Victoria has recorded 57 cases of Covd, its biggest daily total this year, on Melbourne’s 200th day in lockdown since the pandemic started.
The massive spike likely shatters hopes Melbourne’s outbreak will end any time soon and makes a lockdown extension beyond September 2 near-inevitable.
Millions are banned from leaving their homes for all but ‘essential’ reasons, with masks mandatory anywhere outside your house, a 9pm – 5am curfew in place, and even playgrounds roped off.
The only bit of good news in the horror case number is that only three are mystery cases not yet linked to others, and only 10 were infectious in the community.
The cases, double the 24 recorded on Wednesday, were diagnosed from 49,607 tests and 27,581 vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday.
The spike will likely shatter hopes Melbourne’s outbreak is heading in the right direction, with restrictions already extended until at least September 2 and millions living under tough restrictions (pictured, a closed down playground in the city)
A cluster of Covid-19 is being linked to a homeless sex worker. The woman and an acquaintance went to an emergency department, where the woman was tested returning a positive result
The spike coincides with day 13 testing of those in isolation from Al-Taqwa college, which has experienced two outbreaks since the pandemic began.
In a sliver of good news, all students and staff were in isolation while potentially infectious.
But there are also fears the virus is spreading through Melbourne’s homeless population, with hospitals bracing for an influx of patients.
Fifteen recent Covid cases have been linked to the beachside suburb of St Kilda in recent days, six of which are being treated as mystery infections.
They include a sex worker, who tested positive for the virus after presenting at an emergency department.
‘I stress there is no evidence of transmission having occurred because of this person’s sex work occupation,’ Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters on Wednesday.
Victoria is set to record 40 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, recording the states highest tally during their second wave, as lockdown measures struggle to contain the virus
‘But out of caution, we are asking that if you have employed a sex worker in the St Kilda area, you need to come forward and get tested, no matter where you are.’
A close contact of the woman has also tested positive for Covid. It is not known which one of them contracted the virus first.
Several other contacts of the sex worker have been tested, including about 75 per cent of residents at a social housing complex where she lives, and they have returned negative results.
The remaining residents will receive their test results on Wednesday.
Sacred Heart Mission Dining Hall in St Kilda and the Salvation Army in Melbourne have also been listed as tier-two exposure sites, with people who visited during specified time periods required to get tested.
Twelve people with Covid remain in hospital, including a person aged in their 20s and a person aged in their 40s in intensive care (pictured, a quiet Southbank)
Many have slammed the state’s curfew laws, calling measure a cruel over-reach that’s not based on science (pictured, Melbourne under curfew)
Mr Foley said authorities were working with the community health sector to ensure vulnerable Victorians were informed of the situation, while a drive-through and walk-up testing centre has been set up at the Palais Theatre car park.
A cohealth spokeswoman said they have been working tirelessly to vaccinate Victorians experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.
‘The people we’re encountering want to do the right thing, and have been highly compliant with mask-wearing and other health advice,’ she said.
‘People who are without a secure home are acutely aware of how vulnerable they are to contracting Covid.’
Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar urged anyone who lives or works in St Kilda to come forward for testing, regardless of whether they have any symptoms.
The normally busy Chinatown precinct is seen empty in Melbourne (pictured) with the city suffering through its sixth lockdown since the pandemic began
‘We think there is an index case we have not yet detected,’ he said.
Mr Weimar said the St Kilda cases only share geography in common.
‘We have within that cluster accountants, we have architects, we have a sex worker, we have members of the Orthodox Jewish community and a pizza guy,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the state government has launched a new advertising campaign urging people with cold and flu symptoms to get tested for Covid-19.
According to new data, many people still assume cold and flu symptoms are not related to Covid-19 and less than half the number of people who experience such symptoms get tested.
Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar (pictured) urged anyone who lives or works in St Kilda to come forward for testing, regardless of whether they have any symptoms
Of the 246 active cases of Covid in Victoria, 56 are aged nine or under and 55 are aged between 10 and 19.
Twelve people with Covid remain in hospital, including a person aged in their 20s and a person aged in their 40s in intensive care.
Melbourne is 14 days into its sixth lockdown, which was extended on Monday until September 2.
There are now fears a new string of cases could further extend lockdown.
‘It is a very broad and disparate range of people,’ Mr Weimar said.
‘We are exceptionally concerned about what we don’t yet know in that area.
‘There are clearly a number of chains of transmissions that we don’t yet have full pictures of.’
Anyone in the suburbs of Bayside, Glen Eira or Port Phillips especially were asked to get tested if they show even the slightest symptoms (pictured, a quiet Luna Park at St Kilda on Wednesday)
Curfews were originally introduced during Victoria’s disastrous second wave that saw Melbourne under lockdown or 111 consecutive days with more than 700 cases a day when the outbreak was at its worst (pictured, a Melburnian on Wednesday)
Premier Daniel Andrews has begged more Victorians to come forward and get tested to help the state out of the current crisis ‘in the short term’.
Anyone in the suburbs of Bayside, Glen Eira or Port Phillips especially were asked to get tested if they show even the slightest symptoms, he said.
‘Nothing is more important than people who’ve registered any symptoms at all coming forward and getting tested,’ he said.
Melburnians in the midst of their sixth Covid lockdown are facing even harsher restrictions with the return of the controversial curfew laws, despite virus experts and even the police union speaking out against the move.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday announced the city’s stay-at-home orders would be extended until at least September 2, with a 9pm to 5am curfew now in effect across Melbourne as well as a range of other draconian measures.
