Victorians face weeks of coronavirus restrictions, even if Melbourne’s lockdown is lifted this week as planned.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton said with no new public exposure sites linked to the 11 new cases confirmed on Monday, the lockdown was on track to end at 11.59pm on Thursday – although it remained a “dynamic environment”.
But Professor Sutton ruled out a return to the relaxed restrictions in place before the outbreak.
“It is certainly not a snapback to large gatherings and a full MCG,” he said.
“It’s not something I can speak to now. It’s early days still. It’s frustrating, people want to know what things will look like three days from now.
“[But] we see different changes every day and they can be something from left field.”
The 11 new COVID infections in Victoria on Monday are all linked to the four outbreaks across Melbourne.
Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed four were linked to the outbreak of the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, which began in West Melbourne.
The latest cases are three children and an adult. It brings the total number of cases in the outbreak to 14.
Four new cases are linked to the city’s outbreak of the Kappa or B.1.617.1 variant, which began in the City of Whittlesea and spread to several locations across Melbourne, including Port Melbourne.
The outbreak now totals 33 active cases in Whittlesea and 31 in Port Melbourne.
The remaining three cases are linked to an outbreak of the Kappa variant at the Arcare Maidstone aged-care home in Melbourne’s north-west, two of which were announced on Sunday.
The additional case is an aged care worker.
The Arcare outbreak has nine cases in total, including three of the home’s residents.
State testing commander Jeroen Weimar said more than 5800 people were in quarantine after coming into contact with a positive case, while there are 350 exposure sites across Victoria.
About 1000 people had ended quarantine following a negative day 13 test, he said.
- A full list of Victorian COVID exposure sites is here
Professor Sutton said he was not “particularly worried” about Melbourne opening ahead of the coming long weekend.
“It is good news that we have not significant new exposure sides out of all the positive cases today – that is something I’d expect to see more and more of as days go by,” he said.
But he would not confirm how Melbourne’s virus rules might ease on Thursday night.
“I don’t wish to speculate. We literally look at everything every day and it is a very dynamic environment,” he said.
“Eleven new cases today is what has happened after a week and a half of a very stringent lockdown … You don’t have to have an overactive imagination to imagine that if you had the opportunity for any number of people to come to your household every day of the past 10 days that it might look very different.”
A lockdown of regional Victoria ended last week, but country residents still face a host of restrictions. They include strict caps on numbers inside venues, mandatory masks indoors and a ban on visitors to homes.
Acting Premier James Merlino has previously flagged Melbourne will move to a similar set of restrictions in regional Victoria, with people unable to travel over the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was hopeful restrictions would be lifted soon.
“I would be urging that we move toward lifting those restrictions as soon as possible,” he said on Monday.
Authorities still don’t know how the Delta variant arrived in Melbourne.
Professor Sutton said authorities were combing through genomic sequencing data from across the country for answers.
The virus is suspected to have leaked from hotel quarantine or from a returned traveller who had an exemption to isolate at home.
Among those allowed to quarantine at home are foreign diplomats.
Asked if a diplomat may have spread the virus, Professor Sutton replied: “We simply don’t know. I wouldn’t rule anything in or out.
“We are obviously checking against everyone who is tested and diplomats should be tested as well.”
He said about 10 people had received exemption to hotel quarantines in Victoria since the beginning of April.