All of Victoria’s 6.68 million residents will remain under some form of a lockdown – despite the state’s latest outbreak causing not a single death or critical illness, and all the latest cases being linked to known clusters.
Melburnians are anxiously waiting to find out if the city’s draconian Stage Three restrictions will be lifted on Thursday after the outbreak of cases in Victoria grew to 94.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton hinted on Monday ‘nothing was off the table’ and said there would be no ‘snap back’ to previous conditions.
A localised lockdown in the most virus-hit suburbs was likely beyond Thursday, and several restrictions were expected to remain in metropolitan Melbourne.
Senior government sources said on Monday night it would take a ‘massive’ surge of mystery Covid cases for the draconian city-wide lockdown to be extended further.
But of the 11 cases announced on Monday, all of them have been traced to known clusters while eight are primary contacts of existing cases and were already self-isolating – meaning they cannot spread the virus any further.
The cluster hasn’t led to any deaths yet in the state and there are only two residents in hospital with coronavirus in the whole of Victoria – neither of whom are in intensive care.
By comparison, the state’s deadly second wave in August led to 768 deaths and more than 18,000 infections, many requiring ICU treatment.
Two of the new locally acquired cases are a 79-year-old resident at the Arcare Maidstone and a nurse who worked at the north-west Melbourne aged care facility – both of whom were asymptomatic as they had already been immunised against the virus.
Melbourne remains in lockdown despite there only being two residents in hospital as a whole in Victoria – neither of whom are in the ICU. There were 5,500 active cases by comparison during the state’s horror second wave last year
A CONDENSED HISTORY OF VICTORIA’S COVID-19 BLUNDERS
Measles mishap – On Friday, the state’s health bureaucrats admitted they misled suffering Victorians with claims the latest Indian ‘Kappa’ variant of Covid – B.1.617.1 was an ‘absolute beast’ that had infected Melburnians was akin to the measles virus.
Measles, with a reproduction number of between 12 and 18, turns out to be significantly more infectious.
The wrong Woolworths – Health authorities issued a warning for the wrong suburban Woolworths after picking up traces of the virus in the Epping and Wollert area of northern Melbourne last night.
The original exposure site of Woolworths Epping on the corner of Cooper and High Streets was an ‘error’ and meant to be the Epping North supermarket.
The hotel quarantine boss who said ‘#f*ckrisk’ – Matiu Bush was stood down as Victoria’s general manager of infection prevention and control in May after it emerged they refused a Covid-19 test and failed to sanitise or properly use face masks.
Bush, who uses they and them pronouns, was reported to authorities twice over the leaked breaches, The Australian reported.
Bush had used the slogan ‘#f*ckrisk’ to show how the healthcare sector had become ‘obsessed with risk and in doing so stifled creativity’ in 2019 while running neighbourhood charity One Good Street.
The catastrophic Victorian hotel quarantine program with no-one to blame – The virus leaked out of Melbourne hotel quarantine and sparked a six-week lockdown in July, which included a night-time curfew.
The second wave of cases, made up of more than 18,000 infections, led to 768 deaths.
A taxpayer-funded inquiry into the bungled hotel quarantine program failed to find out how who was responsible for the decision to hire private security guards rather than bring in assistance from the Australian Defence Force.
‘It was a program which failed to meet its primary objective to keep us safe from the virus,’ counsel assisting Ben Ihle said during closing submissions.
In September, it emerged the budget for the inquiry had blown out to $5.7million.
The snoozing security guard – In August, ABC’s Four Corners obtained footage of a security guard asleep during a shift at a Melbourne quarantine hotel when he should have been monitoring returned travellers
The 79-year-old had already received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine while the nurse had received the first.
Figures released by health authorities in the UK show the risk of being admitted to hospital decreases by 93 per cent after receiving both doses of the vaccine.
Despite the limited scope of the current cases in Melbourne, Professor Sutton though said he isn’t sure if Melbourne’s school children can go back into the classroom come Thursday.
