A Melbourne nursing home has been locked down after a resident was confirmed as one of six cases of community transmission of COVID-19 reported in Victoria on Wednesday.
The resident’s positive test came just two days after federal Health Minister Greg Hunt declared Australia’s aged-care homes were free of the deadly virus for the first time in months.
It follows numerous outbreaks at aged-care facilities across the country, including Newmarch House in western Sydney.
That outbreak eventually infected more than 70 staff and residents, and accounted for 19 deaths. It remains one of Australia’s worst coronavirus clusters.
“In what has been the most intense period, our health system has performed extraordinarily well,” Mr Hunt told Parliament on Monday.
On Wednesday, Victorian health authorities confirmed the 53-bed Rosstown nursing home in Carnegie, in Melbourne’s south-east, was locked down and residents had been restricted to their rooms.
Commonwealth chief nursing officer Alison McMillan said the Rosstown home was following clear guidelines for managing COVID-19 outbreaks, but would be monitored.
The Rosstown resident’s positive test was one of the most concerning of 21 reported in Victoria on Wednesday. The number is the highest since May 4, but includes 15 people in hotel quarantine.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said a large number of recently returned travellers were from the Indian subcontinent.
“Countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are experiencing exponential growth in confirmed cases at the moment, and obviously that’s impacting on the increase on our numbers who are in hotel quarantine,” she said.
Ms McMillan said about 6500 travellers were still returning to Australia each week.
“While these numbers are a little more than we have seen in recent days, we are seeing people return from places where there is a very high prevalence of COVID-19 and so we should continue to potentially expect to see people returning,” she said.
Victoria’s spike on Wednesday followed three days of relatively high numbers – nine on Sunday, 12 on Monday and nine on Tuesday.
NSW and Queensland were the only other Australian states to report coronavirus cases on Wednesday. They each had one.
Another Victorian case acquired by community transmission is a contractor working at the Stamford Plaza Hotel, which has been accommodating returned international travellers.
A household contact of an infected hospital patient at Monash Health was also included in the overnight figures.
That cluster has risen to seven confirmed cases, including a healthcare worker.
“Essentially we’ve got a family grouping and a healthcare worker, and it appears from the investigation that the healthcare worker is not the source of the [Monash Health] infections,” Ms Mikakos said.
The Health Minister said the Monash Health cluster would now be referred to as the “south-eastern suburbs outbreak”.
Another case detected through community testing has been linked to a staff member at Sunbury Animal Hospital, on Melbourne’s northern outskirts.
The employee, who is asymptomatic case, is thought to have worked briefly while infections. Close contacts have been quarantined and the clinic was closed on Wednesday.
The other two cases that were not in returned travellers are under investigation.
On confirmed case reported on Tuesday is a childcare worker from the Inspira Early Learning Centre in Gladstone Park in Melbourne’s north-west.
The worker attended the centre while infectious for two days last week.
The centre has been closed for cleaning and contact tracing.
Ms Mikakos said it could remain closed for 14 days, due to the number of staff and children who would need to self-isolate.