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Stay away from Melbourne: NSW health issues stern warning to travellers after a COVID-19 spike

Australians have been warned to avoid travelling to parts of Melbourne as Victoria continues to suffer an unexpected spike in COVID-19 cases.

Victoria recorded another 16 new cases on Monday, prompting New South Wales health officials to warn against all travel to parts of the state.

Over the weekend, 44 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in the state, after Australia enjoyed weeks of single digit transmissions. 

Officials have since said residents should avoid all travel to affected areas in Victoria – and said even metropolitan Melbourne was high risk.

‘NSW Health strongly discourages travel to and from areas of Victoria with COVID-19 outbreaks until control of community transmission has been confirmed,’ it said in a statement on Monday morning.

Victorians are seen wearing face masks as they leave Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station on Sunday (pictured) as cases grow across Victoria

‘There are also locally acquired cases of COVID-19 reported from other areas of metropolitan Melbourne.

‘So we urge anyone who is planning to visit Victoria to keep up to date with NSW Health and Victorian Health travel advisories.’

Victoria and NSW are the only two states not to bring in any border restrictions during the pandemic, with this new outbreak threatening others opening up.  

The areas with a known spike in cases are Hume, Caseyand Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin, but the public are being urged to be cautious across the state.

Testing done on Monday showed 16 new cases of coronavirus in Victoria, including a toddler. 

Australians have been warned to stay away from six council in Melbourne: Hume, Casey and Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin

Australians have been warned to stay away from six council in Melbourne: Hume, Casey and Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin

Cleaners are seen at The Hangar in Melbourne on June 21 (pictured) but the AFL match was postponed after a player contracted coronavirus

Cleaners are seen at The Hangar in Melbourne on June 21 (pictured) but the AFL match was postponed after a player contracted coronavirus

Victoria has been planning on easing several restrictions on Monday, but this was stopped due to the sudden spike in cases. 

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos confirmed there were 1,847 cases in the state after five were removed due to duplication, making it a net increase of 11 cases on Monday.

The state’s COVID-19 case numbers are now the highest they’ve been in more than two months after six days of double-digit growth.

‘Of the 16 new cases, six are linked to known outbreaks, four are detected in hotel quarantine, five have been detected through routine testing, and one is under investigation,’ Ms Mikakos said.

‘We currently have nine patients in hospital, including two in intensive care.’

Melbourne is now on high alert after a spike in coronavirus cases following weeks of single digit transmissions (pictured, Flinders Street Station on Sunday)

Melbourne is now on high alert after a spike in coronavirus cases following weeks of single digit transmissions (pictured, Flinders Street Station on Sunday)

The new cases are made up of six linked to outbreaks, five cases identified through routine testing, four cases detected in returned travellers in hotel quarantine and one case under investigation.

The Stamford Plaza hotel outbreak has increased to 14 with two contractors also testing positive.

Two cases have been linked to Albanvale Primary School in Caroline Springs, taking that outbreak to three, with two teachers infected.

A further two cases have been linked to H&M Northland, taking the total to four.

One new case is a household contact of a staff member who tested positive on Friday, the other new case is a worker who did not work at the store while infectious, although did attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Melbourne on June 6.

A woman in a face mask is seen walking past St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne on Sunday (pictured) as coronavirus cases rise across the city

A woman in a face mask is seen walking past St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne on Sunday (pictured) as coronavirus cases rise across the city

It is not thought they acquired the infection from the protest.

The H&M store has undergone a deep clean and contact tracing is continuing.

A child who goes to Great Beginnings Reservoir went to the childcare centre while infectious, so it has been closed for cleaning and contact tracing.

Australia’s chief health authority, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), issued a statement on Sunday to discourage any travel to the areas until the spread had been controlled.

‘It is critical that we are able to continue to control transmission,’ the committee said.   

There were 116 cases reported in Victoria last week, making up 83 per cent of all new infections, the committee said.

Melbourne schools shut due to coronavirus

Camberwell Grammar School, Canterbury – student

Albanvale Primary School, Albanvale – teacher 

Springside Primary School, Caroline Springs – teacher

St Mary’s Primary School, Hampton – student 

St Monica’s College, Epping – teacher

Keilor Downs Secondary College, Keilor Downs – student

Of those, 87 cases were from community transmission.   

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was forced to reimpose tough restrictions within his state after 25 new cases were recorded on Saturday.

‘Don’t visit friends and family. Don’t go on holiday. Don’t go to work. Stay home,’ the premier said.

