Victorians are bracing themselves for an extended lockdown despite the state recording just six new Covid cases on Wednesday, amid mounting pressure on the NSW Government to close its border.
Victoria recorded six new locally acquired cases on Wednesday from 51,033 tests, prompting fears lockdown will remain in place until at least early next week.
Policymakers and health officials held late-night crisis talks on Tuesday, after yet another aged-care facility was forced into quarantine.
Across the border, NSW Health issued an urgent alert warning after a confirmed case of Covid-19 from Melbourne was in Jervis Bay, Goulburn, Hyams Beach and Vincentia while potentially infectious on May 23 and 24.
The infected interstate traveller reported the onset of symptoms on May 25 and was only tested on Monday, almost a week after their 1,765km roadtrip.
The Covid case left for their trip just days before Victoria’s stay-at-home measures took effect on May 27.
Victoria’s snap seven day stay-at-home orders could be extended for another two weeks, as Dan Andrews’ cabinet debates whether to keep the state on lockdown until after the June 14 long weekend
The confirmed case was in Jervis Bay, Goulburn, Hyams Beach and Vincentia while potentially infectious on May 23 and 24
NSW VENUES EXPOSED TO COVID
– Goulburn – Shell Coles Express Big Merino, 1/3 Sowerby Street: Monday 24 May, 10-11.30am.
– Goulburn – Trapper’s Bakery, 4 Sowerby Street: Monday 24 May 10.30-11.30am.
– Hyams Beach – Cooked Goose Café (formerly Hyams Beach Café), 76 Cyrus Street: Sunday 23 May, 10am-12pm.
– Jervis Bay – Green Patch campground, Booderee National Park, Village Bay Road: Sunday 23 May all day, Monday 24 May until 9am.
– Vincentia – Coles Vincentia Shopping Village, 21 The Wool Road: Sunday 23 May, 12-1pm.
If you were at any of the following venues of concern at the times listed, please immediately call the NSW Health contact tracing team on 1800 943 553, get tested and isolate until you receive further information from NSW Health.
Pressure is now mounting on Gladys Berejiklian to toughen restrictions as fears of another NSW outbreak grows.
The premier has been reticent to introduce border closures or lockdowns similar restrictions to Victoria and other states, but some on social media are calling for the state to lock out Victorians.
‘Gladys stated she didn’t need to close the border to Victoria while every other state and territory did. So here we are,’ one Twitter user posted.
‘This is the highly contagious Indian variant. Will she act promptly or will she let it run wild because it will.’
Another wrote: ‘If this spreads in NSW will it be Gladys’ stuff up? Will she get the blame?’
‘This is exactly why you’re and idiot for not closing the NSW border!’ a third wrote.
‘Why are you intent on not protecting your residents? Are you only gong to learn once NSW has a massive outbreak like VIC?’
Policymakers and health officials held late-night crisis talks on Tuesday, after nine new infections were reported in Victoria and yet another aged-care facility was forced into quarantine
Although the Gladys Berejiklian’s government has been reticent to introduce border closures or lockdowns, there are now fears the state may be forced to impose similar restrictions to Victoria
NSW Health revealed the roadtripper began their journey on May 23 first stopped off at Cooked Goose Café in picturesque Hyams Beach at 10am to 12pm after a long drive.
They then drove a little farther to Coles in Vincentia at 12pm to 1pm to get supplies for their overnight camping trip.
Next they pitched a tent at Green Patch campground in Booderee National Park on Jervis Bay and stayed there until about 9am on May 24.
On the way home to Melbourne they stopped at Shell Coles Express in the shadow of the Big Merino in Goulburn sometimes between 10.30am and 11.30am.
Across the road they munched on some tasty pies from the legendary Trapper’s Bakery between 10.30am and 11.30am, before driving home.
The famous Big Merino in Goulburn was listed as one of the sites that was exposed to the virus
Anyone who visited the Shell Coles Express Big Merino, at Goulburn on Monday May 24 between 10-11.30am is urged to self-isolate and get tested immediately
Anyone who visited Trapper’s Bakery on Monday May 24 between 10:30-11.30am is urged to self-isolate and get tested immediately
About 6.5 million Victorians were ordered into lockdown at 11.59pm last Thursday after a rapidly-spreading Covid-19 outbreak in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
The cluster, which has been linked to a highly infectious double mutant Indian strain, grew to 54 cases on Tuesday, including nine new locally-acquired infections.
Health authorities remain on edge after it was revealed that complete strangers had been infected by walking past Covid-positive cases.
Victoria’s Department of Health said ‘four or five’ cases emerged from ‘brushing past’ strangers who unwittingly transmitted the virus.
The lockdown is Victoria’s fourth in 14 months, as the list of exposure sites has now swelled to hundreds of venues.
Under the stay-at-home orders, Victorians can only leave their homes for five essential reasons with restaurant dining and public gatherings among many banned activities.
An official announcement has not been made about extending the lockdown, but sources said it was likely to remain in place.
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino, speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, 31 May
Officials were pleased to find no more cases of Covid-19 in aged care settings on Tuesday (pictured, staff are swabbed for the virus at the Royal Freemasons Coppin Centre facility)
One of the scenarios being discussed is to extend the shutdown until after the Queen’s Birthday long weekend which concludes on June 14, The Australian reported.
