Victoria COVID four-way balloon case; Highpoint shopping center listed as an exhibition site

“Genomic sequencing is underway and should be back tomorrow or shortly thereafter,” Mr. Foley said.

“The dates don’t line up immediately, so we can’t rule out if there’s a missing link.”

One of the new cases went to Highpoint Mall on May 20.Credit:Simon schluter

The new cases are the first confirmed cases of community transmission in Victoria in almost three months.

One of the new positive cases visited Highpoint Shopping Center on Thursday, May 20, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone in the mall during these hours should self-isolate until further notice and get tested immediately.

The jump! Swimming school at 4/37 The Concord in Bundoora has been listed as an exhibition site, and anyone who attended the school between 8:55 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. on Friday, May 21 should immediately self-isolate for 14 days. and get tested.

Victoria’s chief health worker Brett Sutton said one of the new cases had a high viral load and was ‘likely to be quite contagious’, given that three other family members were already tested positive.

“Obviously we have the positives and they were the immediate close contacts, and there hasn’t been a lot of close contact, but we have to go through this interview and the re-interview process to identify someone. else, “he said at a press conference on Monday.

“We have to prepare for all the other positive aspects and when there is close contact that turns positive, you know, that raises the possibility that even casual contact becomes positive as well.”

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Professor Sutton said he believed the child who tested positive was part of a swim lesson at the Jump! Swimming school on May 21.

He said health officials were not yet sure how many close contacts were on the premises when a positive case was in school.

Mr Foley said there appeared to be no link between the latest coronavirus cases and hotel quarantine, but the public health team was working through secondary contacts to rule out that possibility.

Health officials have warned Victorians not to be complacent, calling the discovery of four new cases a “wake-up call.”

Mr Foley said they didn’t believe any of the new cases worked in high-risk areas.

He said “we are concerned there is no doubt” following the discovery of the new cases, with a man being symptomatic for three days before being tested. None of the four new cases was hospitalized.

“After nearly three months without community transmission, a certain degree of complacency having set in, it is a reminder to all Victorians … it is not over,” Foley said.

“We are a long way from collective immunity in Victoria and Australia.”

He said they were awaiting the results of genomic tests – which will attempt to link the new cases to the positive Wollert man who also visited Epping while he was infectious – by tomorrow.

Professor Sutton said the state is working on a local transmission hypothesis occurring in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, with a particular focus on the town of Whittlesea where the COVID-positive family lives.

He said the state “will always be at risk until we have high immunization coverage” and as such it was important to follow the ground rules – wear masks, get tested and get vaccinated if you can.

“These critical messages wear a mask when you can’t physically move away and it’s mandatory in Victoria,” Professor Sutton said. “Get tested whenever you are symptomatic. And if you’re eligible, get vaccinated and don’t delay. “

Mr Foley said Victoria would not be subject to stricter COVID provisions on Monday, as health authorities await more information on the movement of the four confirmed cases.

Professor Sutton said they are not considering forcing residents of the town of Whittlesea to wear masks outside their homes as the virus cannot be limited geographically.

He said major changes to COVID rules, such as broader mask-wearing warrants, are “really expected to happen across the board.”

The cases come days after the Department of Health admitted on Friday that it named the wrong supermarket as the exhibition site when COVID-19 was confirmed in a Victorian man who returned from state to state, which led to public health alerts earlier this month.

The ministry has since blamed an electronic banking transaction for the confusion.

Authorities had listed the Woolworths in Epping, when it should have been the Woolworths in Epping North.

He admitted his mistake, identifying the correct site as Woolworths Epping North, two miles away.

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Authorities were still awaiting test results from three people linked to the exhibition site on Sunday, while 10 others returned negative results.

Victorian President of the Australian Medical Association Julian Rait said he suspected the new cases were related to confusion at the department’s exposure sites and feared authorities had missed the opportunity stop the transmission.

“The biggest concern is that the virus is brewing in silence,” Professor Rait said.

“If there was a delay in detecting these cases, they could each have produced two or three more cases by now. Those additional cases in turn could potentially have produced two or three more cases each, so you are currently looking at 10-30 cases. “

Prof Rait said the error showed the department’s data cleansing for contact tracing, which involves cross-checking information to make sure it is correct, still falls short.

“My concern again is that they haven’t learned from the mistakes of the past as they should have been very diligent in making sure they had the right exhibition sites to start with,” he said. declared.

“Everyone in Epping knows there is more than one Woolworths. It just re-emphasizes that they should constantly improve and test the systems and check everything so that these errors don’t happen.

“The degree of double-checking and data cleansing that you would normally expect just wasn’t there. It is probably human error, but it is simply extremely disappointing. “

Mr Foley attempted to explain how the error occurred during an interview with the ABC on Saturday.

He said contact tracers received an electronic transaction receipt from a banking app, indicating that the person at risk had made their purchases at Epping Woolworths.

“After reviewing the evidence and re-interviewing the main close contacts involved, the receipts from what turned out to be Epping North Woolworths nevertheless indicated on the receipt Epping Woolworths,” Mr Foley said.

“Since Epping Woolworths is right across from another established exhibition site, the public health team concluded that it was in fact Epping Woolworths.

“Further investigations revealed that it was in fact Epping North Woolworths.”

The health ministry later clarified that it was an “electronic transaction receipt provided through the individual’s banking app” that the contact tracers had used.

“The department thanks Woolworths for their help in clarifying the correct location and in quickly organizing staff testing,” the department’s daily statement reads.

Initially, people who visited Woolworths Epping for an hour on May 8 were asked to get tested and self-isolate after a Victorian man tested positive for coronavirus on his return from hotel quarantine in South Australia .

With Nick Bonyhady

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