‘I can’t say,’ he said simply when asked whether home-schooling would stay or go.
The state’s Labor government has now quietly extended its state of emergency 17 times since first bringing it in in March 2020 – giving the Andrews government the power to confine Victorians to their homes.
A Victorian government graph showing the level of transmission in the state since the start of the pandemic demonstrates how the recent outbreak is a small blip in terms of virus spread.
In April, there were about 500 active cases in Victoria while in September during the second wave that figure ballooned to 5,500.
A masked pedestrian walks through a Melbourne inner-city park on June 3. Of the 11 new cases on Monday, all of them have been traced to known clusters while eight are primary contacts of existing cases
Protests have ranged from groups of anti-vaxxers and anti-lockdown protesters taking to the streets of Melbourne, to a swipe from New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Ms Berejiklian on Friday said Victoria was taking the ‘easy’ decision to go into a broad lockdown, rather than trusting their contact tracing system as NSW authorities have done without shuttering businesses and locking down citizens.
Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas meanwhile appeared on Channel Seven’s Sunrise on Friday and argued the Victorian government had to be ‘less conservative dealing with the Covid-19 virus’.
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley said on Monday all the new cases were locally acquired and linked to previous clusters
Raising fears of a extended lockdown, Professor Sutton said on Monday it was too early to determine which restrictions would finally be lifted.
‘It’s frustrating,’ he said. ‘People want to know what things will look like three days from now.’
‘We see different changes every day and they can be something from left field, there can be something very short in terms of new linkages, no wastewater deductions, no new exposure sides, we need to see it play out,’ he said.
Professor Sutton admitted it would not be a total ‘snap back’ to normal when the lockdown was lifted.
Melburnians are currently waiting on edge as they prepare to come out of lockdown on Thursday after restrictions were extended as the state grapples with its latest Covid-19 outbreak – which now sits at 94 active cases
RESTRICTIONS IN VICTORIA FROM 11.59PM ON JUNE 3
Changes will come in for all Victorians from 11.59pm on June 3, with rules relaxed in regional Victoria but few changes for Melbourne
Under the strict rules in Melbourne, there are a number of restrictions:
Stay-at-home order with just five reasons to leave the house:
– Shopping for necessary goods and services
– Going to work or permitted education
– Exercise with a two-hour limit
– Medical reasons and care giving
– Getting vaccinated
As well as this, there will be serious restrictions on people’s personal life, business, work and school:
– No visitors to your home other than an intimate partner. Single bubbles will be permitted. If you live alone, you can make a bubble with another person.
– 10km travel limit for exercise and shopping
– Compulsory masks indoors and outdoors unless in the home
– No public gatherings.
– Restaurants, pubs, and cafes can provide takeaway only.
– Essential retail, so supermarkets, food stores, petrol stations, banks, bottle shops and pharmacies, other retail stores can provide click and collect.
– Childcare and kinders will be open as per the last circuit breaker lockdown earlier this year.
– Approved professional sporting events will proceed but proceed without crowds.
– Schools are remote learning, except for vulnerable children, children of authorised workers, Year 11s and Year 12s
– Higher education will move to remote learning only.
– Community support and recreation, accommodation, but there will be some exemptions that apply.
– Hotels, clubs, TABs and the casino will be closed.
– Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, swimming pools, spas, saunas, indoor and outdoor springs, community venues, drive in cinemas, amusements parks and arcades, creative studios, art galleries and museums, tourism, tours, and transport, and auctions can only happen online.
– Aged care facilities, no visitors except for limited reasons.
– In our hospitals, visitors only for end of life, to support a partner during birth, or a parent accompanying a child.
– In terms of ceremonies, funerals, a maximum of 10 people plus those running the service.
– Weddings cannot proceed unless end of life or deportation reasons apply.
– Religious activities will not proceed other than through broadcast with a maximum of five people.
