News COVID across four states: ‘Mystery’ case shuts schools, ‘unusual’ case concern, and lockdown extension fears

COVID across four states: ‘Mystery’ case shuts schools, ‘unusual’ case concern, and lockdown extension fears

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A Victorian school has shut and another says it will also close its doors after a teacher’s mystery COVID-19 infection brought an end to the state’s short-lived ‘doughnut day’ of zero cases.

In New South Wales, there are more exposure sites and continuing questions about why some retail remains open.

That state has again been confronted with the deadly consequences of the Delta variant as the youngest victim was named as 27-year-old Aude Alaskar.

Western Australia is tracking an “unusual” virus case in a local who may have briefly come into contact with an infected man who was denied entry to Perth after flying from Brisbane. Leaders don’t seem to be considering a snap lock down – yet.

Queenslanders, meanwhile, are waking to growing concern their lockdown will need to be extended past Sunday.

The news is more positive in South Australia where some restrictions are easing on Thursday.

Here’s what we know so far about the latest out of each state impacted by outbreaks.

Thousands of Victorians to isolate

Victoria has named exposure sites for the first time in a week, after a teacher at a school in Melbourne’s west tested positive.

A testing blitz began on Wednesday after the woman who teaches at Al-Taqwa College in Truganina was announced as a new case.

Earlier in the day, the state was celebrating a day of zero cases – its first since before the latest lockdown.

More than 2000 students and 300 staff have been ordered to get tested and isolate.

A second Islamic school announced that it would also temporarily close.

Ilim College wrote on Facebook on Wednesday night that it would shut its campuses which are in Dallas, Glenroy and Doveton.

“We must reiterate that Ilim College has not had any positive COVID results from this outbreak,” the school said.

“The closure of our campuses is a precautionary measure for all our students, employees, families, and community.”

It’s possible the infected teacher, aged in her 20s, was infectious while in the community in the past week.

Authorities do not yet know how she contracted the virus.

Victoria’s COVID Testing Commander Jeroen Weimar said the woman became symptomatic at the end of last week.

“We’re working on the basis that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday last week, so the 28th, 29th, and 30th [of July], we’re assuming that’s the point in time when she may have been infectious,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

The woman lives in the Hobsons Bay area with her husband, who was also being tested on Wednesday night.

She had taught at Al-Taqwa College on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week and had also visited the Coles in Yarraville last Thursday. The school is a ‘Tier 1’ site while the supermarket is ‘Tier 2’.

  • Click here to see more details on the exposure sites and what to do if you are a close or casual contact

Youngest NSW death shows victims quickly deteriorate

NSW authorities are bracing for the possibility more young people could become seriously ill with the Delta variant, as friends and family mourn the sudden death of 27-year-old Aude Alaskar.

Mr Alaskar collapsed in his southwest Sydney home and died on Tuesday, making him among the youngest victims of the pandemic in Australia since it began in 2020. He was not vaccinated.

Aude Alaskar
Aude Alaskar was said to be fit and healthy, and played sport regularly. Photo: Facebook

Meanwhile, ABC reports on Thursday morning that three young children are among the latest coronavirus cases detected in the state.

Mr Alaskar’s football coach and longtime friend Senan Sharif told AAP his friend was a “gentle man, a guy with a smile, he always helped people”.

Mr Alaskar, who worked as a forklift driver, was well respected in the Sabian Mandaean community of southwest Sydney, Mr Sharif said.

An unvaccinated woman aged in her 80s also died in hospital on Tuesday, taking total deaths since mid-June to 17.

The state recorded 233 new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 9pm on Tuesday. At least 68 were in the community while infectious.

Based on that number, Premier Gladys Berejiklian believes case numbers will get worse.

But the premier rebuffed criticism that she had not shut down retail outlets like hardware store chain Bunnings.

Bunnings was closed for in-store shopping, except for tradies, in Victoria’s recent lockdown but shoppers could ‘click and collect’.

The Reject Shop, also the subject of debate, has hit back at claims its stores should not be open in Greater Sydney.

“The Reject Shop plays a critical role in providing essential products to low income Australians during the pandemic including grocery, pet supplies as well as hygiene and cleaning products, including face masks,” a spokesperson told AAP.

“Over 80 per cent of what we sell is available in supermarkets.”

NSW officials have repeatedly said the main sites of transmission are households and workplaces.

New exposure sites include Polytrade Recycling Centre in Strathfield South and High Street Family Doctors in Penrith.

  • Click here for the full list of NSW exposure sites

Queenslanders must stay home to avoid longer lockdown

The cluster centred in Brisbane’s western suburbs is currently at 63 cases after another 16 were added on Wednesday.

