News Coronavirus State government looks at forced testing as Victoria records 41 fresh coronavirus cases

State government looks at forced testing as Victoria records 41 fresh coronavirus cases

The Victorian government is seeking legal advice to force returned travellers to get tested. Photo: AAP
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The worrying surge of new coronavirus cases in Victoria shows no sign of letting up, with 41 fresh infections reported as the state notches an 11th day of double digit case numbers.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen said there were 41 new COVID-19 cases recorded for Saturday, following another 30 on Friday.

Of nearly 1990 total cases, 204 are active including five in hospital.

Of the 41 cases, Dr van Diemen said the following eight were linked to outbreaks:

– Three of the new cases are linked to what’s termed the North Melbourne family outbreak
– One case is linked to an outbreak at Wollert
– Two new cases are linked to the Albanvale Primary School outbreak
– One is linked to the Stamford Plaza Hotel outbreak which authorities believe was fuelled by physical-distancing breaches by security guards, taking that outbreak to 18 cases
– And one is linked to the Keilor Downs outbreak

Dr van Diemen insisted “terminology really at this point in time is not that important” in response to a question about whether the state was entering a “second wave” of infections.

“Our case numbers are increasing, so when you look at our overall epidemiological curve there will be, and I’m hoping very soon, a second bump or a second peak, and so that is what this is.

“Whether we have second, third, fifth, 10th waves nobody really knows.

“This is not something any of us have experienced before.

“We will continue on a suppression strategy and, as our Premier and multiple others have said, we know that cases and outbreaks will continue to occur, and we are really just doing our best to keep absolutely on top of them.”

Dr van Diemen said she would look over the latest 41 cases recorded overnight, but said they were mostly from the inner-north-western corridor suburbs of Melbourne.

“So really in those hotspot suburbs that we’re looking at in those LGAs (local government areas) that have been discussed in the last week,” she said.

“So we’re not seeing any real uptick in cases at the moment in those other areas of Melbourne.”

Victoria has ramped up testing with its focus on 10 suburbs with high community transmission – Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.

More than 736,000 total tests had been done to date on Friday.

Meanwhile, almost 5000 thermometers are being shipped to Victorian vacation spots as the state enters the school holidays.

Some of the 200 specialist medical and support personnel from the Australian Defence Force are understood to have arrived in Victoria to help with the state’s coronavirus woes.

More than 1700 people have recovered from the virus in Victoria while 20 have died.

Emergency texts messages are being sent to people in Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows, encouraging people to get tested.

The state government confirmed on Saturday it was seeking legal advice about whether it could make returned travellers in hotel quarantine get tested, a day after it was revealed 30 per cent in Victoria were refusing to do so.

“It’s the government’s view that all returned travellers should be tested,” a government spokeswoman said.

“Following yesterday’s decision at National Cabinet, Victoria is getting legal advice to explore all options.”

Victoria’s hotel quarantine program tests travellers on arrival and the 11th day, the government said.

Over the border in NSW, returned international travellers who refuse to have the test on day 10 must stay an extra 10 days in quarantine.

NSW has a two per cent test refusal rate, authorities said on Saturday.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it was important to test and trace as many people as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It is very important that people do put themselves forward to have these test because ultimately if someone gets coronavirus they are endangering the lives others across the community,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

Victorian Opposition leader Michael O’Brien said it made no sense that people could refuse the test, and if so, should pay for their stay.

“If people in quarantine refuse a test how about we just make them pay for their own stay, and I think that’ll sort it out pretty quickly,” he told reporters on Saturday.

-with AAP