For regional Victoria:
– Stay-at-home order removed
– No travel limit, but can only go to Melbourne for a permitted reasons (healthcare, emergencies etc)
– Outdoor gatherings can be 10 people
– Food and hospitality open for food only, max 50 people inside
– Retail and beauty open
– 10 at weddings and 50 at funerals
‘As I’ve always said, we’re looking at numbers every day, and we make those decisions on a day by day basis,’ he said.
‘Today brought some positive signs – nine of 11 cases are effectively in quarantine, not many new exposure sites. And we are releasing a number of primary close contacts.’
Four of the new cases were linked to the West Melbourne cluster and included three children and an adult – bringing the total to 14.
Three were linked to the Whittlesea cluster, bringing the total to 32, and three to the Arcare Maidstone aged care facility, raising the total to nine.
Health workers conduct Covid-19 tests in Melbourne. There are now four new cases were linked to the West Melbourne cluster, while the Whittlesea cluster sits at 32
The announcement came as six train services were added to the state’s growing exposure list – bringing the total to an overwhelming 354 venues.
Authorities have confirmed 24,265 tests were received and 17,719 vaccine doses were administered at state-run sites in the last 24 hours.
During a press conference on Sunday, Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said officials’ main concern is tracking down ‘upstream’ transmission.
Six train services running along the Upfield Line have also been listed as Tier Two exposure sites, joining busy supermarkets and shopping centres on the swelling list.
Victoria has recorded 11 new Covid-19 cases as it approaches decision day for whether Melbourne’s strict lockdown will be lifted as planned on Thursday (pictured, Melburnians line up outside a vaccination hub)
Health authorities made the announcement on Sunday after discovering a confirmed case had travelled on the public transport system.
A doughnut store, construction site, restaurant and BP have also been added to the growing list.
The Covid-19 positive commuter had travelled from Merlynston Station to Flinders Street Station from 6.03am to 6.34am on June 2, 3, and 4.
They then later travelled from Melbourne Central Station to Merlynston from 3.55pm to 4.19pm on the same days.
The return to double digit infections was the highest number for 11 days, and comes as six train services were added to the state’s growing exposure list – bringing the total to an overwhelming 354 venues (pictured, Covid-19 testing clinic on Bourke Street in Melbourne)
Anyone who caught the train around the same time has been urged to get tested for Covid-19 and isolate until they receive a negative result.
The train services are the latest addition to Victoria’s exposure list that now sits at 354.
That’s Alotta Donuts at 2/882 Cooper Street in Somerton, north of Melbourne, has been added to the list.
A confirmed case visited the venue between 4.10pm and 5.20pm on May 30.
Probuild Construction Site at 100 Queen Street, in Melbourne, has also been flagged as a tier 1 exposure site after a worker tested positive to Covid-19.
Anyone who was at the venue from 7am to 4pm on May 30 and 31, June 1, 2 and 3 has been told to get tested.
The same advice applies to anyone who visited the site between 7am and 12.30pm on June 4.
The new locally acquired cases were announced on Monday and include two that were reported yesterday and linked to the Arcare Maidstone aged care facility, including a 70-year-old resident (pictured, healthcare workers outside the aged care facility)
Six train services running along the Upfield Line have also been listed as Tier Two exposure sites, joining busy supermarkets and shopping centres on the swelling list (pictured, the Covid-19 positive case had caught the train to Flinders Street Station)
That’s Alotta Donuts at 2/882 Cooper Street in Somerton, north of Melbourne, has been added to the list
Chick Chick (Fried Chicken)/ Sir Duke at 97-99 Puckle Street at Moonee Ponds was also placed on the list with a confirmed case visiting from 3.10pm to 3.40pm on May 30.
BP/David Jones Food Merrifield at 470 Donnybrook Road at Mickleham was also added to the list.
Anyone who visited the venue between 5.40pm and 6.10pm on May 30 has been advised to get tested.
