Scott Morrison has backed a short, sharp lockdown of Melbourne as a Covid-19 cluster grows to 13, with five new cases reported on Friday.
Premier Daniel Andrews is considering a city-wide shut down which could see five million residents confined to their homes and fans banned from the Australian Open with Aussie superstar Nick Kyrgios due to play at 7pm.
In a 3AW radio interview on Friday morning, the prime minister said a ‘proportionate’ response similar to the three-day lockdown in Brisbane last month is appropriate.
He said Mr Andrews is weighing up a lockdown and will make a statement later.
‘They’re still working through those issues now and assessing all those options,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘The short, sharp, proportionate response that we saw in a couple of other states dealing with similar challenges proved to be quite effective, particularly up there in Brisbane.
Scott Morrison (pictured in Melbourne on Thursday) has backed a short, sharp lockdown of Melbourne as a Covid-19 cluster grows to 13, with five new cases reported on Friday
Premier Daniel Andrews is considering a city-wide shut down which would likely see fans banned from the Australian Open with Aussie superstar Nick Kyrgios (left) due to play at 7pm
‘They got through that, they gave the contact tracers a head-start over the weekend and they were back at it.
‘I think that proportionate, targeted responses are the most effective way to deal with this,’ he added.
Victoria’s latest outbreak began on Monday when a hotel quarantine worker at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport caught the virus from a returned traveller before more guests and workers caught the disease.
Two of the five new infections reported on Friday are husbands of waitresses at the hotel.
Meanwhile, coronavirus fragments have been detected in wastewater in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, leading to fears there may be a flood of new cases in the coming days.
The prime minister said he has not been briefed directly on the situation but Health Minister Greg Hunt is liaising with Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley.
Mr Morrison is in Melbourne to visit the CSL factory where the AstraZeneca vaccine is being made. He plans to leave this afternoon, meaning he will likely avoid any lockdown restrictions.
For most of the pandemic, the prime minister has favoured a relaxed approach to restrictions that avoids city-wide lockdowns and border closures.
He was fiercely critical of Victoria’s four-month winter lockdown and described Mr Andrews’ plan to extend restrictions in September as ‘hard and crushing news for the people of Victoria.’
But his stance changed in January when he backed Brisbane’s three-day shut down after a hotel quarantine cleaner caught a highly infectious new strain of the virus.
Victoria is on the brink of a third lockdown. Pictured: Tennis fans enjoy Day four of the Australian Open, which would have crowds banned if lockdown occurred
Melbourne ‘s worrying Covid cluster has now climbed to 13 cases after five more positive tests linked to the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport (pictured) were recorded on Thursday
He also supported a five-day lockdown of Perth earlier this month over a single case linked to hotel quarantine.
Sources say Mr Morrison has become more in favour of lockdowns because they are popular with voters who are scared of catching the virus and because state premiers will enforce them anyway.
Mr Andrews reportedly held heated crisis talks with health chiefs on Thursday night after five new infections were linked to the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport cluster, bringing the outbreak to 13 cases.
State government advisers were instructed to draw up plans for a third lockdown as early as Friday evening which would spell an end to crowds at the Australian Open.
State government advisers were instructed to draw up plans for a potential lockdown as early as Friday evening – spelling an end to crowds at the Australian Open.
A source within Emergency Management Victoria fears they’ve ‘lost control’ of the outbreak, the Herald Sun reported.
The race to contain the cluster was described as ‘pandemonium’ by the source – and health authorities are said to believe they are losing.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services is reportedly working on the assumption that all of the cases are the ‘mutant’ UK super-strain which is about 70 per cent more contagious than the original form of Covid-19.
Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) went into emergency talks with high-level officials on Thursday
Cleaners wearing full PPE disinfect the Holiday Inn Hotel on February 10, 2021 at Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport
Pictured: Workers in full PPE disinfects the Holiday Inn Hotel Melbourne Airport
There are deep concerns about the failure of the state’s contact tracers to join the dots between the confirmed cases, their close contacts, and the alarming results of the sewage testing.
If a stay-at-home order is given, Mr Andrews is expected to mirror Perth’s recent five-day ‘short sharp’ lockdown.
That was modelled on Melbourne’s Stage Four lockdown where residents were only permitted to outside their homes for work, essential shopping, medical appointments, and an hour of exercise within 5km radius.
Face masks would again be mandated across the state at almost all times.
Though it may only be a five-day lockdown, it will be a bitter pill to swallow for long-suffering Victorians who last year endured one of the world’s strictest.
Melbournians were under stay-at-home orders for 111 days consecutive days from July to November after the virus breached hotel quarantine.
A source within Emergency Management Victoria fears they’ve ‘lost control’ of the outbreak. Pictured: A health worker carries out Covid testing in South Melbourne on February 5
Pictured: Australian Defence Force personnel are seen arriving at the Pullman Hotel on February 11, 2021 in Melbourne
The debacle that saw the virus breach the state’s hotel quarantine program last year was blamed on the inadequate virus control protocols administered by private security staff put in place by the Andrew Government.
This time around the hotel quarantine breach is thought to be the result of an ‘exposure event’.
‘The working hypothesis is three cases are linked to an exposure event that involved a medical device called a nebuliser,’ Chief health officer Brett Sutton said on Wednesday.
‘It vaporises medication or liquid into a very fine mist.
