News State Victoria News Four new cases confirmed in Melbourne’s northern suburbs outbreak
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Four new cases confirmed in Melbourne’s northern suburbs outbreak

East Preston Islamic College has been closed until further notice. Photo: East Preston Islamic College
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Victoria has recorded seven new coronavirus cases and no deaths in the past 24 hours.

Melbourne’s 14-day average of new cases is now five and 0.2 in regional Victoria.

The state’s death toll remained at 817 on Saturday and the national figure at 905, with only one death in the past week.

 

While the latest figures will have encouraged Melburnians hoping to see an general easing for restrictions, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was more cautious.

Mr Andrews says tens of thousands of tests are still being processed and authorities need the results to make informed decisions on restrictions, due to be announced on Sunday.

“I just want to caution people from banking that tomorrow I’ll be making a whole series of detailed announcements about opening up,” he said on Saturday.

“It will be a very late night and a very early morning, so we can get as many results on the table so that we can have the most complete picture available to us.”

“It would be wrong to call people to test and then make decisions without having looked at those test results.”

Four of the cases are linked to an outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The state’s health department has urged all East Preston Islamic College and Croxton School families and staff to get tested for the coronavirus after the four cases were confirmed.

Already some 800 residents in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have been isolating because of the school outbreak.

Warnings have been circulated to workers, including taxi drivers, who might have visited the area.

“Yesterday, we sent out 22,000 texts and emails to taxi and Uber drivers, across the northern suburbs, to encourage them to come forward to get tested,” Victoria’s Commander of Testing and Community Engagement Jeroen Weimar said.

“It’s an effective way of ensuring we get another cross-section of mobile Victorians in the community and to understand if there’s been any transmission through that circuit.”

The college was closed after it was revealed a grade five student who should have been isolating as a close contact of positive cases attended the school on Monday and Tuesday.

Testing sites continued to operate across Broadmeadows, Coolaroo, Craigieburn, Heidelberg, Greensborough, Preston and Fawkner.

A door-knocking program commenced on Thursday morning with more than 89 houses approached and 31 tests conducted as additional pop-up testing sites are planned for the Hume, Banyule and Darebin areas in the coming days.

It had been expected that more cases would be detected after residents in multiple suburbs across Melbourne’s north were told to monitor for symptoms after the cluster emerged in recent days.

All East Preston Islamic College and Croxton School families and staff are being urged to get tested for COVID-19, even if they do not have symptoms. Photo: ABC News/Simon Tucci

Mr Weimar said East Preston Islamic College had “taken positive steps to manage this situation and is working closely with us. It has been closed for deep cleaning.”

“Staff and students who are close contacts – and their households – have been identified and are quarantining for 14 days.

“We have a number of people who are self-isolating either at home or as part of the COVID-19 Accommodation program and are being monitored by Austin Health and Banyule Community Health.

“I am so grateful to our community leaders for working with us to keep people safe. I have held several sessions over the last two days to listen and act on the advice from leading community members. We are all Victorians working together to keep this virus away from our families.”

Anti-lockdown protest arrests

Sixteen anti-lockdown protesters calling for an end to the state’s restrictions were arrested in Melbourne on Friday, with 96 fines issued.

The rally began at 2pm at the Shrine of Remembrance and continued for hours, erupting at times in violent scuffles between police and demonstrators.

Three officers were injured during the protests and one was taken to hospital.

Several police horses were also hit in the face with a flagpole by a protester, but were not injured.

-with AAP