News Victorian 61-day streak ends with three locally transmitted cases of COVID-19
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Victorian 61-day streak ends with three locally transmitted cases of COVID-19

A doctor looks at a test tube
Urgent contact tracing is being conducted in Victoria overnight on Wednesday after the three cases emerged. Photo: Getty
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Victoria’s two-month streak of no coronavirus community transmission has ended, with three new cases being diagnosed on Wednesday night.

The cases, reported to be in Mentone, Hallam and Mitcham and not in hotel quarantine, have been told to self-isolate.

Victoria’s Commander of COVID-19 response Jeroen Weimar said about 40 close contacts of the two women in their 40s and a woman in her 70s have been notified and also told to self-isolate.

“We are so thankful that these people did the right thing and got tested. We always knew this virus had us in a precarious position and we need to make sure we do everything we can to stamp out any further transmissions,” Mr Weimar said.

“Now more than ever people should not let down their guard. Maintain physical distancing, practise good hand hygiene. Stay at home if you’re unwell and, most of all, get tested if you have any symptoms at all.”

Mr Weimar said urgent contact tracing is under way for the cases, which are believed to be linked to the New South Wales outbreak, where 18 new cases of community transmission were recorded on Wednesday.

Mr Weimar said the active cases were a concern but everything was being done to ensure all relevant exposure sites and close contacts were identified.

“We have been in this position before and we are deploying our full outbreak approach around these cases,” Mr Weimar said.

High-risk locations and exposure sites include:

  • Sunday, December 27 – Mentone/Parkdale Beach – 10am-4.30pm
  • Monday, December 28 – Century City Walk and Mocha Jo’s, Glen Waverley – 1.30pm-5pm; and Katialo restaurant, Eaton Mall, Oakleigh – 7pm-8.15pm.

Victoria on Wednesday morning marked 61 days without a local transmission of coronavirus and just one case of a returned traveller in her 20s in hotel quarantine.

There were only eight active cases, all in hotel quarantine or self-isolation, including seven international travellers and a teenage girl at home after contracting the virus in NSW.

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said on Wednesday border openings with NSW were not on the agenda. Photo: AAP

The Victorian government said it remained a “long way” from opening its border with NSW.

Half of the new cases belong to the Sydney Northern Beaches cluster, while a second cluster has emerged in the city’s west, along with cases in Wollongong, south of Sydney.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said decisions about the border were being made on a daily basis, but based on health advice no one was ready to contemplate changes.

“We’re still a long way from that border being open,” she said.

Ms Neville wouldn’t rule out extending the red zone, with concern for cases outside the Northern Beaches.

“I know we were concerned about the Wollongong spread and the case there, and that occurred I think through churches, so we’ll continue to monitor this and if we need we’ll extend that red zone,” she said.

 

Ms Neville acknowledged the effect the border restrictions had on local communities, but said people were largely supportive.

“We all do want to say goodbye to this year, we all do hope that 2021 is a better year that we’ve got ahead but we don’t have a vaccine,” she said.

“It has been a very hard year and we have done an incredible thing as Victorians – let’s not risk it as we celebrate the end of 2020.”

Despite Victoria’s two-month stretch without local transmission, and an overwhelming desire to see the back of 2020, celebrations for the new year will be muted on Thursday night.

Melbourne fireworks that would draw nearly half a million revellers any other year have been canned in favour of lower-key celebrations than the occasion deserves.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said it was natural people would want to celebrate at the end of a difficult year.

But cancelling the fireworks meant a celebration of the city’s hospitality industry, inspired by European piazzas and squares, could go ahead instead.

Nearly a dozen outdoor dining precincts have been set up across the city, including Hardware Lane, Chinatown, Spring Street and Little Bourke Street.

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