Victoria has issued urgent COVID alerts after a new ‘mystery case’ attended the Melbourne Cricket Ground Test match and Boxing Day sales at the crowded Chadstone shopping centre.
Just one new local case was recorded in Victoria on Wednesday, and four local cases in New South Wales. However, health authorities are worried about whether the new case in Melbourne picked up his infection at the Boxing Day Test match.
Melbourne’s lone case has sparked urgent alerts and contact tracing efforts, with health officials unsure how and where the man in his 30s got COVID.
The state’s health department doesn’t believe he was infectious at the MCG, when he attended Australia’s match against India on December 27, but it is believed he may he picked up the infection from someone else there – so authorities want to track that person down.
The man developed symptoms on December 30, and has stayed home in isolation since then. He took a test on Tuesday.
People seated in the MCG’s Great Southern Stand’s zone 5 between 12.30pm to 3.30pm, near where the man was sitting, must get tested and self-isolate.
“Anyone who was seated within that zone 5 bubble will be receiving a text message in the next couple of hours, advising them of the situation,” acting Premier Jacinta Allan said on Wednesday.
MCG – Possible acquisition site
If you attended the MCG on Dec 27, seated in The Great Southern Stand, Zone 5, between 12.30pm – 3.30pm, you must get tested & self-quarantine until you get a negative result.
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) January 5, 2021
A day before, the man attended the Boxing Day sales at Chadstone Shopping Centre from 6am to 2pm.
Victorian authorities have also issued alerts for shops at that complex, including the Culture Kings, Huffer, JD Sports, Jay Jays, H&M, Uniqlo, Myer, Superdry, Footlocker and Dumplings Plus. More exact information and timings will be announced later on Wednesday.
In Sydney, NSW Health recorded 32,600 tests and four new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday night.
Two of those cases are thought linked to the growing cluster at Berala, in the city’s west. Another case is a household contact of a previous case on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and another, in western Sydney, is under investigation.
NSW recorded four new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
An additional case was also recorded in a returned traveller, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,789. pic.twitter.com/WDcuydm48v
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) January 6, 2021
Acting Premier John Barilaro said it was encouraging to see testing numbers back above 30,000, but NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said those figures needed to remain high.
“It is critical that we see that sustained high testing rates,” she said.
“We do need that over a sustained period of time, because we are concerned there’s unrecognised chains of transmission, particularly in Berala and the surrounding areas.”
NSW Health has issued a number of new venue alerts for the western Sydney case still under investigation. Those venues include the Merrylands RSL, the Sydney Murugan Temple at Mays Hill, the Saravaana Bhavan Indian Restaurant in Parramatta and the Sydney Marina Dine In and Take Away at Pendle Hill.
Information on all venues visited by COVID cases is available on the NSW Government website and everyone is urged to check regularly for new information as it emerges: https://t.co/pqkRdfh3cR
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) January 6, 2021
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard also extended the list of suburbs which should not visit the Sydney Cricket Ground for Thursday’s cricket Test against India.
On Tuesday, he said people from suburbs around Berala should not attend the game. The SCG’s crowd, normally at 35,000 capacity, will be capped at 25 per cent for the match beginning on Thursday.
On Wednesday, he said that anyone who is “a resident or if you have worked, or if you have been in” suburbs including Auburn, Lidcombe, Rookwood, Wentworthville and Belmore would be barred from the game, and levelled with $1000 fines if they were found there.
Mr Hazzard rebuffed questions about cancelling the Test entirely, saying it was important for people’s “mental health” for the game to go on.
“New South Wales has struck the leading balance in the country in terms of keeping open what is normalcy,” he said.
“To simply say, ‘put off the test’, or to can the test in New South Wales, it wouldn’t be productive. You have to think about people’s mental health, the desire to get out there and have aspects of a normal life, recreational aspects, sport, they all give us a sense of wellbeing.”
-more to come