Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has reintroduced coronavirus restrictions after a Australian Open hotel quarantine worker in Melbourne became infected with Covid.
In a late night press conference on Wednesday, Mr Andrews announced private gatherings would be restricted to 15 and masks are once again mandatory indoors.
The restrictions, which come into effect from 11:59pm Wednesday, are the same as those imposed following the Black Rock cluster which emerged in late December.
‘We have to assume that this person has, in fact, infected others. And it’s through that abundance of caution that I’m announcing (the restrictions),’ Mr Andrews said.
He begged anyone with Covid-like symptoms to come forward for testing but urged residents not to panic over the worker’s positive case.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews (pictured) has reimposed restrictions after a hotel quarantine worker became infected with Covid
The infected 26-year-old man from Noble Park last worked at the Grand Hyatt Hotel (pictured) on January 29
From 11:59pm on Wednesday across Victoria:
– The limit on the number of people gathering in a household will be reduced from 30 to 15, meaning the household members plus 15 visitors (excluding children under 12 months of age)
– Masks will be mandatory in public indoor spaces. If you have visitors in your home, it is strongly recommended that masks are worn during the visit. Masks must be worn in indoor public spaces apart from when eating or drinking
– The 75 per cent ‘return to work’ cap in both public and private sectors scheduled for Monday, February 8 will be paused and the current cap of 50 per cent will remain in place
‘This is one case. There is no need for people to panic, there is no need for people to be alarmed,’ Mr Andrews said.
A 26-year-old man from Noble Park, Melbourne’s southeast, who was working as a resident support officer for the Australian Open quarantine program tested positive on Wednesday.
He has been moved to a health hotel and his household contacts have been put into isolation.
The man is a CFA volunteer and had attended at least one function.
Mr Andrews said the positive case may have an impact on an Australian Open lead-up event on Thursday but did not foresee it would have an effect on the tournament itself.
‘There’s a number of about 500 or 600 people that are either players and officials and others who are casual contacts. They will be isolating until they get a negative test,’ Mr Andrews said.
The man last worked at the Grand Hyatt hotel on January 29 and returned a negative test that day. It is unclear how he became infected.
‘Subsequently, he’s developed symptoms, gone and got tested, and has been tested positive. That result has come back (Wednesday),’ Mr Andrews said.
‘We can’t necessarily determine how it is that the person was infected. All of that will become clearer with further examination of CCTV footage and genomic sequencing, further testing – all of that coronavirus detective work that’s already well and truly underway.’
Residents who have any Covid-like symptoms are urged to get tested as soon as testing clinics open from 8am on Thursday
Health authorities are bracing themselves for the possibility the man has contracted the much more highly-infectious UK strain of Covid.
An urgent alert has gone out for a number of venues across southeast Melbourne which are listed as exposure sites after they were visited by the infected individual.
They include the Kmart at Brandon Park, Bunnings at Springvale and Coles, also at Springvale.
Monday, February 1:
– Bunnings: Springvale – 11:28am – 12:15pm
– Golf Academy: Heatherton – 5:19pm – 6:30pm
Sunday, January 31:
– Northpoint Café: Brighton – 8:10am – 9:30am
– Kmart: Keysborough – 4:00pm – 5:00pm
– Kmart: Brandon Park – 4:35pm – 5:10pm
– Coles: Springvale – 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturday, January 30:
– Club Noble: Noble Park – 2:36pm – 3:30pm
– Aces Sporting Club (Driving Range): Keysborough – 10:00pm – 11:15pm
Anyone who has visited these exposure sites during the times listed must immediately isolate, get a coronavirus test and remain isolated for 14 days.
The Victorian Department of Health said its public health teams are investigating the new case and close contacts are being notified.
The alert comes after two separate groups of guests in adjacent rooms at Melbourne’s Park Royal Hotel tested positive for the more infectious B117 coronavirus variant, first detected in the United Kingdom.
Victoria’s Police Minister Lisa Neville, responsible for overseeing the revamped hotel quarantine program, said genomics had shown the infections were identical.
‘That means it’s as if they have been in the same room together,’ she told reporters on Wednesday.
One of the groups, a family of five who are all now infected with the virus, arrived from Nigeria on January 20 and tested positive four days later.
A fellow returned traveller in an adjacent room, who restarted her 14-day quarantine stint after her husband arrived on January 16, twice tested negative before returning a positive result on January 28.
Questions remain over how the woman in her 60s became infected, given her partner’s day three and 11 swabs were negative.
The alert comes after two separate groups of guests in adjacent rooms at Melbourne’s Park Royal Hotel tested positive for the more infectious UK coronavirus variant
Ms Neville said security footage outside the rooms had been reviewed, with no indication of any breach of protocols by the families or staff during their stay.
‘The viral load in the room of the family of five … was so high that just even opening the door to pick up your food has seen the virus get into the corridor,’ she said.
‘That is the working assumption.
‘There has been absolutely no kids running down corridors or movement between the rooms at all.’
The infected woman remembers opening her door at the same time as the room next door but she has not been able to pinpoint the exact date or time.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Melanie Van Twest said authorities believe the potential room leak stemmed from the family’s collective infectiousness in combination with the potent UK strain.
The Victorian Department of Health said its public health teams are investigating the new case and close contacts are being notified
Deputy Chief Health Officer Melanie Van Twest said authorities believe the potential room leak stemmed from the family’s collective infectiousness in combination with the potent UK strain
‘This might be a Swiss cheese line of holes where everything has lined up to create this particular event,’ she said.
‘As far as we know, there’s no community transmission. This has happened within the hotel. It’s contained.’
The hotel’s ventilation system will be reviewed, although Ms Neville said an earlier report had found no air was being shared between rooms or into common spaces.
‘It’s probably unlikely to have been the ventilation system in this case,’ she said.
All positive cases have been moved to a health hotel and remain in isolation, while the husband of the infected woman has been moved to another room.
Some 100 hotel quarantine staff members and 37 returned travellers who have completed their 14 days on the impacted floor are now self-isolating at home. None have tested positive thus far.