Victoria has recorded three new locally acquired coronavirus diagnoses, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 32.
Just five days ago, Victoria had been on a two-month streak of no community transmissions.
Genomic sequencing has found Victorian cases originated from Sydney’s Croydon and Northern Beaches clusters.
It brings to 21 the number of cases linked to Melbourne’s Black Rock cluster seeded by the NSW northern beaches outbreak.
More than 22,400 test results were received on Saturday, with acting premier Jacinta Allan thanking people for their patience as testing centres try to cope with an avalanche of anxious Victorians.
Testing centres have been working longer hours to meet demand from travellers returning from NSW who require mandatory testing, as well as those identified as close contacts and those who have visited known exposure sites.
Health Minister Martin Foley earlier acknowledged the widespread disruption created by closing Victoria’s border with NSW, but made no apologies.
“Given all that we’ve sacrificed last year, I don’t think Victorians would expect anything else from the government that wants to keep their safety and their wellbeing as its first priority,” he said.
The border closed at midnight on Friday. Now, anyone who tries to cross into Victoria with be turned back.
The only people who can freely cross from NSW to Victoria are essential workers, such as freight drivers, and border community members along the Murray River with permits.
Others must apply for an exemption via the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.
Other states and territories have made increasing efforts throughout the week to protect themselves against infections from Victoria.
Victoria, the only place in the world to crush the second wave from 700+ to zero, & then 2 months of donut days. With covid raging in rest of the world, returning travellers, outbreaks in SA & NSW, outbreaks wr expected.
WE CAN SMASH IT AGAIN. We have the best team in the world. pic.twitter.com/aRKGLqBTqQ
— Dr WHO (@DrCrazyThoughts) December 30, 2020
WA has reimposed a hard border with Victoria and other states are selectively shutting their borders to anyone who has been in the same location as a confirmed case.
Victorian exposure sites are now in: Black Rock, Brighton, Cape Schank, Cheltenham, Doveton, Forrest Hill, Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, Hallam, Glen Waverley, Lakes Entrance, Leongatha, Mentone, Mordialloc, Melbourne CBD, Moorabbin, Mount Waverley, Oakleigh, Southbank, and Wonthaggi.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Allen Cheng said there were more than 220 close contacts in quarantine, and some contact tracing interviews took up to five hours to complete.
“With this number of close contacts we’re expecting that at least some of them may become cases over the next week or so,” he said.
“But what is important is that they’re in quarantine when they’re diagnosed so the risk of onwards transmission is reduced.”
Patience and gratitude
Ms Allan thanked people waiting hours in testing queues for their patience.
“It does show that Victorians are understanding the real importance of going and getting tested, whether they are returned travellers, whether they’ve got any symptoms — it is a really great response for the Victorian community,” she said.
“Today we got over 190 testing sites operational throughout Victoria, so there are more opportunities today for Victorians to get tested.
“I do want to acknowledge the hard-working healthcare staff over the course of 2020, as we have seen, our hard-working healthcare staff worked so hard, protecting and supporting the Victorian community, and they are starting testing sites day in and day out.”