Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and ABC host Leigh Sales have engaged in a fiery exchange over the state’s snap five-day lockdown as just one new locally acquired case of Covid-19 was reported.
In a heated press conference on Monday morning, Mr Andrews was forced to defend plunging 6.4million Victorian residents into lockdown again after being bombarded with questions from the 7:30 host.
Ms Sales quizzed Mr Andrews on why the lockdown had been initiated if the government had confidence in its hotel quarantine systems and contact tracing.
‘If you have confidence in the system which your own bureaucrat just explained frankly is working quite well, why did you lockdown?,’ Ms Sales asked.
‘What I’m trying to get to is, lockdown imposes a real cost and Victorians have already paid a big price for lockdown. Cases are actually very well traced, so why the lockdown?’
Mr Andrews said Ms Sales had made ‘a number of assertions’ and argued lockdown was based on the public health advice he had been given.
‘The speed at which this has moved saw our public health team make the very difficult decisions based on the best of science and the best understanding you can possibly have on any outbreak, that this was a difficult but proportionate and necessary thing to do,’ he said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) has defended plunging the entire state into a snap five-day lockdown, as one new locally acquired case of Covid-19 was recorded on Monday
ABC 7:30 host Leigh Sales (pictured) quizzed Mr Andrews about the decision to enter the lockdown at a heated press conference on Monday
Recent five-day lockdowns in Western Australia and Queensland were only contained to specific areas not the entire state.
The exchange came as Mr Andrews refused to rule out whether the lockdown will end on Wednesday.
‘I’m not in a position to be able to confirm that but I can say that thanks to the hard work of those Victorians who are coming forward and getting tested,’ he said.
‘I think we are well placed. However, I’ve never been one to try and make bold predictions.’
SALES v ANDREWS
Sales: Premier, what do you say today to Victorians who… might be asking how is it a case that the government still lacks such confidence in the hotel quarantine systems and contact tracing that you currently can’t manage two to three cases of Covid a day in a population of about 6.3million people
Andrews: You’ve made a number of assertions there
Sales: They’re all facts actually
Andrews: No they’re not. You’ve just put it to me there’s a lack of confidence. I’m more than confident in the team we have and in the Victorian community that they can get through this. So with the greatest of respect, you have put a number of things to me that are not accurate
Sales: If you have confidence in the system which your own bureaucrat just explained frankly is working quite well, why did you lockdown?
Andrews: Because the public health advice to me is given the speed at which this moves, given the assumption that has to guide the decision making, much as it would have I’m sure guiding decision making to close the Northern Beaches in Sydney, or Perth or Brisbane or Adelaide, where there’s been similar issues coming out of hotel quarantine, the public health advice particularly with this UK strain… close contacts have been infected by the time we became aware of the primary case. That is the definition of something moving fast.
The new locally acquired case on Monday is a woman who attended a family function with a COVID-infected hotel quarantine worker on February 6.
The woman is asymptomatic and was tested four times at the weekend, returning both negative and ‘weak positive’ results.
‘Given her exposure and the variability of those results, the public health team have taken the most conservative approach and have deemed her a positive case,’ Mr Andrews said.
He said the woman worked in a psychiatric unit at the Alfred Hospital and on psychiatric wards at the Northern Hospital in Broadmeadows, which is run by Royal Melbourne Hospital.
‘Those services have had those wards locked down. Staff, all those that she may have come in contact with, they are all isolating and have been tested,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘This has been a very rapid response and one that is filled with an abundance of caution but that is exactly the approach that we ought to take.’
Victoria’s COVID-19 Testing Commander Jereon Weimar said 150 primary close contacts across the two hospitals have been identified.
‘The majority are staff at those facilities, a very small number of patients,’ he said.
The woman is the mother of a three-year-old who tested positive to the virus on Sunday.
Mr Weirmar said the child attended Glenroy Central Kinder and Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Glenroy over three days last week. About 101 primary close contacts have been identified.
The woman and child, as well as another woman aged in her 50s, contracted the virus after attending a family function on Sydney Road in Coburg on February 6.
