A second resident at Melbourne’s coronavirus-hit Arcare aged-care home has reportedly tested positive to COVID.
The resident is a close contact of the 99-year-old woman who was the first confirmed case at the aged-care home at Maidstone, in Melbourne’s west.
Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck confirmed the man’s infection in Senate estimate hearings on Wednesday afternoon.
“The resident is asymptomatic and arrangements are being made to transfer the resident out of the facility,” he said.
The man, aged in his 90s, has had two doses of coronavirus vaccine and is asymptomatic.
Two workers at the Arcare home, and the son of one, were also confirmed with the virus this week.
The 99-year-old woman was taken to hospital with mild symptoms earlier this week.
The exposure sent the Maidstone home, and several others across Melbourne, into lockdown.
Earlier, Victoria’s COVID outbreak rose to 60 infections, with six new cases on Wednesday. They do not include the latest aged-care reports.
Victorian authorities confirmed the worst for millions of locked-up Melburnians, announcing the city’s seven-day circuit-breaker lockdown would be extended until at least June 10.
Despite that chief health officer Brett Sutton said he did not expect the state to reach zero infections quickly, even with the strict stay-at-home orders.
“I don’t expect that we’ll get zero cases for the next week,” Professor Sutton said.
“If there is no transmission whatsoever, if there are no new exposures, if there are no new cases, that will put us in a really good position to ease substantially.”
But he did not seem convinced.
“There will still be thousands of people who need to finish their incubation period who could still become cases … there still might be unknown chains of transmission who haven’t stepped up and gotten tested.
“We do not know what tomorrow will bring let alone a week or 10 days from now. We’re all hoping for the best and I think the trend is good as I say, the last 48 hours have seen more and more people who are not infectious in the community.
“We will review, as we always do, on a day by day basis. I have great confidence we will be able to go to eased settings at the end of next week.”
- See an updated list of Victorian exposure sites here
Authorities remain concerned about the transmission of a particularly infectious COVID-19 variant between strangers. At least one in 10 of those infected has picked it up through casual contact, such as in a pub or a shop – in one case transmission is thought to have occurred two hours after an infected person left a pub.
“I have described it as an absolute beast because we have to run it to the ground,” Professor Sutton said.
Acting Premier James Merlino said that while the extended lockdown would be difficult for Melbourne residents, the extension was necessary measure to avoid fatalities.
“If we let this thing run its course, it will explode,” Mr Merlino said.
“We’ve got to run this to ground because if we don’t, people will die.”
Regional Victorians received better news on Wednesday, with restrictions set to ease outside Melbourne from 11.59pm on Thursday.
There has been no community transmission of the virus in regional Victoria this week, although there are concerns about some test results.
Mr Merlino confirmed there would be no “ring of steel” around Melbourne, saying police would rely on mobile patrols and spot checks to enforce restrictions.
The five reasons to leave home will no longer apply to regional areas and there will be no limit on travel. Travel to Melbourne will, however, be restricted to permitted reasons.
Outdoor gatherings can go ahead with up to 10 people and food and hospitality can resume seated service with a cap of 50 per venue.
Retail can open and religious gatherings will resume.
Regional businesses will have to check the identification of everyone they serve to ensure no-one from Melbourne is breaking lockdown rules.
Health Minister Martin Foley said there had been unexpected wastewater detections of the virus in Bendigo and on the Mornington Peninsula.
There are also exposure sites at Anglesea, on the Great Ocean Rd.
Meanwhile, Melbourne residents will continue to have only five reasons to leave home: To shop for food and essential items, to provide or receive care, for exercise, work or study, or to get vaccinated.
The travel limit for exercise and shopping will extend from 5 kilometres to 10 kilometres in Melbourne, with masks mandatory both indoors and outdoors.
Year 11 and 12 students will return to face-to-face learning, while some outdoor jobs such as landscaping and painting can resume.
“At the end of another seven days, we do expect to be in a position to carefully ease restrictions in Melbourne, but there will continue to be differences between the settings in Melbourne compared to regional Victoria,” Mr Merlino said.
He added that even if restrictions can be eased in Melbourne after another seven days, there will be no travel to regional areas for the June 12-14 Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
The state government will also extend its support for business, with an extra $209 million in grants.
Mr Merlino added Victoria has again called on the federal government for more financial support.
“I do hope that the Commonwealth will swiftly confirm that they will step up and provide that support,” he said.
“If they do not, I will be raising this directly at national cabinet on Friday.”
The “circuit-breaker” lockdown was meant to end at 11.59pm on Thursday.
One of Victoria’s new cases on Wednesday was a man who travelled to NSW while potentially infectious last week. His wife and two children have also tested positive.
There are more than 5000 close contacts self-isolating as part of the outbreak and more than 350 exposure sites across the state, including country petrol stations in Euroa, Glenrowan and Wallan, as well as the sites in Anglesea.
In the 24 hours to midnight, 51,033 people were tested for COVID-19 and 20,585 were vaccinated.
A five-day vaccine blitz kicked off for Victoria’s aged care and disability workers at 10 vaccination centres across the state from Wednesday.