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Concern over mystery cases as COVID-19 spreads across Victoria

“We really are concerned about this ongoing emergence of cases in the Newport area.”

Victoria records 71 new local coronavirus cases

The cases include:

  • 14 cases linked to the Shepparton outbreak
  • 10 cases linked to the Newport cluster
  • Eight cases linked to the MyCentre Child Care in Broadmeadows 
  • Five cases linked to the Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • 12 cases are household contacts of previous cases
  • 22 are mystery cases

SOURCE: COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar August 23 coronavirus update

Mr Weimar also warned the state had again seen a spread into more suburbs in Melbourne, including Essendon West, Camberwell, Thornbury, Fitzroy North, and Maidstone.

Cases had spread as far as Sorrento and Mansfield, he said. “It’s no longer a Newport and Glenroy problem, even though there are some challenges there.”

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Mr Weimar said 29 people were in hospital with COVID-19, including a baby. He pointed out that overall Victorians currently in hospital had a “very young age profile”, mostly under 50-years-old.

‘Soft lockdown’ an option for Victoria: epidemiologist

Melbourne University epidemiologist Tony Blakely has suggested a “soft lockdown” could be an option for Victoria if coronavirus cases in the state don’t drop significantly by September 2.

His modelling showed that, if the state shifted to a soft lockdown in September, the COVID-19 vaccination rate would catch up with case numbers and they would start to go down.

“A soft lockdown would see your cases peak at about 300 or 400 per day, and then start to come down as you caught it by November,” he said on Radio National’s breakfast program on Monday.

“So that’s one option. It’s really just putting it out there for discussion at the moment.

“If people, including government officials, are interested in seeing more about these options, we can do the more formal modelling. At this point in time, it was really a mathematical exercise to work through the options.”

Professor Blakely said the likelihood Victoria would be able to suppress this current COVID-19 outbreak to very low numbers was “getting pretty marginal at the moment”, with the impact of the state’s sixth lockdown not as pronounced as the last.

Mr Andrews said authorities would look at “all options” and said the health advice always weighed up factors including physical and mental health.

He said he could not rule out COVID-19 measures like masks or targeted lockdowns, even when 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated.

“If we had a really nasty outbreak in a vulnerable community in a suburb or part of the state, for instance, in an aged care facility – we might lock down a whole lot of aged care facilities if we had a problem in aged care.

“Or a disability centre … or a school in October. I can’t rule that out.”

Calls to police about COVID-19 rule breaches increase

Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said there had been a pronounced lift in the number of people reporting potential breaches of COVID-19 rules.

He said the police assistance line fielded nearly 3000 calls on Saturday – the most he has seen “in a long, long time, if ever”.

Mr Patton said that, in addition to those fined for anti-lockdown protests, 130 people were fined for lockdown breaches across the state in the preceding 24 hours.

Mr Patton said police had seen an “alarming escalation” in private gatherings at homes in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

The Chief Commissioner described the weekend’s anti-lockdown protests as probably the “most violent protest we’ve seen in nearly 20 years”, with six police officers hospitalised, and one facing leg surgery.

Mr Patton said he was investigating whether public transport could be shut in the lead-up to future protests to prevent large numbers of people from taking part.

Mr Andrews described scenes at Saturday’s protests as both “disgusting” and unlawful.

Exposure site list for Shepparton swells

Victorian health authorities identified new COVID-19 exposure sites in Shepparton on Monday.

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They included two tier-1 sites, which require anyone who attended them during the specified timeframes to immediately get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the test result.

The new tier-1 sites are the Derrimut 24:7 Gym and a Janus Health Hub dance revival class. They are in addition to fresh food shops, a chemist and a university campus in Shepparton, which were added as tier-1 sites on Sunday.

Mr Weimar said on Monday that three schools in Shepparton were involved in the outbreak.

“If you’re concerned that your child may not be 100 per cent right, if you’re concerned about yourself – the quicker we catch hold of that, the better we can protect the rest of your family,” he said.

Victorian health authorities also declared two new tier-1 sites outside Shepparton on Monday morning: a BMW dealership in Brighton and the Emmanuel Medical Centre in St Albans.

Mass confusion reined at the weekend over who was eligible to send their children to childcare.

Mass confusion reined at the weekend over who was eligible to send their children to childcare.Credit:Michel O’Sullivan

Rules on childcare clarified after a confusing weekend

The updates come after a weekend of “confusion and bewilderment” for parents as authorities repeatedly gave contradictory advice on the decision to restrict access to childcare centres to essential workers.

One school principal told The Age he had struggled all weekend to get clarity and information from government officials about which children would be allowed to attend childcare and kindergarten from Monday.

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The Chief Health Officer’s initial directions, published on Saturday, stated both parents would need to be authorised workers to send their children to childcare or kindergarten.

But late on Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews’ office announced the directions would be redrafted to say childcare access would be permitted if just one parent was deemed an authorised worker.

In a further direction even later on Sunday, the Department of Health said that parents would be allowed to work from home.

Victoria recorded no new cases in hotel quarantine over the past 24 hours.

With Erin Pearson and Broede Carmody

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