The function was attended by 38 people including a worker from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport, who had returned a negative test result on February 7.
The venue was not listed as an exposure site until February 12, two days after the hotel quarantine worker eventually tested positive.
A review of the worker’s February 7 test result found it was a ‘false negative’.
Some 17 people linked to the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn have tested positive for COVID-19.
Melbourne’s popular Queen Victoria Market fruit and vegetable section has been named as a new exposure spot on Thursday February 11 from 8.25am to 10.10am along with the women’s toilets in section two
The news comes as Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market and three popular tram routes across the city’s CBD have been put on high alert after being exposed to positive Covid-19 cases.
Four new locations were added by Victorian health authorities on Sunday evening after the state recorded two new local coronavirus cases.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said an infectious person caught a tram to the market on Thursday, February 11.
The person caught the No.11 tram from Harbour Esplanade/Collins St at 7.55am to the William/Collins St stop at 8.10am, making it the first new exposure site.
They then caught the No. 58 Yarra Tram from the Bourke/William St stop at 8.10am to the Queen Victoria/Peel St stop just before 8.25am.
They went into the Queen Victoria Market fruit and vegetable section and the women’s toilets in section two, making it an exposure site from 8.25am to 10.10am.
The person then caught the No.58 Yarra tram back from the Queen Victoria Market at 9.40am to the Bourke/William St stop at 9.55am making it the fourth exposure site.
Anyone at those locations at the same time as the positive Covid-19 case must immediately isolate for 14 days and get tested.
A Melbourne man outside Flinders Street Station on Sunday during the five-day lockdown
A roller bladder takes advantage of the city’s deserted streets on the first day of the five-day snap lockdown on Saturday
The two new cases were linked to the Holiday Inn outbreak at Melbourne Airport, taking the total to 16 cases
Disturbing new details meanwhile emerged about a dinner party at Coburg on Sunday, with health authorities revealing 38 people had gathered for the event.
Testing commander Jeroen Weimar said a number of positive cases had been traced to the function.
He rejected claims that a woman aged in her 50s who is linked to the Coburg function had gone there instead of being in isolation while infectious.
Instead, she had been infectious before she had been identified with testing.
‘The staff member was identified on Wednesday and tested positive on Wednesday this week, that is February 10,’ Mr Weimar said.
‘At that point, the social contact point of the Saturday was not identified in those early conversations.’
‘There was a negative test result that she returned as part of her normal workplace testing on the seventh but that has since been reviewed and that test is now a week positive and we have had to take the timeline back to include the sixth.’
The outbreak, linked to the Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport, grew to 14 cases on Saturday, after a single additional case was recorded (pictured, cleaners in PPE disinfect the hotel on Wednesday)
Greek tennis player Michail Pervolarakis (pictured) has also tested positive to Covid-19 after leaving Melbourne and travelling to South Africa
‘The genomics is clear that this is all part of the same strain,’ Mr Weimar said.
To encourage everyone at the function to step forward with contact tracing and testing, Mr Weimar said the owner of the venue would not be fined for a potential covid regulation breach.
LATEST COVID EXPOSURE SITES:
Authorities identified new Victorian exposure sites on Sunday:
Queen Victoria Market: Fruit and vegetable section, female toilets in section two, 8.25 to 10.10am on 11/2/2021
No.58 Yarra Tram: From Bourke Street / William Street stop at 8.10am to Queen Victoria / Peel Street stop just before 8.30am, 11/2/2021
No. 58 tram: Queen Victoria Market at 9.40am to the Bourke Street / William Street stop at 9.55am, 11/2/2021
No.11 tram: Harbour Esplanade / Collins Street stop to the William Street / Collins Street stop between 7.55 and 8.10am, 11/2/2021
Broadmeadows: Woolworths, Broadmeadows Central, 12.15pm to 12.30pm on 9/2/2021
Broadmeadows: Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses, 12.30pm to 12.45pm on 9/2/2021
Pascoe Vale: Elite Swimming Pascoe Vale, from 5pm to 6pm on 8/2/2021
Pascoe Vale: Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre, from 4pm to 7.30pm 10/2/2021
Affected sites are constantly changing: for a full list of current affected sites see Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services website here.
