Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended by a week amid fears about a growing number of mystery coronavirus cases.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the extension on Wednesday morning, after Victoria reported another 20 local infections.
Five of those are yet to be linked to existing outbreaks in Melbourne. Only 14 had been in quarantine throughout their infectious period.
Mr Andrews said the latest mystery cases only added to “the number of unanswered questions out there”.
“That’s why sadly today the cabinet of the government … [has] determined to accept the advice of the chief health officer to
extend for a further period of seven days, until 11.59pm next Thursday (August 19),” he said.
“This is very challenging, I know, for every single Victorian who would like to be going about their business. They would like to be open and have a degree of freedom that is simply not possible because of this Delta variant.”
Victoria will also further tighten its border rules from 1pm Wednesday, to require even those NSW residents in the border bubble to get a permit if they travel into the state.
“If this virus can get from Sydney to Byron Bay, to Armidale, to then only a fool would think it couldn’t get to Albury. It absolutely can,” Mr Andrews said.
“We need to go beyond a bubble. We need to have permits – people apply once, have their permit and then have a clear sense of who is moving within those border towns.”
The new arrangements will be enforced from 6pm Friday.
Mr Andrews said the Melbourne lockdown was working, despite the extension.
“But some of these new cases today, and the potential chains of transmission that sit behind them and the fact that we are getting further mysteries, not just the original two mystery cases but further mystery cases, that is a real concern to us,” he said.
Late on Tuesday, Victorian health authorities instructed all staff who worked at the Caroline Springs Square centre between August 2-5 to immediately get tested and quarantine for 14 days.
Several bus and train routes near the shopping centre have also been listed as exposure sites.
There are now 29 coronavirus cases had been linked to CS Square, including four more on Wednesday.
- See all of Victoria’s updated exposure sites here
Wednesday’s mystery cases include a family of three from the City of Melton. The child was already in isolation as a contact of another primary close contact, but there is so far no direct link to the family’s infections.
The other two cases are a father and son from the City of Melbourne. The boy attends St Michael’s Primary School in North Melbourne, but was not there while infectious.
His father is a healthcare worker at a Royal Children’s Hospital eye clinic. Patients and staff are being contacted.
Victorian testing commander Jeroen Weimar said on Wednesday there were nearly 14,000 people self-isolating across Victoria after coming into contact with an infected case.
The state’s exposure site list grew to almost 300 overnight, including a second housing tower in Flemington.