Victoria’s fourth lockdown will most likely be extended, according to a leak to the mainstream press on Wednesday morning, where it is suggested that tough restrictions would remain in place until at least early next week.
Six new COVID-19 cases were recorded overnight, bringing Victoria’s active caseload to 67 after more than 51,000 people were tested for the virus on Tuesday.
The state government and health officials debated the length of the extension in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday night amid fears of more infections.
COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar expressed fears on Tuesday that the new strain of the virus sweeping through Melbourne is one where transmission occurs aftert “fleeting contact”.
“What we are seeing now clearly is people who are brushing past each other in a small shop, they are going to a display home, they are looking at phones in a Telstra shop – they don’t know each other’s names and that is very different from where we have been,” Mr Weimer said on Tuesday.
“That is very different from what we have seen before. This is the biggest outbreak we’ve seen in Australia this year. It is certainly the fastest-moving outbreak we’ve seen anywhere in Australia for a long time. I’m not taking this lightly.”
Cases have been genomically linked to the original case of a man who caught the virus on his final day in hotel quarantine in South Australia on 4 May before returning to his home in Wollert, Victoria, that day. Cases are linked genomically, however health workers have yet to determine how the virus spread from the man to Whittlesea where 28 positive cases were noted and Port Melbourne, where 23 positive cases were recorded.
“We are absolutely clear that there is a missing link between this individual and the subsequent outbreak that we have seen and Whittlesea and Port Melbourne,” Mr Weimar said.
Cases according to Postcodes
The Department of Health has released data that shows where the local cases are, based on the person’s place of residence.
15 ACTIVE CASES
- 3076 — Epping
SIX ACTIVE CASES
- 3064 — Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Kalkallo, Mickleham, Roxburgh Park
FOUR ACTIVE CASES
- 3182 — St Kilda, St Kilda South, St Kilda West
TWO ACTIVE CASES
- 3028 — Altona Meadows, Laverton, Seabrook
- 3037 — Calder Park, Delahay, Hillside, Sydenham, Taylors Hill
- 3074 — Thomastown
- 3083 — Bundoora, Kingsbury
- 3190 — Highett
- 3196 — Bonbeach, Chelsea, Chelsea Heights, Edithvale
ONE ACTIVE CASE
- 3012 — Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray
- 3013 — Yarraville, Yarraville West
- 3040 — Aberfeldie, Essendon, Essendon West
- 3043 — Gladstone Park, Gowanbrae, Tullamarine
- 3044 — Pascoe Vale, Pascoe Vale South
- 3058 — Batman, Coburg, Coburg North, Merlynston, Moreland
- 3072 — Gilberton, Northland Centre, Preston, Preston Lower, Preston South, Preston West, Regent West
- 3075 — Lalor
- 3078 — Alphington, Fairfield
- 3101 — Kew, Cotham
- 3142 — Toorak, Hawksburn
- 3146 — Glen Iris, Tooronga
- 3205 — South Melbourne
- 3207 — Garden City, Port Melbourne
- 3754 — Doreen, Mernda
- 3806 — Berwick, Harkaway
- 3977 — Botanic Ridge, Cannons Creek, Cranbourne, Cranbourne East, Cranbourne North, Cranbourne South, Cranbourne West, Devon Meadows, Junction Village, Sandhurst, Skye
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the lockdown would be reviewed “day by day” though he admitted that the latest cases, especially in aged care, were concerning.
“We are neck and neck with this virus, and it is an absolute beast,” Professor Sutton said. “It has been a rapidly moving virus and the transmission that has occurred in those high-risk settings has been very substantial.”
Acting Premier James Merlino earlier this week refused to rule out extending the lockdown, due to end on Friday, adding that the decision would depend on both case numbers and the “type of cases” while taking risks into account.
“There is no doubt the situation is incredibly serious,” Mr Merlino said. “The next few days remain critical … this outbreak may well get worse before it gets better,” he said.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said it seemed clear the lockdown would last “a lot longer” than seven days.
“It’s a very concerning day for Victorians. The pretty clear message is that we can’t look forward to restrictions being eased on Friday,” he said.
Victoria’s businesses have suffered in particular with 90 insolvencies recorded in May, according to ASIC data, which also shows that 88 businesses had shut their doors in April.
There are well over 330 exposure sites across dozens of suburbs, including Chadstone shopping centre, Peninsula Hot Springs, La Trobe University, the South Melbourne Clarendon St shopping strip, the MCG, Marvel Stadium, Southern Cross Station, South Wharf DFO, Westfield Doncaster and numerous food outlets, petrol stations and supermarkets.
New high-risk exposure sites:
- Sporting Globe Mordialloc, 590 Main Street on 23 May 6.17pm – 9.43pm
- Three Monkeys Prahran, 210 Chapel Street on 22 May 9.10pm – 11pm
- Three Monkeys Prahran, 210 Chapel Street on 23 May 12.30am – 2am
- Somewhere Bar Prahran, 181 Chapel Street on 22 May 10.30pm – 1am
- The Palace Hotel South Melbourne, 505 – 507 City Rd on 21 May 5.45pm – 6.45pm
- The Local Port Melbourne, 22-24 Bay Street on 21 May 1.40pm – 3.30pm