A dozen McDonald’s restaurants across Melbourne’s north and west have been closed and hundreds of workers asked to self-isolate after a delivery driver tested positive for coronavirus.
Health authorities believe the driver was a close contact of an employee at the Craigieburn McDonald’s who tested positive last week.
The fast-food chain says the restaurants were closed out of an “abundance of caution” and that no further employees had tested positive.
Victoria reported six new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to Monday morning, its lowest daily number in more than a fortnight.
Two of the cases relate to the cluster at the Fawkner McDonald’s, which has now grown to 12 infections.
Three of the new cases are in people in hotel isolation and the last one is a close contact of a person in home isolation.
Victoria has a total of 1567 coronavirus cases, with nine patients in hospital.
The McDonald’s at Craigieburn was closed on Friday for cleaning after an employee – a relative of one of the cases linked to the Fawkner outlet – tested positive.
A McDonald’s Australia spokesperson confirmed the closures of the other outlets on Monday morning.
“McDonald’s Australia confirms no other employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“However, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to close and conduct a deep clean of 12 restaurants in Victoria, following confirmation a truck driver for an external service provider has tested positive for COVID-19.
“The truck driver made deliveries to 12 restaurants and interacted with a small number of restaurant employees on each occasion while asymptomatic and unaware they had contracted COVID-19.”
Potential close contacts and employees who worked shifts during and after the driver’s deliveries had been told not to return to work for 14 days and to get tested, the spokesperson said.
“The Department of Health has identified the truck driver as a workplace close contact of the previously announced Craigieburn COVID-19 case.”
The spokesperson said McDonald’s would reopen each of the restaurants after the deep cleans were completed and when replacement workers were available.
“There’s a couple of hundred employees across the 12 restaurants, who have been instructed not to return to work for 14 days,” the spokesperson said.
The closed restaurants are:
- Melton East
- Laverton North
- Taylors Lakes
- Hoppers Crossing
- Riverdale Village
- Calder Highway Northbound/Outbound
- Calder Highway Southbound/Inbound
- BP Rockbank Service Centre Outbound
Premier says outbreak a ‘really big concern’
Premier Daniel Andrews told Channel Nine on Monday morning that any outbreak, particularly one involving a case with no symptoms, was a “obviously a really big concern”.
He said the McDonald’s cluster highlighted how rapidly the virus spread and why testing was so important.
“We’re going to see more of these outbreaks,” Mr Andrews said.
“The Prime Minister has made that clear.
“I’ve made the point that it’s going to be part of this virus as it presents in the weeks and months to come and that’s why we’ve all boosted our teams right across the country to be able to track, trace and respond really quickly to outbreaks.”
The Premier added that the state’s public health team was “very confident” about Monday’s reopening of Cedar Meats’ Brooklyn abattoir, the epicentre of a cluster that’s been linked 98 cases including 64 staff and 34 contacts.
“I think there’s about 20 staff going back in there,” he said.
“They’re working in one particular part of that business, in the cold storage part of that business.
“That’s a significant outbreak but one that the chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, has made clear has been handled very well by the public health team.”