Victoria’s six-week run of no active coronavirus cases has come to an end, with five confirmed positive in hotel quarantine, but the state remains free of locally acquired transmission of the virus.
The five cases reported on Saturday – two males in their 30s and 50s and three females in their 20s, 30s and 50s – were uncovered from 8737 tests.
They are obliged to remain in hotel quarantine until they have both tested negative and been cleared by officials.
According to the state government, there were 571 international arrivals in quarantine hotels on Friday, including 44 with symptoms or complex health needs at the Novotel “hot hotel” in Melbourne’s South Wharf.
Some 220 returned travellers were due to arrive late on Friday.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Ben Cowie told reporters on Saturday symptomatic and non-symptomatic arrivals are separated almost immediately at the airport, with major precautions in place for those who are symptomatic.
He said some 2000 tests of hotel quarantine staff had already taken place.
“Our hotel quarantine system was designed on the premise we would have returned travellers testing positive,” Dr Cowie said.
“Detecting positive cases actually demonstrates the system is working and doing what it’s supposed to do.
“All steps are being taken and all resources are being mobilised to ensure to the best of our ability those numbers we see remain only in the hotel quarantine program, and furthermore, that those people are given the absolute best standards of health care and support they need.”
Meanwhile, Business Victoria says 40,000 vouchers offered as part of the first round of the state’s Regional Travel Voucher Scheme have run out.
Holidaymakers hoping to snap up one of the Victorian government’s $200 regional tourism offers prompted the application website to crash within minutes on Friday morning, having opened at 10am.
Those intending to spend two or more nights in regional Victoria between Saturday and January 22, 2021 were able to apply.
Business Victoria said the website received 800,000 visits by Friday at 5pm.
Eligible destinations under the $28 million scheme, announced as part of a $300 million state budget tourism package last month, include the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Bellarine Peninsula.
“If those $200 vouchers mean people stay an extra night, maybe go to a local pub or restaurant. That’s all about wages and spending and investment,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday.
Victorian residents can apply even if their travel has already been booked.
While the first round of vouchers is exhausted, a second application window will open for trips between January 27 and April 1. A third round will be available between April 6 and May 31.
Opposition tourism spokeswoman Cindy McLeish labelled the launch a “flop”.