Chick Chick/ Sir Duke at 97-99 Puckle Street at Moonee Ponds was also placed on the list with a confirmed case visiting from 3.10pm to 3.40pm on May 30
Health officials have warned there is no ‘magic number’ of people getting vaccinated before future coronavirus lockdowns can be avoided (pictured, Melburnians queuing to get the Covid jab on Saturday)
LATEST COVID-19 EXPOSURE SITES
Health authorities added on the weekend several new venues to Victoria’s list of exposure sites, which now sits at 354.
Below is a list of venues that have been added to the list as well as the times that they were visited by confirmed Covid-19 cases.
1) Upfield Line:
-Merlynston Station to Flinders Street Station from 6.03am to 6.34am on June 2
-Melbourne Central Station to Merlynston Station from 3.55pm to 4.19pm on June 2
-Merlynston Station to Flinders Street Station from 6.03am to 6.34am on June 3
-Melbourne Central Station to Merlynston Station from 3.55pm to 4.19pm on June 3
-Merlynston Station to Flinders Street Station from 6.03am to 6.34am on June 4
-Melbourne Central Station to Merlynston Station on from 3.55pm to 4.19pm June 4.
2) That’s Alotta Donuts at 2/882 Cooper St in Somerton from 4.10pm and 5.20pm on May 30.
3) Probuild Construction Site at 100 Queen St from 7am to 4pm on May 30 and 31, June 1, 2 and 3, and 7am to 12.30pm on June 4.
4) Chick Chick (Fried Chicken)/Sir Duke at 97-99 Puckle St, Moonee Ponds from 3.10pm to 3.40pm on May 30.
5) BP/David Jones Food Merrifield at 470 Donnybrook Road, Mickleham from 5.40pm to 6.10pm on May 30.
6) Fish Pier at Craigieburn Central on 340 Craigieburn Road, Craigieburn, between 4pm an 5.30pm on May 31.
7) Pinoy Tayo Asian Grocery Craigieburn Central on 340 Craigieburn Rd, Craigieburn, between 4pm an 5.30pm on May 31.
8) HS Quality Food at Craigieburn Central on 340 Craigieburn Rd, Craigieburn, between 4pm an 5.30pm on May 31.
9) Fergusson Plarre Bakehouse at Craigieburn Central on 340 Craigieburn Rd, Craigieburn, between 4pm an 5.30pm on May 31.
10) Quality Fresh Meats at Craigieburn Central on 340 Craigieburn Rd, Craigieburn, between 4pm an 5.30pm on May 31.
11) BP Greenvale on 910 Mickleham Rd at Greenvale between 5:25pm – 5:58pm on June 2.
View a full list of the exposure sites at: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites
Victorians have been warned there is no ‘magic number’ of people getting vaccinated that would guarantee the government stops using lockdowns to control future outbreaks of coronavirus.
The current lockdown – Victoria’s fourth in 14 months – was scheduled to end on Thursday but the continued emergence of new cases in the current small outbreak raised the prospect it will be extended.
Professor Cheng said it was difficult to say what proportion would need to be vaccinated to avoid future lockdowns.
Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said it was difficult to say what proportion would need to be vaccinated to avoid future lockdowns
‘There isn’t one single magic number,’ Professor Cheng said.
‘Once you get up to much higher coverage rates, then it makes a whole lot of things easier.
‘We may not need the intensity of restrictions. We may be able to only do contact tracing without having to do other things quite to the same level, and that is the benefit of vaccination.’
Victoria had administered 1.4 million doses of vaccine in a state with a population of 6.5 million.
Professor Cheng expects Melbourne will be able to ease restrictions on Friday.
‘We don’t want to be in this any longer than we need to. So if we can, we will lift it early,’ he said.
Melburnians are experiencing their fourth lockdown within 14 months. Pictured is a deserted Federation Square on Saturday
Victoria had administered 1.4 million doses of vaccine in a state with a population of 6.5 million (pictured, healthcare workers at the Arcare aged care facility at Maidstone)
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday announced an additional 100,000 vaccines are being made available for Victoria.
The federal government has also extended its suspension of JobSeeker mutual obligation requirements until June 15.