Victoria Covid update: ‘enormous frustration’ as 19 new coronavirus cases reported

Victoria has entered day two of its latest Covid-19 lockdown to news of a further 19 locally acquired cases.

The state’s health department said all were linked to the current outbreak, which now numbers 43 community cases in total. All but one were active in the community while potentially infectious, as the state identified some 10,000 “primary close contacts”.

The latest patients include at least two school students, and there are 14 cases linked to an “index case” – a man aged in his 60s – who attended last weekend’s Geelong-Carlton AFL game at the MCG.

The number of exposure sites has reached 168, and includes pubs, clubs, restaurants, sporting venues, shopping centres, schools and gyms in metropolitan Melbourne, and suburbs and multiple locations at Phillip Island, a two-hour drive south of Melbourne.

The AFL confirmed on Saturday that players from several clubs had visited exposure sites in recent days and had since travelled to Queensland.

The Victorian health minister, Martin Foley, said the potential threat to regional Victoria was ongoing.

“What we’ve seen over the last 24 to 48 hours is a list of exposure sites that now include significant parts of regional Victoria – Phillip Island, the Barwon region, Bacchus Marsh – and the primary and secondary contacts that have spread further than that.”

Saturday’s new cases were a significant rise from the 10 new cases reported on Friday.

“There is enormous frustration for all of us about the uncertainty around this virus,” the Victorian chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said.

“But you might as well read a horoscope to be able to predict how things might look three days from now. We’re on a really good trajectory in terms of having every case linked, but we don’t know what’s around the corner.

“Those super-spreading events are becoming more common with the Delta variant. The transmission within any indoor setting is much higher than we’ve seen previously.

“We just need to brace ourselves for any possibility.”

Foley said the 18 people who were in the community before testing positive were moving about for an average of 1.7 days each and that was reassuring.

“That figure is a vindication of the going-hard-and-going-early strategy that the public health team has put to the government,” he said.

He welcomed stricter measures announced by NSW on Saturday to do what it can to “keep the rest of Australia safe”.

The fifth lockdown which began in Victoria on Thursday night will run until at least Tuesday.

Those who have lost work due to the lockdown will be eligible for weekly payments, jointly funded by the state and commonwealth governments.

Some 90,000 businesses and sole traders that received support during the fourth lockdown last month will be automatically eligible for state government payments of $2,000 or $3,000.

All commercial furniture removalists have also been banned from entering Victoria for two weeks.

Transport workers travelling into Victoria from red zones will be required to get a Covid-19 test every three days instead of seven.

Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania have imposed barriers on travel from Victoria.

No overseas acquired infections were recorded on Saturday.

Authorities administered 19,237 vaccine doses on Friday, while 47,606 tests were conducted.

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