-president Adel Salman said he heard speculation about large gatherings within the Muslim community, but said there was no proof of links to new cases.
‘By and large, I think the Muslim community has been exemplary,’ Mr Salman said.
It comes amid concerns that cultural confusion over the lifting of lockdown restrictions contributed to the fresh outbreak in Melbourne.
Drive-through testing sites have experienced extremely high demand, with four hour-long waits at some sites and people turned away at others. Testing staff are seen at a pop-up site at Keilor Community Hub
Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria chairman Eddie Micallef expressed concern poor health literacy has exacerbated the latest wave of cases.
He believes it’s the result of confusing messaging and general community complacency as lockdown restrictions eased in recent weeks.
‘I think there was a little bit of complacency. I think the message started to get lost,’ Mr Micallef said.
Victoria needs to ‘lift our game’ in ensuring the message gets out to ethnic communities, he told the ABC.
However there being 53 languages available on the Health Department website.
Victoria’s active cases have jumped from 58 to 143 in the past eight days, while the rest of the country combined has only had 20.
Victoria called in the military and asked other states for help as it struggles to contain a surge in cases.
Victoria’s latest COVID-19 cases
20 new cases in the last 24 hours
696, 263 tested
141 active cases
20 Victorians dead
The Australian Defence Force, as well as NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland have been enlisted.
‘This support will mean we can get even more tests done and results back quickly – and a stronger effort to remind Victorians if you are sick, stay home and get tested,’ a government spokeswoman said in a statement.
It’s understood Victoria has requested about 500 ADF personnel, who will assist with emergency management, logistics and hotel quarantine, with further details to be worked out.
At least 33 staff working at quarantine hotels have been infected with COVID-19 and health officials are investigating links between the workers and other outbreaks.
Currently, 30 people in hotel quarantine have the virus.
A Victorian man in his 80s is Australia’s first coronavirus death in over a month, bringing the state’s death toll to 20 and nationally to 103.
Of the state’s 20 new cases on Wednesday, nine were identified through routine testing, seven are linked to known outbreaks and one is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine. Three cases remain under investigation.
Since the spike in new cases, drive-through testing sites have experienced extremely high demand, with four hour-long waits at some sites and people turned away at others.
The state’s total number of infections is 1,884.