If a stay-at-home order is given Mr Andrews it’s expected to mirror Perth’s recent five-day lockdown where residents are only permitted to outside the house for work, essential shopping, medical appointments and an hour of exercise within 5km radius
It will be a bitter pill to swallow for long-suffering Victorian residents who last year endured one of the world’s strictest lockdowns
‘If that’s breathed in and someone is infectious or later tests positive then that picks up the virus and then that mist can be suspended in the air with very fine aerosolised particles.’
Up to 500 people have been deemed ‘close contacts’ of the 13 confirmed cases.
About 135 of them included quarantine workers at the Holiday Inn and returned travellers.
With the Australian Open in full swing, a lockdown would see the end of crowds at the multi-million-dollar Grand Slam – and could possibly create problems for staff and organisers working at Melbourne Park.
Victorians line up as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 at the Sunbury Respiratory Clinic in Melbourne on February 10
The outbreak within the state’s hotel quarantine program will put Victorians on edge after residents last year endured 111 days under lockdown. Pictured: Residents line up for Covid testing in Melbourne
The race to contain the spiraling cluster was described as ‘pandemonium’ by the source. Pictured: Residents line up for Covid testing in Melbourne
Latest Covid exposure sites:
Melbourne Airport Terminal 4: Brunetti cafe. 04.45am-1.15pm on 9/2/2021
Brighton: North Point Cafe, 2B North Rd. 08.10-09.30 on 31/1/2021. Case dined outside and used bathroom
Brandon Park: Kmart, Brandon Park Shopping Centre, Cnr Springvale Rd and Ferntree Gully Rd. 16.35-17.10 on 31/1/2021. Case attended venue
Clayton South: Nakama Workshop, 85 Main Rd. 11.15-12.00 on 1/2/2021. Case attended venue
Glen Waverley: Commonwealth Bank, 28/32 Kingsway, 1.30pm – 2.15pm on 9.2.2021. Case attended venue
Glen Waverley: HSBC Bank, 38 Kingsway, 2.15pm-3.30pm on 9/2/2021. Case attended venue
Heatherton: Melbourne Golf Academy, 385 Centre Dandenong Rd. 17.19-18.35 on 1/2/2021. Case attended venue
Keysborough: Aces Sporting Club (Driving Range), Cnr Springvale Rd and Hutton Rd. 22.00-23.15 on 30/1/2021. Case attended venue
Keysborough: Kmart, Parkmore Keysborough Shopping Centre, C/317 Cheltenham Rd. 16.00-17.00 on 31/1/2021. Case attended venue
Maidstone: Marciano’s Cakes, 126 Mitchell St. 09.45-10.25, 5/2/2021. Case attended venue
Melbourne: Exford Hotel, 199 Russell St. 23.00-23.35 on 29/1/2021. Case attended bottle shop
Moorabbin Airport: Lululemon, DFO Moorabbin, Shop G-039/250 Centre Dandenong Rd. 17.00-17.45 on 1/2/2021. Case attended venue
Noble Park: Club Noble, 46/56 Moodemere St. 14.36-15.30 on 30/01/2021. Case attended venue
Springvale: Bunnings Springvale, 849 Princes Hwy. 11.30-12.15 on 1/2/2021. Case attended venue
Springvale: Coles Springvale, 825 Dandenong Rd. 17.00-18.00 on 31/1/2021. Case attended venue
Springvale: Sharetea Springvale, 27C Buckingham Ave. 18.50-19.30 on 1/2/2021. Case attended venue
Springvale: Woolworths Springvale, 302 Springvale Rd. 18.30-19.30 on 1/2/2021. Case attended venue
Sunbury: PJ’s Pet Warehouse. 3:37pm – 4:10pm on 5.2.2021. Case attended venue
Sunbury: Bakers Delight at Sunbury Square Shopping Centre. 3:40pm – 4:15pm on 5/2/2021. Case attended venue;
Sunbury: Al Dente Deli at Sunbury Square Shopping Centre. 3:45pm – 4:23pm on 5/2/2021. Case attended venue;
Sunbury: Sushi Sushi at Sunbury Square Shopping Centre. 3:53pm – 4:28pm on 5/2/2021. Case attended venue;
Sunbury: Asian Star at Sunbury Square Shopping Centre: 3:57pm – 4:30pm on 5/2/2021. Case attended venue;
Sunbury: Sunny Life Massage at Sunbury Square Shopping Centre. 4:30pm – 6:30pm on 6/2/2021. Case attended venue;
Sunbury: Cellarbrations 34 Batman Ave. 6:17pm – 7:02pm on 6/2/2021. Case attended venue;
Sunbury: Cellarbrations, 34 Batman Ave. 5:44pm – 6:19pm 7/2/2021. Case attended venue.
Sunshine: Dan Murphy’s, 47 McIntyre Rd. 17.50-18.30 on 5/2/2021. Case attended venue
Sunshine: Dan Murphy’s, 47 McIntyre Rd,18.50-19.30 on 6/2/2021. Case attended venue
Taylors Lakes: Off Ya Tree Watergardens, 399 Melton Highway. 13.00-13.52 on 6/2/2021. Case attended venue
West Melbourne: Kebab Kingz, 438 Spencer St. 23.24-00.15 on 29/1/2021. Case dined outside