More than 30 new virus exposure sites have been added across inner-Melbourne as Victoria’s COVID cases spiked further on Wednesday.
Three more infections were confirmed, on top of two included in the daily figures that had been reported on Tuesday.
It came as state leaders met to decide whether coronavirus restrictions would ease across Victoria later this week as planned.
State health authorities say all five of Wednesday’s infections are linked to current outbreaks. But they are yet to reveal if any are part of the burgeoning cluster that has sent an inner-city townhouse complex into lockdown.
There were already six infections in the Kings Park on Southbank complex on Tuesday afternoon. Authorities are worried the virus is spreading through common areas in the development and have put it into lockdown for at least a fortnight.
Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar described the outbreak as “the most active front” of the state’s recent virus crisis. The townhouses are home to about 200 people – with all in lockdown and testing boosted.
As the outbreak grew, dozens of new exposure sites in inner-Melbourne suburbs were added late on Tuesday. They included the busy South Melbourne Market, where a positive case visited several stalls at the weekend.
The entire market has been declared a tier two exposure site, and was closed on Wednesday.
Executive director Danielle Bleazby told Melbourne’s 3AW radio that “about 7000 people” visited the market during the exposure period of 11.30am-1.30pm last Saturday.
The market is normally closed on Thursdays but “we’ll be right to go on Friday”, Ms Bleazby said.
Other new exposure sites include the South Melbourne Woolworths, Port Melbourne Bunnings, Ikea in Richmond and shops in Melbourne’s CBD.
- See all of Victoria’s latest exposure sites here
Testing numbers also leapt across Melbourne with the addition of the new exposure sites. By 10am Wednesday, centres at St Vincent’s Hospital, Alfred Health, Montague Street in South Melbourne, and Aughtie Walk in Albert Park had already reached capacity.
It is not yet known what effect the latest cases will have on plans to ease Victorian virus rules later this week, although the ABC is among outlets reporting some relaxation will go ahead.
Senior Victorian government officials met on Wednesday morning to firm up plans.
Last week, Acting Premier James Merlino flagged that Melbourne’s rules would likely move closer into line with regional Victoria, where two adults are currently permitted for home visits each day.
“That would mean the travel restriction, in terms of the 25 kilometres, that would go,” he said at the time.
But Health Minister Martin Foley said the further potential easing of restrictions from just before midnight on Thursday remained a “day-by-day proposition”, particularly with the developments at the Kings Park townhouses.
Mr Weimar said the men lived in separate apartments adjacent to those occupied by positive cases.
“Those two positive cases are connected to some communal areas that we are concerned about, thoroughfares within that particular complex,” he said.
The low-rise complex, which has about 100 residences, is being treated as a tier one exposure site.