Victoria’s State of Emergency has been extended until 11.59pm on July 19. 

From midnight on Sunday to July 12, Victorians will only be able to have five people at their homes while outdoor gatherings have been reduced from 20 down to 10.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs were to be allowed up to 50 patrons from Monday, but that will now have to remain at 20 until July 12. 

The 20-person limit is the rule for real estate auctions, open houses and community areas will also continue to be limited to just 20 people. 

Religious gatherings cannot be larger than 20 people plus those in charge of the ceremony.  

Gyms are set to open and community sport to begin again, giving some relief, but indoor sports will again have limits of 20 people at a time, and ten people per activity.  

People shop at the Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, on April 11 (pictured) Experts fear Victoria is teetering on the brink of a second wave

People shop at the Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, on April 11 (pictured) Experts fear Victoria is teetering on the brink of a second wave

Face masks reduce viral spread when used with social distancing and Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he was open to making wearing a mask in public mandatory. 

‘I remain open to the idea. I think we have to bear in mind that we will do whatever is required that might help to turn things around in Victoria, because we need to get to a point where we are driving numbers back down to zero,’ he told the Herald Sun.

‘I’ll raise the issue with my AHPPC colleagues, I’m on the phone to them shortly, and I will raise it as a consideration for Victoria.’ 

Medical research published in The Lancet earlier this month found face masks can reduce the risk of transmission by up to 77 percent.

New antiviral drug breakthrough 

Australian researchers have reportedly made a global breakthrough on a new antiviral drug they believe can protect against COVID-19 infection.

Monash University researchers have conducted modelling of the drug to show it has significant blocking ability against the virus that causes COVID-19, The Australian has reported.

Researchers hope the drug, which could be administered by an inhaler, might be available as early as the end of the year.

Monash University senior research fellow Tom Karagiannis said he and his team had tested the way a designer molecule called a-ketoamide blocks one of the proteins needed to replicate the virus that causes COVID-19.

Last month German researchers published new data on an improved version of a-ketomides they said work more effectively in humans.

Dr Karagiannis and his colleagues used a supercomputer to study the way the improved version blocks the triggering of the replication of the virus that causes COVID-19 and found it acts as a handbrake on the virus’s ability to replicate.

‘This molecule stops the virus from replicating, which can then stop the release of new virus particles and infection of other cells in the body,’ Dr Karagiannis told The Australian. 

Monash University senior research fellow Tom Karagiannis (pictured left) has made a research breakthrough into an anti-viral drug that blocks coronavirus from replicating

Monash University senior research fellow Tom Karagiannis (pictured left) has made a research breakthrough into an anti-viral drug that blocks coronavirus from replicating

‘When you are out and about, you cannot tell who is infected and who is not,’ said Professor Raina Macintyre, the head of the biosecurity research program at the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute.

‘You yourself may be infected and not know it. Especially with the growing evidence of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, universal face mask use is an important way to reduce the spread of infection. 

In Victoria, the six new coronavirus no-go zones are scattered across Melbourne’s west, north and southeastern suburbs.

The Brimbank council area contains Keilor Downs, the suburb where 11 people across nine households have been infected.

A Year 10 student spent two days at the local Keilor Downs Secondary College while infected, prompting the school’s closure.

One of the outbreaks is 12 contractors who worked at the Stamford Plaza hotel (pictured) in Melbourne, with three new cases on Sunday

One of the outbreaks is 12 contractors who worked at the Stamford Plaza hotel (pictured) in Melbourne, with three new cases on Sunday

Victoria’s coronavirus spike threatens to delay three Australian states from reopening their borders

The spike in Victorian cases has made health authorities in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia wary of reopening their borders.

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said a powerful second wave of coronavirus could be devastating for Queenslanders.

‘It will be so much harder on businesses in the long run if we can’t stick to our recovery plans because of further outbreaks,’ he told The Sunday Mail. 

‘Queenslanders have done a good job, making many sacrifices, to keep our communities safe.

‘This is a reminder that this pandemic is not over for us yet and we cannot afford to become complacent.’

Three Australian states are wary of opening their borders after Victoria had a spike in coronavirus cases on Saturday. Pictured: signage on the Queensland and NSW border in April

Three Australian states are wary of opening their borders after Victoria had a spike in coronavirus cases on Saturday. Pictured: signage on the Queensland and NSW border in April

Western Australia’s government has maintained its hardline border closure will remain for as long as there is sustained community spread of the virus in the eastern states.