There are concerns the situation could deteriorate further and the Chief Health Officer has implored residents to stop attempting to find loopholes around stay-at-home orders.

“If we don’t do something really, really special in Queensland, we’ll be extending the lockdown, so please … try your absolute hardest to stay at home,” Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Wednesday.

Dr Young asked people to delay online and “click and collect” shopping for non-essential items until the lockdown lifts in a bid to further prevent movement on the streets.

“Do you need those people out in the community, delivering packages?” she said.

There are now almost 200 COVID-19 exposure sites for close and casual contact across southeast, central and far north Queensland.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles reiterated the message to stay put unless locked down residents “absolutely” needed to do essential shopping or receive health care.

“Five more days, do the right thing, and then next week you can buy all the sun lounges you think you need,” Mr Miles said.

A childcare centre, a doctor’s clinic, bus routes, cafes and a church are among the new exposure sites.

  • Click here to see the full list of Queensland exposure sites

Perth FIFO worker may have been ‘casual contact’

West Australians are being urged to get tested for the coronavirus amid fears a fly-in, fly-out worker may have been infectious while in the community.

A miner who worked at the Cloudbreak mine returned a very weak positive result. Photo: AAP

The man in his 30s returned a “very weak” positive test result in recent days but has since tested negative.

He is in isolation and has not displayed any symptoms, having previously tested positive to the virus in March last year after returning from overseas.

The man worked as a maintenance contractor at Fortescue Metal Group’s Cloudbreak mine in the Pilbara between July 20 and July 27 and went on to attend venues in Fremantle, Scarborough and Subiaco.

He is believed to have contracted the virus at Perth Airport from a Queensland man who flew there on July 20 and was subsequently denied entry to WA. That man tested positive to the Alpha variant of the virus upon returning to Brisbane.

“It’s a highly unusual situation,” Premier Mark McGowan said on Wednesday.

“The best explanation we have for his weak positive test result is that he probably acquired it from the man at the airport through some sort of casual contact.

“We think he was positive over the course of the last 16 days … (but) there’s a strong prospect he wasn’t infectious because he was COVID-positive early last year.”

Health Minister Roger Cook said WA Health would update a list of six exposure sites, including the airport, as new information emerged.

As of early Thursday morning, new exposure sites include the pathology waiting room of the Fremantle Hospital and a doctor’s clinic in South Perth from when the man was seeking medical help on 2 August.

In the days before that, he had been at supermarkets, pubs, a bakery and a butcher’s shop.

“There will be a large pool of casual contacts,” Mr Cook said.

“There’s no reason to believe this will lead to a lockdown but there’s very much cause for concern.”

The FIFO worker’s girlfriend has tested negative, as has one of his three closest workmates. Results are pending for a flatmate and two other coworkers, one of whom is described as currently being in a remote location.

SA restrictions to ease despite new case

South Australia has eased some local COVID-19 restrictions, but the state’s hospitality sector has urged authorities to look for ways to go further.

From Thursday the state’s general density requirement has moved to one person to every two square metres, allowing most venues, including pubs and restaurants, to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

But a group known as the Hospo Owners Collective has called on the state government to outline a plan for a return to 75 per cent capacity.

It also urged the government to “cease distracting the public from our plight with mentions of how much money has been distributed in grants”.

“We all know it is a drop in the ocean stacked against the losses of last week let alone the costs we have borne in the last 12 months of restricted trade in the interest of public safety,” it said in a Facebook post.

In other local changes, sports competition can resume with spectator numbers at outdoor venues limited to 1000, but SA will keep mask-wearing in place for high-risk settings, high schools and most public places, including shopping centres.

Family gatherings will continue to be limited to 10 people, and weddings and funerals will stay at 50 people.

All food and drink consumption must be seated.

A crowd of 15,000 has also been approved for the AFL game at Adelaide Oval between Port Adelaide and the Adelaide Crows this weekend.

The changes come despite SA reporting one new local virus case associated with its recent outbreak, taking the number of confirmed infections to 22.

The case was revealed on Wednesday, more than two weeks after the outbreak first emerged, and took the number linked to the cluster to 22.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the positive test involved a man in his 20s who was the family member of a previously confirmed infection.

He was already in home quarantine with confirmation of his case coming after a relatively long incubation period.

“This is a demonstration of how the virus can be quite different in different people. This person didn’t have any symptoms,” Professor Spurrier said.

“But he had been completing his quarantine at home. There’s no reason to suspect there’s been any exposure.”

-with AAP