Holiday Inn COVID-19 cluster grows to 22 cases as child, both parents test positive19th February 2021
“All have been quarantining at home during their infectious periods,” he said.
Victorian COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said the number of primary close contacts related to the Holiday Inn outbreak had now topped 3500.
“We currently have for the Holiday Inn outbreak a total of 3515 primary close contacts,” he said.
However, Mr Weimar said health authorities had cleared around 500 people associated with the Grand Hyatt outbreak.
“We had a total of 1507 primary contacts associated with the Grand Hyatt outbreak, we now have around 942 left.
“We contacted around 350 people yesterday to stand them down.”
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said close contacts needed to remain vigilant.
“But this isn’t over yet – all known contacts of cases or exposure sites need to stay in quarantine for the full 14 days to wrap this up,” Professor Sutton said via Twitter.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said Victorian authorities were working to make sure all contacts of the three new cases were traced.
“Obviously the Victorian authorities will be acting very swiftly to make sure that all the contacts of these people have been followed up and are also in isolation and arranging to get tested,” Professor Kidd told ABC radio on Friday morning.
No new cases were reported in hotel quarantine on Friday.
Mr Weimar urged people in several Melbourne suburbs to be on the lookout for symptoms after several “unexpected wastewater detections” were picked up across surveillance sites.
“Those locations are Wantirna South and Boronia, which includes Bayswater, Ferntree Gully, Knoxfield and Tremont; Carrum Downs and Langwarrin, including Skye; and St Kilda East and Caulfield North, including parts of Caulfield, Balaclava and Elsternwick,” Mr Weimar said.
“We’ve been talking about over a number of weeks now we’ve again stepped up the granularity of our wastewater sampling across the metropolitan area.
“Although we have no obvious connections between the new locations that are flagged up and any known positive cases, we are therefore asking people in a couple of areas to be prepared and be vigilant for any potential symptoms they may have.”
Mr Weimar said that although the detections were unexpected, he was not “excessively worried”.
“If you’re in those catchment areas, and feel you have any reason to be concerned about any symptoms you might be showing, no matter how slight, we really would ask you to come and get tested today,” Mr Weimar said.
“We see these detections coming up. At this point in time, it’s an isolated set of detections, so we’re not excessively worried.”
COVID-19 vaccination plan
Front-line coronavirus workers who are most likely to come into contact with the virus are first in line to be vaccinated under the federal COVID-19 vaccination plan.
Trained health professionals will administer doses of the Pfizer vaccine to hotel quarantine and health hotel workers, airport and port workers, high-risk frontline health staff and public sector residential aged care staff and residents from Monday.
Mr Foley said the state government’s priority is supporting the Commonwealth project to ensure the vaccine is deployed “as quickly and safely possible”.
“Whether they work in hotel quarantine, at the airport, or a specialist COVID ward – we need to keep Victorians most at risk of infection safe, while they continue to keep Victorians safe.”
Following the arrival of the vaccine, “health hubs” will deliver the jabs at dedicated sites throughout the state, including hospitals and quarantine hotels. There will also be a site at Melbourne Airport and mobile outreach teams.
Moomba cancellation may be reversed
Meanwhile, the state government is in talks with the City of Melbourne to reverse the council’s decision to cancel the Moomba festival.
Major Events Minister Martin Pakula said he had expressed his “disappointment” to lord mayor Sally Capp and said he “got the sense” council would change course.
Council made the call to not go ahead with this year’s festival despite the Chief Health Officer having approved a COVID-safe plan for the yearly event, Mr Pakula said.
He said the proposed plan involved a ticketed system and geographical zones to reduce congestion.
“It would be thousands of people rather than hundreds of thousands,” Mr Pakula said.
“A scaled-back event … can still be a great event.
“I hope they’ll reconsider … I’ve made that clear to the lord mayor.”
Front-line COVID-19 staff went unpaid for weeks
The Department of Health has admitted that front-line COVID-19 staff were not paid in the weeks leading up to the latest lockdown.
The department said the pay issue arose after the recruitment of an additional 204 employees to respond to the border permit exemptions and increased call volumes associated with the NSW and Queensland border closures.
“When the Department of Health became aware that a number of staff working in the border permit team had not received payment, they acted quickly and arranged for off-line payments to be made to the majority of staff,” a spokesman said.
The department said the issue in no way impacted the state’s response to the pandemic.
Whitten Oval could become COVID vaccination hub
Whitten Oval has been touted as a possible location for Melbourne’s first mass coronavirus vaccination hub under a proposal that would see the sporting stadium in the city’s west host thousands of Victorians for immunisation.
Medical groups recently visited the West Footscray oval, home to AFL club the Western Bulldogs, finding it had optimum air flow and was close to health services, making it an ideal location for a vaccination centre.
Mukesh Haikerwal from the Australian Medical Association, who is leading discussions about setting up the hub, estimated the stadium could allow for about 450 people to be vaccinated per hour.
His highly successful coronavirus respiratory clinic in Altona North, also in the western suburbs, is soon being converted into a vaccine clinic with a plan to vaccinate 16 people per hour.
with Rachel Clun, Melissa Cunningham
Start your day informed
Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
David Estcourt is a court and general news reporter at The Age.
Paul is a Victorian political reporter for The Age.