Premier Mark McGowan has refused to put a date on welcoming interstate visitors and is likely to further ease restrictions within WA before opening the border.

South Australia is due to reopen on July 20 but its government is closely monitoring the situation in Victoria and has not ruled out staying closed.

‘We will not open our borders to Victoria unless it is safe to do so,’ Health Minister Stephen Wade said on Saturday.

Five other schools have had to close after coronavirus infections were revealed over the weekend.

A new case was found linked to a family in Coburg bringing that cluster to 14, Victoria’s Health Department said on Sunday.

One case has been confirmed in a Grill’d Highpoint restaurant worker who did one shift while infectious last week. 

The restaurant is closed for a deep clean. 

Three cases were found linked to the Stamford Plaza Hotel bringing that outbreak to 12.

Aged care facility Lifeview Willow Wood, Cranbourne, was visited by an outbreak team while the Royal Freemasons Springtime in Sydenham is closed.

No visitors are allowed at aged care facilities during lockdown. 

Black Lives Matter protesters rally in Melbourne's CBD on June 6 (pictured) with three cases linked to it so far

Black Lives Matter protesters rally in Melbourne’s CBD on June 6 (pictured) with three cases linked to it so far

St Monica's College, Epping, Melbourne will close until the start of next term, using online learning to teach students after a teacher tested positive. Six schools in total have new cases

St Monica’s College, Epping, Melbourne will close until the start of next term, using online learning to teach students after a teacher tested positive. Six schools in total have new cases

Victorian AFL player tests positive

Essendon player Conor McKenna spent 14 days in quarantine and tested negative for the virus five times before eventually testing positive.

He was planned to make a return for the Bombers at a game against Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday, but that match has been postponed even though his teammates have tested negative. 

McKenna is asymptomatic and is said to be doing well.

Though the Saturday match has been postponed, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan reassured fans that all others will proceed. 

All of the players and football department staff at the Essendon club will be asked to self-isolate until the health department has finished their investigation.

Essendon Football Club's Conor McKenna has tested positive for the coronavirus. He recently returned to Australia from Ireland

Essendon Football Club’s Conor McKenna has tested positive for the coronavirus. He recently returned to Australia from Ireland 

Victoria’s Police Minister Lisa Neville said police would patrol the coronavirus hotspots to make sure the public keep to social distancing regulations. 

They will also be doorknocking to check that quarantines are obeyed. 

‘This is not the time to be complacent, this is the time to remind ourselves that we all have a role to play in stopping this virus in the community,’ she said. 

Ms Neville warned against protests after thousands marched the streets in Black Lives Matter protests earlier this month despite the pandemic, saying that cannot happen again now that public gatherings are again restricted to 10 people.

‘Everyone said that [the Black Lives Matter] protest shouldn’t happen and people shouldn’t go – it was against the Chief Health Officers orders and directives,’ she said 

Victoria has diagnosed another surge in coronavirus infections as family and work clusters expand and derail plans of Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) to reopen the state

Victoria has diagnosed another surge in coronavirus infections as family and work clusters expand and derail plans of Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) to reopen the state

‘So people, please stay home and find different ways to protest, to get your issues out while we go through this.’

The Grattan Institute think tank has released a report showing the risk of new infections increases as shops, schools and workplaces reopen, particularly if people ignore social distancing rules. 

The report says workplaces should be reopened slowly, with as many people working from home as possible to limit opportunities for the virus to spread.

The institute also backs mandatory quarantining for international arrivals, saying it must remain in place.

The think tank’s health program director Stephen Duckett says the transition to a new normal won’t have an end date until a vaccine or treatment is found.

‘It’s dangerous for people to think this fight is over,’ Dr Duckett said.

A healthcare worker tests for coronavirus at a drive-through coronavirus test station at Keilor in Melbourne on May 31 (pictured)

A healthcare worker tests for coronavirus at a drive-through coronavirus test station at Keilor in Melbourne on May 31 (pictured)

‘The nature of the virus hasn’t changed – our behaviour has.

‘If Australians go back to a pre-COVID normal, the virus could spread quickly and wildly, like it has elsewhere.’

The report also recommends closing schools when a case arises, which is the policy being followed by authorities.

The institute says telehealth should become a permanent part of the healthcare system although in a way that doesn’t impede continuity of care.

Dr Duckett notes there will be a further surge in demand for mental health services after the pandemic, so technological solutions should be considered to help the overloaded system.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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