News Coronavirus Victoria eyes return to freedom, with just two new COVID cases

Victoria eyes return to freedom, with just two new COVID cases

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Restaurants, shopping centres and streets have been emptied again across Victoria. Photo: Getty
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Victoria is eyeing a return to freedom after just two more local coronavirus cases were confirmed across the state on Tuesday.

Both of the latest cases are linked to the Holiday Inn quarantine outbreak that sparked the five-day lockdown that will last until at least 11.59pm on Wednesday.

They are family members of some of the 17 cases already confirmed in the cluster.

“They’ve been isolating. They’ve been at home. They’ve done the right thing,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“They’re not unexpected positives, although I will make it clear they did test negative some days ago.”

Both of the latest cases are linked to a function in Coburg, in Melbourne’s north, that was attended by a Hotel Inn worker. Mr Andrews said everyone who was at the family gathering was being retested.

The Premier offered his strongest hint yet that the Victoria-wide lockdown was likely to end on Wednesday night.

“I don’t want to be celebrating the fact that we have additional cases … but it is fair to say that with just two contained additional community cases today, this strategy is working,” he said.

“We are well-placed to be able to make changes tomorrow night. As I said yesterday, I’m not in a position to definitively commit to that, because these next 24 hours will, of course, be crucial.”

Mr Andrews said the virus rules likely to apply across Victoria after the lockdown ended had not been determined.

“That will be based on public health advice, whether we can go back directly to the settings that were there on Thursday and Friday or whether we have to ease back into it,” he said.

“I wish I could give people a definitive answer right now but that would not be honest. It would be guess work at best – so the best thing to do is we just wait, see what happens over the next 24 hours.”

The state also had two more infections in hotel quarantine, and has 25 active COVID cases.

Tuesday’s results came from 23,950 tests across Victoria.

Testing commander Jeroen Weirmar said there were nearly 1200 people linked to 40 exposure sites across Melbourne.

They included 70 primary contacts at three psychiatric units at two major Melbourne hospitals after a worker’s positive diagnosis.

“We have not just tested those 70 individuals but also a whole number of other people, potential secondary contact in and around those mental health units,” he said.

“Results are still coming in but we’ve got over 114 negative results
out of those broader populations, including the majority of those 70.”

There are also more than 100 primary contacts from Melbourne’s busy Queen Victoria Market after it was visited by an infected person. They include 32 stallholders and 72 people from a primary school in Ballarat who were on a school excursion to the market during the exposure period.

“We’ve seen an extensive deep clean of the market and I can confirm the market, within the current restrictions of our current lockdown, is a safe place for those who are able to access it within the five-kilometre limit for the designated purposes.”

On Monday, Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said he needed to see more data, and conceded more cases stemming from the quarantine hotel cluster were likely to emerge.

But he indicated they would not necessarily sink Victoria’s chances if they were linked to contacts of confirmed cases.

“We’re hoping that all of those would occur in people that have already been identified, already been quarantined and would not generate any more exposure sites,” Professor Sutton told ABC radio on Monday.

“That’s the critical thing. We don’t want new cases to emerge where we hear that they’ve been to multiple public areas or gatherings.

“That’s, in essence, the reason for this five-day short, sharp lockdown.”

-with AAP