An urgent investigation is underway in Victoria to find the source of infection after a man in his 30s tested positive to COVID-19 at his home north of Melbourne.
Victoria’s health department issued a statement at 12pm saying a “full public health response” was underway. The man had returned to Australia from overseas and completed his hotel quarantine in South Australia.
Victoria’s health minister Martin Foley urged Melburnians to immediately get tested and isolate if they were at any of the sites listed on the state government’s coronavirus website.
Mr Foley said he travelled from India, via the Maldives, through Singapore before arriving in Adelaide.
“There will be judgements to when he was infectious and that will be based on the outcomes of the serology and genomic sequencing work that is underway, sharing that with what the South Australian working hypothesis is, that he might well have picked this up during hotel quarantine in Adelaide and then working backwards from there.
“So this is very much a first iteration of exposure sites.”
He said there were three “Tier 1” and three “Tier 2” exposure sites, with the department urging people who had visited Tier 1 venues to get tested, isolate and quarantine for 14 days.
The “Tier 1” exposure sites include an Indian restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD and a grocery store in Epping.
Those who had visited Tier 2 sites must get tested and isolate until a negative result is returned.
The “Tier Two” sites include a warehouse in Altona North and a 7-Eleven outlet in Epping on two occasions on May 6 and 8.
“This case is an important reminder that we are still in the grip of a global pandemic. And one of the most important things that you can do is to get yourself vaccinated as soon as possible,” Mr Foley said.
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton confirmed the man caught the virus while in quarantine. He said Victoria was not looking at further public health measures but this was a reminder for people to wear masks on public transport and to check in to places using the QR code.
“There is definitely a sense of complacency creeping in. We have been protected.
“We haven’t had really significant outbreaks for some time and people drop their guard, people go about life as if we haven’t been through the 15 months we have all been through.
“But it is a reminder that we need to be on guard and this is a protection for now and into the future,” Professor Sutton said.
SA’s chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said it was possible the man had a “long incubation” period before developing the virus.
The positive Melbourne case returned from overseas on April 19, and recorded negative tests on day one, five, nine and 13 in hotel quarantine.
But he was staying in a room adjacent to another person who tested positive on day nine of their quarantine, and was then transferred to a medi-hotel.
“This is a particularly nasty and sneaky virus which is easily transferred from one person to another,” Professor Spurrier said.
He has been interviewed by the health department to determine what exposure sites he had been visited. He is currently in isolation at home and his household primary close contacts are also isolating.
“He arrived in Victoria and returned to his home in Wollert on 4 May and developed symptoms on 8 May,” the department said.
“He got tested yesterday [Monday], 10 May, and returned a positive result this morning [Tuesday].
He was retested and the man’s three household contacts have returned negative tests on Tuesday afternoon.
Wollert is a suburb located 26 kilometres north of Melbourne’s CBD.
“Further testing has been urgently arranged to confirm the diagnosis.
“Until that time, the Department is treating this as a positive case and acting accordingly.”
‘Something that’s happened in our hotel quarantine system’: SA
Professor Spurrier said the man, in his 30s, quarantined in the Playford medi-hotel next door to a traveller who tested positive for the virus on May 4.
She said it was possible the man acquired the virus overseas and had a long incubation period before developing symptoms.
“The next possibility is that there’s something that’s happened in our hotel quarantine system and this person has managed to acquire the infection or catch COVID whilst in the hotel setting,” she said.
“This new case in Victoria was in a room at the Playford medi-hotel alongside another traveller who was one of our cases.”
Victoria police officers anxiously await test results
The news comes just as the state had notched up 73 days with no local cases.
Meanwhile, Victoria Police officers are in isolation after rescuing a man believed to have jumped from an oil tanker in Melbourne.
The 31-year-old Georgian national was rescued in Port Phillip Bay on Sunday night, about 5 kilometres from where the international tanker had docked.
There were 8155 vaccine doses and 12,918 tests in the 24 hours to Tuesday.