Masks off, footy crowds of up to 75 per cent in Victoria

Original article by Shannon Deery
Herald Sun – Page: 1 & 8 : 7-Jul-21

Senior Victorian government sources have confirmed that the state’s COVID-19 restrictions will be further eased in coming days. Amongst other things, office-based staff will no longer be required to wear a face mask at work, although masks will still be necessary in indoor settings such as public transport. Bill Lang of Small Business Australia has welcomed the move, saying that getting people to return to the Melbourne CBD is vital to the survival of hospitality and retail businesses in the city. The government is also expected to increase crowd numbers at football matches to 75 per cent of the venue’s capacity, and 50 per cent for live theatre. Victoria has recorded a sixth consecutive day with no locally-acquired COVID-19 cases.


Less than $20m for lockdown payments

Original article by Patrick Commins
The Australian – Page: 5 : 17-Jun-21

Data from Services Australia shows that 42,784 in Victoria received the federal government’s Temporary COVID Disaster Payment during the second week of the state’s latest lockdown. The temporary scheme, which provides a grant of up $500 for people who lose income due to a lockdown of at least seven days, has cost $19,684,000 since Melbourne entered the second week of the lockdown that ended on 10 June. This is significantly less than Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had forecast when the scheme was announced. Melbourne residents must submit applications for the grant by 2 July.


‘Victoria is a powder keg’: Experts fear virus still circulating as testing rate drops

Original article by Melissa Cunningham
The Age – Page: Online : 17-Jun-21

Victoria has reported five new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, although two had previously been disclosed and they are all linked to existing clusters. Meanwhile, infectious diseases experts believe that there are undetected cases of COVID-19 in the community and the risk of such transmission will increase as COVID-19 restrictions are eased. The state government has confirmed that some restrictions will be relaxed from 11.59pm on 17 June. Amongst other things, Melburnians will be permitted to visit regional areas and face masks will no longer be compulsory outdoors unless social distancing is not possible.


New Victorian hotel quarantine failure

Original article by Mitch Clarke
Herald Sun – Page: 5 : 9-Jun-21

Genomic sequencing has confirmed that the outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in west Melbourne has been traced to a returned traveller who arrived from Sri Lanka on 8 May and tested positive for the virus on the same day. The man in his 40s was released from hotel quarantine on 23 May, and health authorities are trying to determine how the virus was passed on the west Melbourne family of four who subsequently holidayed in New South Wales. Acting Premier James Merlino says the latest breach of the state’s hotel quarantine program will not affect the schedule for ending Melbourne’s lockdown. There have now been eight hotel quarantine leaks in Victoria since the pandemic began.


Melbourne lockdown set to end, but travel restricted

Original article by Shannon Deery, Tom Minear, Mitch Clarke
Herald Sun – Page: 6 : 9-Jun-21

The COVID-19 lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne is expected to end as scheduled at 11:59pm on 10 June, although some restrictions will remain in place. The state government is finalising the details, but Melburnians will not be permitted to travel more than 25km from their homes, while cafes and restaurants will be limited to 50 customers at a time and outdoor public gatherings will be restricted to 10 people. Victoria has recorded two new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, although both are linked to existing clusters; there are currently 92 active cases statewide.


Fears over mystery Melbourne Covid cluster

Original article by Grant McArthur
Herald Sun – Page: 9 : 7-Jun-21

Four new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases have been reported in Victoria in the last 24 hours. They include a resident and a nurse at an aged-care facility that has reported two previous infections; both of these cases will be included in the case numbers for 7 June. Meanwhile, health authorities are hopeful that the northern suburbs outbreak that prompted the latest lockdown in Melbourne has been contained, as all of the initial close contacts of people in the cluster are no longer required to self-isolate. However, deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng has downplayed the prospect of the lockdown ending ahead of schedule; he say attention has shifted to the West Melbourne cluster, which now comprises 10 people with the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19. There are 85 active cases in Victoria, including six new cases in hotel quarantine.


Melbourne braces for new lockdown

Original article by Rachel Baxendale
The Australian – Page: 1 & 5 : 27-May-21

The Victorian government has held an emergency meeting of cabinet to discuss further COVID-19 restrictions for Melbourne after six new cases were reported in the northern suburbs cluster on 26 May. There are now 15 cases in the cluster, all of whom have the Indian variant of COVID-19. More than 60 exposure sites have been identified to date, including Marvel Stadium and several locations in regional Victoria. Acting Premier James Merlino has not ruled out further restrictions, including the possibility of a five-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown. He adds that the number of new cases identified on 27 May will determine the government’s course of action. Meanwhile, the federal government will provide Victoria with an additional 130,000 vaccine doses.


Open door in Adelaide led to outbreak

Original article by David Penberthy
The Australian – Page: 5 : 27-May-21

South Australian health authorities have concluded that aerosol transmission of COVID-19 in an Adelaide quarantine hotel is the most likely source of Melbourne’s new cluster. SA Health believes that the Melbourne man who was diagnosed with the virus several days after returning home may have contracted it when the doors of his hotel room and the adjacent room were opened within a short time of each other to receive deliveries, which may have resulted in the man being exposed to contaminated air. Procedures for delivering meals to people in hotel quarantine will be reviewed to minimise such risks in the future. Meanwhile, South Australia has closed its borders to residents of Greater Melbourne in response to the northern suburbs cluster.


Melbourne Covid cluster forces return to restrictions

Original article by Rachel Baxendale, Angelica Snowden
The Australian – Page: 1 & 6 : 26-May-21

The Victorian government has reimposed COVID-19 restrictions across Greater Melbourne in response to the growing northern suburbs outbreak. The restrictions – which include requiring face masks to be worn indoors and caps on public and private gatherings – will remain in place until 4 June. The cluster has increased to nine cases after five people were diagnosed with the Indian variant on 25 May. Genomic sequencing has confirmed that the cluster is linked to a man who tested positive after returning to Melbourne following hotel quarantine in Adelaide. More than 20 exposure sites have been identified, including the MCG, while New Zealand has temporarily suspended quarantine-free travel to Victoria.


Thousands told to get tested, isolate after four new cases in Victoria

Original article by Mitch Clarke, Kieran Rooney
Herald Sun – Page: Online : 25-May-21

Victoria’s run of 86 consecutive days with no locally-acquired COVID-19 cases has ended after four people in Melbourne’s northern suburbs tested positive. They are all said to be close relatives who live in several households. Genomic sequencing is being undertaken to determine if the cases are linked to a man who tested positive after returning to Melbourne following hotel quarantine in Adelaide. A Woolworths store in Epping North that the man had visited while infectious is among the exposure sites that have been identified in the current outbreak. People who have visited the store and other exposure sites will be required to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19. Meanwhile, eight new COVID-19 cases have been reported in hotel quarantine nationwide in the last 24 hours.