But with the draconian lockdown measures costing the state about $125million a day, according to KPMG modelling, and no JobKeeper subsidies in place, it remains unclear as to how vulnerable Victorians forced out of work will be supported.
A final decision is expected to be announced by the state government on Wednesday.
The difficult news for long-suffering Victorians comes as yet another aged care home has been forced into lockdown on Tuesday after fears the facility had been exposed to the virus.
Last year in the midst of Victoria’s brutal 112 consecutive-day, the vast majority of the state’s 900 Covid-related death were in aged care settings.
Menarock Life Aged Care facility in Heathmont, Melbourne’s east, sent an email warning staff that one of its workers had been identified as a primary contact of a Covid-positive case.
Healthcare workers arrive to the Arcare Aged Care facility in Maidstone, Melbourne, Victoria, on June 1 after a Covid case was reported
A healthcare worker walks along a line of cars lined up at the Albert Park COVID-19 testing facility in Melbourne, Australia, May 27
Residential manager Nellie Wang said ‘I understand how stressful it can be, but I assure you we are doing everything possible to minimise any effect on our close-knit community’.
‘I have been advised by the Victorian department of health Greenway Gardens should enter a full lockdown of the entire facility immediately.
‘All residents (are) required to be isolated in their rooms until further notice.
Any staff who worked at the facility on May 31 between 7am to 3pm is now required to get tested immediately and self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.
Victoria’s Covid-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar told reporters earlier today the outbreak is the fastest moving seen anywhere in Australia during the pandemic.
‘What we’re seeing now is people are brushing past each other in a small shop, they are going to a display home, they are looking at photos in a Telstra shop,’ he said.
‘This is relatively speaking, relatively fleeting. They do not know each other’s names, and that is very different from what we have been before.
‘We are used to, with previous variants, transmission occurring in the home, in the workplace, where people know each other already, not all of those big social settings. These are quite different.’
Victorians have been warned the virus is passing between strangers in fleeting moments in small spaces such as shops (pictured, commuters at Flinders Street Station)
Authorities have refused to rule out extending the state’s seven day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown as the list of exposure sites swelled to 329 venues (pictured, commuters in Melbourne)
The outbreak, which originated in hotel quarantine in South Australia last month, is ‘playing out a bit differently to earlier recent outbreaks’ in Victoria, which resulted in few cases and three-day circuit breaker lockdowns.
Despite the concerns, Health Minister Martin Foley said contact tracers will be able to ‘get on top’ of the outbreak.
‘I am confident that we are doing everything we possibly can to get on top of this and I’m confident that all of us as Victorians are out there willing this thing to be over and willing us all to get on top of it and by behaving in the right way,’ he said.
NSW Health said they are continuing to investigate the movements of the interstate traveller in and around the Jervis Bay – and the department expects the list of venues to grow very soon.
On Wednesday morning, NSW will announce a number of new Covid-testing facilities in the exposed areas.
‘NSW Health is in the process of increasing testing capacity in the area, including a drive-through pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic in Huskisson,’ the department said.
Authorities are concerned Victoria’s new outbreak is spreading though complete strangers (pictured, healthcare workers at Arcare Aged Care facility on Tuesday)
NEW STAGE THREE RESTRICTIONS IN VICTORIA
An emergency seven-day lockdown began at 00.01 Friday.
Under the strict new rules to stop Melbourne’s coronavirus cluster from getting out of control, there are a number of restrictions:
Stay-at-home order with just five reasons to leave the house:
– Shopping for necessary goods and services
– Going to work or permitted education
– Exercise with a two-hour limit
– Medical reasons and care giving
– Getting vaccinated
As well as this, there will be serious restrictions on people’s personal life, business, work and school:
– No visitors to your home other than an intimate partner. Single bubbles will be permitted. If you live alone, you can make a bubble with another person.
– 5km travel limit for exercise and shopping
– Compulsory masks indoors and outdoors unless in the home
– No public gatherings.
– Restaurants, pubs, and cafes can provide takeaway only.
– Essential retail, so supermarkets, food stores, petrol stations, banks, bottle shops and pharmacies, other retail stores can provide click and collect.
– Childcare and kinders will be open as per the last circuit breaker lockdown earlier this year.
– Approved professional sporting events will proceed but proceed without crowds.
– Schools will move to remote learning, except for vulnerable children, and children of authorised workers.
– Higher education will move to remote learning only.
– Community support and recreation, accommodation, but there will be some exemptions that apply.
– Hotels, clubs, TABs and the casino will be closed.
– Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, swimming pools, spas, saunas, indoor and outdoor springs, community venues, drive in cinemas, amusements parks and arcades, creative studios, art galleries and museums, tourism, tours, and transport, and auctions can only happen online.
– Aged care facilities, no visitors except for limited reasons.
– In our hospitals, visitors only for end of life, to support a partner during birth, or a parent accompanying a child.
– In terms of ceremonies, funerals, a maximum of 10 people plus those running the service.
– Weddings cannot proceed unless end of life or deportation reasons apply.
– Religious activities will not proceed other than through broadcast with a maximum of five people.