News Coronavirus Three more local coronavirus cases in Victoria

Three more local coronavirus cases in Victoria

hotel quarantine victoria
The Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport – ground zero for February's outbreak – will be part of the refreshed program. Photo: AAP
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Victoria has three new locally acquired cases of coronavirus.

The Health Department said the cases confirmed on Friday were linked to the Holiday Inn outbreak and have been quarantining at home during their infectious period.

They are two parents and a child from one family. Two family members spent hotel quarantine on level three of the Melbourne Airport hotel, which has been identified as the source of the most recent outbreak.

“While there is no such thing as a welcome coronavirus case … the processes that we have put in place through our test, trace and isolate team and through the circuit breaker measures of earlier in the week gave us a degree of assurance that if there were to be new cases, they would be in those rings of Victorians who were doing the right thing through either primary contacts or secondary contacts and isolating,” state Health Minister Martin Foley said.

The trio tested positive in routine testing on day 11 after their exposure to the virus.

A total of 22 confirmed cases have been connected to the Holiday Inn cluster, which can be traced back to a family of three who stayed on the third floor at airport hotel.

At least 15 cases have been shown to have the British B117 variant through genomic testing.

About 3400 close contacts of positive cases remain in isolation and authorities had warned more cases were likely to emerge.

Meanwhile, Tasmania will reopen to Victoria from Saturday and allow hundreds of arrivals from the mainland state out of quarantine.

From 12.01am, Victoria will be considered a low-risk area, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced on Friday afternoon.

“People will be able to travel back and forth without needing to quarantine, except people who have been at high-risk premises,” he told reporters.

About 30 sites in Victoria are considered high-risk – people who have been to the areas are not allowed to visit Tasmania unless they have special permission.

Tasmania closed its border to Victoria a week ago in response to a growing coronavirus cluster in Melbourne which Mr Gutwein said was now “in check”.

People who have recently arrived from Victoria will be allowed out of quarantine from 12.01am on Saturday.

Only those who have been to high-risk premises must continue quarantining.

Mr Gutwein said people must wait until they’re contacted by health authorities before leaving quarantine.

About 800 people were quarantining at home and 100 in government-run hotels, Mr Gutwein said.

The new infections in Victoria bring the total number of active cases in the state to 27.

They were recorded after two days without any local cases in the state, and a day after it emerged from its snap lockdown.

Some 21,292 people were tested on Thursday.

It came as three Victorian health networks have been chosen to distribute the state’s first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to frontline workers.

Mr Foley said Austin Health, Monash Health and Western Health would deliver the first doses of the vaccine from Monday.

Hotel quarantine workers, airport and port workers, high-risk frontline health staff and aged care staff and residents will be first in line for the jab.

“Our priority is to support the Commonwealth to make sure that the vaccine is administered to workers at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 as quickly and safely possible,” Mr Foley said on Friday.

“Whether they work in hotel quarantine, at the airport or a specialist COVID ward – we need to keep Victorians most at risk of infection safe, while they continue to keep Victorians safe.”

The vaccine will be administered at dedicated hospital facilities, in hotel quarantine settings, at Melbourne Airport and through mobile outreach teams.

The federal government has allocated 12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Victoria in the first week of the program.

About 59,000 doses are expected in the first four weeks.

Two doses of the Pzifer vaccine are required at least three weeks apart and it must be stored and transported at -70 degrees.

Rhonda Stuart from Monash Health said earlier in February the network had two freezers “ready and waiting” to store up to 180,000 doses.

Six other health networks will also become vaccination hubs as more doses become available. They are Albury-Wodonga Health, Ballarat Health, Barwon Health, Bendigo Health, Goulburn Valley Health and Latrobe Health.

Mr Foley said the Barwon Health hub would begin its public sector residential aged care program next week, “trialling an outreach model to be implemented across regional Victoria”.

Barwon Health will also vaccinate port of entry workers in Portland, in Victoria’s south-west.

Meanwhile, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms in Boronia, Carrum Downs, Caulfield, Langwarrin, St Kilda East and Wantirna South has been urged to get tested after viral fragments were found in sewage this week.

-with AAP