The Victorian Government announced on Monday it would extend its lockdown until September 2 and introduce a 9pm to 5am curfew in Melbourne – despite no evidence it stops the virus spreading (pictured, an eerily quiet Bourke Street Mall)
Playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks and exercise equipment are closed, and residents are no longer be able to remove their masks in order to drink alcohol outside.
Schools are shut, constructions sites forced to cut down on workers and all in-person gatherings will be banned.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton insisted the tough new measures are necessary to curb the spread of the Delta variant.
Despite the desperate times, many have slammed the state’s curfew laws, calling the measure an over-reach that’s not based on science.
The state’s Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said the curfew was brought in by government and was not something recommended by the police force whose resources are stretched ‘paper thin’.
Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said police never asked for a curfew and he was only told a ‘couple of hours’ before it began (pictured, a Melbourne testing centre at St Kilda on Wednesday)
‘It was contentious the first time around and I’ll be very, very clear – it wasn’t asked for by police last time around and to the best of my knowledge, it hasn’t been asked for by our members this time,’ he told 3AW radio.
‘We don’t think the curfew is necessary and our members didn’t really see great value in it (last time) to be quite honest.
‘If they turn something like that on again… it will be the police that are asked to enforce it and we are stretched paper thin.’
Jodie McVernon, the director of epidemiology at Melbourne’s Doherty Institute, also spoke out against Melbourne’s curfew, doubting it would help curtail the virus.
‘Personally, I’m not aware of any evidence that proves that curfews per se are particularly efficacious,’ she told ABC Radio.
Despite the desperate times, many have slammed the state’s curfew laws, calling the measure an over-reach that’s not based on science (pictured, police patrol Melbourne)
‘Clearly we need the public to co-operate with these measures if they’re to be effective.’
Curfews were originally introduced during Victoria’s disastrous second wave that saw Melbourne under lockdown or 111 consecutive days with more than 700 cases a day when the outbreak was at its worst.
It was brought in an effort to reduce movement and keep people in their homes for more of the day – before the government conceded it was more about police control.
The rule caused uproar after Dr Sutton denied it was based on his medical advice.
Mr Andrews eventually admitted the curfew was imposed solely because it would make enforcing the lockdown easier for police.
Playgrounds have also controversially been shut under the ultra-strict lockdown (pictured, an empty Melbourne play area)
‘The rules were ultimately made by me,’ Mr Andrews said at the time.
‘It’s not a matter for Brett [Sutton], that’s not health advice, that’s about achieving a health outcome.
‘His advice is ‘do whatever you can to limit movement’. Police then say ‘we need rules we can enforce’.’
But Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said police never asked for a curfew and he was only told a ‘couple of hours’ before it began.
‘I was never consulted,’ he said of Mr Andrews’ claim. ‘We had never asked for a curfew. It’s not a decision that I was involved in.’
MELBOURNE EXPOSURE SITES ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY NIGHT
Prahran: Domino’s Pizza Prahran, 15/08/2021 10:00am – 3:40pm
Public Transport: Tram Route 96- Stop 132 St Kilda Station to Stop 138 Luna Park, 15/08/2021 1:40pm – 1:47pm
Public Transport: Tram Route 96- Stop 132 St Kilda Station to Stop 138 Luna Park, 15/08/2021 1:51pm – 1:55pm
Ascot Vale: Woolworths – Ascot Vale, 16/08/2021 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Kensington: Newmarket Plaza and Woolworths, 17/08/2021 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Flemington: Chemist Warehouse – Newmarket Plaza, 17/08/2021 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Moonee Ponds: Chemist Warehouse, 17/08/2021 10:45am – 11:45am
Springvale: IKEA, 15/08/2021 4:10pm – 4:35pm
Dandenong South: Woolworths, 15/08/2021 2:45pm – 3:15pm
Altona North: Carl’s Jr. Drive Through, 14/08/2021 1:45pm – 2:30pm
Ascot Vale: 11 Wingate Avenue Apartment Complex, 14/08/2021, 15/08/, 16/08, 17/08, 18/08 12:00am – 11:59pm
Brunswick: Barkly Square, 15/08/2021 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Altona North: Woolworths, 13/08/2021 6:30pm – 8:15pm
Melbourne: Bank of Melbourne Branch – 233 Collins Street, 16/08/2021 4:00pm – 4:20pm
Coburg: Old School Pizza & Stonegrill, 15/08/2021 5:00pm – 10:30pm
Carrum Downs: Oakwood Drive Reserve, 12/08/2021 1:30pm – 3:00pm, 14/08 2pm – 3.30pm, 11/08 2pm – 3.30pm
Carrum Downs: Wedge Road Oval, 12/08/2021 10:00am – 11:30am, 14/08 1pm – 2.30pm
Hadfield: Smartline Dry Cleaners, 14/08/2021 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Broadmeadows: Jack Roper Reserve Playground, 14/08/2021 3:00pm – 5:30pm
Coburg North: Cammaroto Poultry PTY Ltd, 12/08/2021 3:15pm – 3:50pm
Broadmeadows: Lahinch Street Playground, 16/08/2021 3:35pm – 4:30pm
Coburg North, Coburg Lake – De Chene Parade Entrance, 15/08/2021 2:40pm – 4:45pm
West Melbourne: Biryani House, 11/08/2021 4:10pm – 4:40pm