‘I’m not remotely interested in who did what at what time,’ he said.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said contact tracers had reduced the number of primary close contacts from the Holiday Inn cluster down from 996 to 940.
Of nearly 1000 close contacts, 129 are direct family relations of those who tested positive from the Holiday Inn exposure.
‘It is too early to say whether we have been successful, but the signs show Victorians are doing the right thing, supporting each other, and our test, trace and isolate system is staying ahead of this,’ he told reporters on Sunday.
‘But it is too early to say as yet whether this fantastic effort by all Victorians has got us there.’
‘We will continue to monitor it on a day-by-day basis, really it is up to the shared effort of all Victorians.’
Mr Foley said the child and the quarantine worker revealed as positive on Sunday had been from separate households.
‘Both have been in isolation since February 12 and both tested and returned a positive sample in isolation on February 13.’
The toddler went to the Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Glenroy, but the childcare centre has not yet been added to the list of exposure sites.
Regarding the three different test outcomes for the child’s mother, Testing commander Jeroen Weimar said the experts were working on it.
‘Our epidemiologists and specialists are working with her and with our labs to be clear about the nature of what possible infection she may have, whether she is at the start of our infectious period or whether she is coming towards the end,’ he said.
‘Serology is being done, and we will work out over the next few hours exactly where this individual stands.’
Authorities have also identified four more exposure sights after the three-year-old child and quarantine worker visited several venues while infected.
Melbourne has become deserted as the city enters its second day of a five-day long lockdown
One of the cases visited a Woolworths at Broadmeadows Central, in Melbourne’s north, between 12.15pm and 12.30pm on February 2.
The person then visited Pascoe Vale Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre between 4pm and 7.30pm on February 10.
They also went to Elite Swimming in Pascoe Vale between 5pm and 6pm on February 8.
Another positive Covid-19 case visited Broadmeadows Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse on Pascoe Vale Road between 12.30pm and 12.45pm on February 9.
Melbourne has recorded two new local cases of Covid-19 and identified four more potential exposure sites (pictured, Victorian health minister Martin Foley)
‘If you have been to these sites you will need to isolate, to get tested and to stay isolated for 14 days,’ Mr Foley said.
‘That goes above and beyond the general circuit maker that we are currently in,’ he said.
The health minister refused to comment further on the original Holiday Inn case after a man was accused of sparking the Covid-19 outbreak after using a nebuliser.
‘Since I have been the minister for health I have made it crystal clear that I do not comment on individual cases and put people and families through trauma,’ he said.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews told the media on Sunday that the two new cases were connected to the Holiday Inn – but both had also gone to the Coburg function
‘And I will not be starting that today. This family needs to put all of its effort into getting well.’
The new cases come after Greek tennis player Michail Pervolarakis tested positive to Covid-19 after he flew from Melbourne to South Africa.
Pervolarakis had represented his home country at the ATP Cup before he left the city on February 9.
Tennis Australia says he tested negative to Covid-19 the day he left Melbourne.
‘His own medical advice is that it was likely he contracted the virus in Doha or on the plane,’ a spokesperson said.
Pervolarakis took to Instagram on Saturday to say he was ‘completely asymptomatic’.
‘I am completely asymptomatic at the moment and will have to quarantine in an isolation facility in Potchefstroom,’ he said on his Instagram account.
Melbourne’s empty streets on Sunday, under lockdown again for five days
‘I am not a person that complains, but I feel that I need to express my disappointment with the conditions we are in.’
Victoria recorded one new case in hotel quarantine, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 22.
Mr Weimar added all 12 staff had tested negative at the Brunetti Cafe in Terminal 4 at Melbourne Airport.
The cafe was listed as an exposure site after a Covid-19 positive person visited the venue on February 9.
