Victoria has reported 30 new coronavirus cases as authorities implement a testing blitz to try to bring the state’s outbreak under control.
Among the cases confirmed on Friday is a staff member at a McDonald’s at Mill Park, in Melbourne’s north, and a second worker at Orygen Youth Health in Footscray, in the inner west.
After the state’s 10th day of double-digit COVID increases, it has 183 active cases, with six patients in hospital. More than 1700 people have recovered from the virus in the state.
Elsewhere, NSW had six cases on Friday, including one in a year seven student at Camden High School, in Sydney’s south-west. Queensland had one new case, in a quarantined traveller.
Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen said seven of Friday’s cases were linked to known outbreaks, five were in people in hotel quarantine and five were detected through routine testing. The remainder are under investigation.
Dr van Diemen said health authorities were also working closely with Coles, after confirmation a second worker at a distribution centre in Melbourne’s west had contracted COVID-19. That person is linked to the Keilor Downs family cluster, which has grown to 19 infections.
“We are taking no chances and those staff members are literally just going to work and going home, and we are testing the entire cohort of workers,” she said.
“[We are] also working very closely with Coles, who have an exceedingly comprehensive suite of infection control going, and they have increased those in the past 48 hours.”
The worker from the Mill Park McDonald’s is part of an outbreak that has been renamed the Wollert cluster, after being traced back to a social gathering there. It is the same outbreak linked to St Monica’s school in Epping, in Melbourne’s north.
Dr van Diemen said the McDonald’s had been cleaned and had either reopened, or was about to. The youth mental health facility has gone into lockdown.
She said Victorians should take note of restrictions on household and family gatherings, with limits on visitors reduced to five, as school holidays start on Friday.
“We ask residents of Victoria to really think about whether they need to
undertake frequent social events, either between extended family groups or social groups,” she said.
“This is the thing that is driving transmission at the moment.
“We really need people … really thinking about whether you really, really need to have so many gatherings and really trying to minimise those gatherings.”
A fleet of mobile testing vans hit the road in Melbourne on Friday in a massive blitz that aims to test 100,000 people in 10 days.
Victorian authorities want to test half of the residents in the city’s 10 virus hotspots – Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.
Victoria has stepped up virus testing this week, aiming to hit about 20,000 a day. Samples are being sent interstate for testing to help meet demand.
On Friday, about 800 staff hit suburban streets to zero-in on community transmissions.
“A lot of people [are] knocking on doors and speaking to people individually, a lot having tests done at a whole range of testing sites that have been stood up in these areas, in drive-through areas and other pop-up sites so it has been positive,” Dr van Diemen said.
“The chance that anyone in these hotspots has COVID is low, but our message is not about specific individuals from hot spots, it’s about the behaviour of the population at large – not going out if you are sick, getting tested and maintaining physical distancing and hand hygiene wherever you are.”