NEW RESTRICTIONS FOR VICTORIA FROM 11.59PM ON FRIDAY FEB 12
From Friday February 12 at 11.59pm, new rules apply to Victoria for five days until 11.59pm on Wednesday February 17 due to a worrying new outbreak of the UK mutant strain of Covid-19.
- Stage Four lockdown for the entire state
- Only four essential reasons to leave the house – essential shopping, essential work/education, care-giving or two hours of exercise per day
- All residents must stay within 5km of their home other than essential work or shopper
- Outdoor exercise must be with your household, intimate partner or one other person not from your household
- Mandatory masks everywhere except your home
- No visitors to anyone’s home
- All non-essential shops will be closed
- Public gatherings banned
- Work from home
- Schools closed except for vulnerable children
- Places of worship closed
- Weddings banned
- Funerals capped at 10 people
- Community spaces including swimming pools and libraries closed
‘Of the 44 customers, customers we believe visited there during that time, 19 of those are interstate and are being supported by interstate colleagues,’ he said.
‘My thanks to our health teams in other states for the coordinated way in which we continue to work.’
Mr Weimar added viral fragments had also been found in wastewater in Coburg and South Melbourne.
‘We have two detections that we are currently investigating. One is in the Coburg catchments which takes in Coburg, Coburg North, and the other is in the south of Melbourne, that Punt Road, Clarendon Street area, which we are keen to understand more of,’ he said.
Quarantine staff and soldiers prepare to welcome international travellers for quarantine at the Novotel Melbourne on Saturday
‘We do have a couple of exposure sites, a few cafes in that area that are listed on our website, so I would really encourage people who are in Reservoir, Southbank, South Melbourne to be extra vigilant and come forward to be tested if you have any symptoms.’
Victoria has entered its second day of a five-day long lockdown as the state attempts to curb the spread of an outbreak at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn.
Millions have been plunged back into the hardship they thought had been left behind with the lengthy restrictions and economic sacrifices of 2020.
Roads and Flinders Street Station have been emptied as the city pushes through its five-day lockdown
Florists and restaurants hoping to receive bumper trading for Valentine’s Day are gutted at the loss of income they will incur as fresh produce goes unsold.
Mr Foley said it was too early to tell whether the five-day lockdown would have to be extended.
‘What we have today is the first day of a five day quick snap shot to get ahead of this,’ he said.
‘It is too early to say whether we have been successful but the signs that show Victorians are doing the right thing, supporting each other, all of these are positive measures.’
A woman is seen walking along the deserted Bourke Street Mall as Melbourne enters Stage 4 restrictions
The man accused of being at the centre of a the Hotel Inn outbreak had used a medical device for his asthma called a nebuliser in their hotel room, despite them being banned outside of medi-hotels.
The nebuliser’s use has been attributed to spread of coronavirus at the Holiday Inn.
The man hit back at what he felt was authorities’ criticism of him, claiming he had declared the nebuliser to medical staff at the hotel.
On Saturday however, head of the state’s hotel quarantine authority Emma Cassar denied he told staff about it.
‘I can categorically say that there is no evidence from our audit that he has raised this with our health team,’ she said.
Ms Cassar said the man had been badly treated by the media and she was sorry about his experience.
‘We have never accused him of doing the wrong thing,’ she said.
Millions have been plunged back into the hardship they thought had been left behind with the lengthy restrictions and economic sacrifices of 2020
There are close to 1000 primary close contacts associated with the Holiday Inn cases who are isolating for 14 days and being tested. Their results are expected to start trickling through on Sunday and Monday.
He defended the ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown saying he could not ignore advice from experts.
‘I’ve got advice to do it. I’ve done it. It’s based on science,’ he said.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton addressed concerns about legal provisions for the lockdown to go until February 26.
‘Nothing should be read into it as having any intention to extend a day beyond when we think they need to be in place. For now, that’s five days,’ he said.
Until 11.59pm on Wednesday, Victorians are only able to leave home to shop for essential items, provide or receive care, exercise and to work or study if they can’t from home.
Similar to stage-four restrictions last year, there’s a five-kilometre travel limit, compulsory face mask usage and no home visitors.