Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said the state envisaged that home orders and potential suburban closures would contain multiple clusters of coronavirus in Melbourne, after 49 more cases of coronavirus were detected on Saturday – the number highest daily since April.
The overall total increased by 41, with eight cases being reclassified after further tests revealed that these indeterminate results were negative.
This contrasts with Western Australia who had a new case and New South Wales with three – all from abroad. Queensland and South Australia have had no new cases.
Victoria is running a test blitz to prevent the spread of the virus. About 40,000 people have been tested since Friday.
“Just like a bush fire, putting it out is difficult,” said Andrews. “Containing it, however, is something we can do, and [widespread testing and contact tracing] is the most effective thing to do.
“The challenge here is [that] we have to test in these hot spots, but at the same time we cannot take our eyes off any other part of the state. We need to keep these numbers of tests at a satisfactory level so that when trying to track and trace a problem, we are not necessarily aware of any other problem we may have. ”
In a possible return to blockages or other restrictions, Andrews said, “No one wants to come back to it unless we have to. “
The state public health official said the number of community transmissions among the 49 new cases was not yet known, but added that of the 41 new cases announced on Saturday, “the vast majority of these ended up being linked to known outbreaks and clusters. I imagine it will be the same for today. “
The total number of coronavirus cases in Victoria is 2,028.
Four new cases have been linked to existing outbreaks and 26 new cases have been identified through routine testing. Authorities are investigating 19 other cases.
Andrews said the spread of the virus among hotel quarantine workers could come from people sharing a cigarette lighter and carpool arrangements.
” [They were] keep their distance but share a lighter between them, “he said.
“An innocent thing that can lead to transmitting the virus.
“There also seems to be car pooling agreements between employees, which means they were in closer contact than we would like.”
Responding to questions about whether the latest epidemics were linked to migrant families, Andrews cautioned against distinguishing community groups.
“We have outbreaks of people who have returned from Aspen. If you want to make cultural judgments about it, sort of socio-economically, and how much money these lots could have, fine, “he said.
“We have had epidemics in very large marriages, hospitality-related epidemics and various activities during the trip. We have outbreaks at the family level. This is the nature of epidemics. They are concentrated and we have them everywhere.
He added, “This virus does not discriminate based on where you are born, whether or not you pray, and to whom you pray. It’s with all of us and it’s with all of us for a long time, and that’s why we all have to work together to beat it. “
He also said that dinners and family gatherings from “Portsea to Broadmeadows” were responsible for the transmission of coronaviruses.
Experts argue against blaming culturally diverse communities for spreading or believing misinformation, following comments from the state health official who appeared to hold conspiracy theories partially responsible for latest virus spike.
The state’s fight against Covid-19 intensified on Sunday after it was revealed on Saturday that an emergency room nurse had tested positive for the virus.
Details of the Royal Melbourne hospital nurse’s case were yet to be released on Sunday morning, including her level of exposure to other staff, patients or visitors.
A hospital statement said that all known contacts had been informed and were receiving support, and that the hospital was cleaning up further and tracing contacts.
Overnight, Victoria updated her public health guidelines to try to address the concern that some people in compulsory quarantine at the hotel, after returning from abroad, had refused coronavirus tests and had then allowed to enter the community.
The Victorian order now mirrors those of New South Wales – returning travelers will now have to be tested twice before being released from quarantine, or they will have to spend an additional 10 days in quarantine.
Andrews said that about 85% of people in hotel quarantine have been tested and he expected these rates to increase after the introduction of the less invasive saliva test on Sunday.
“I think the reluctance of some parents to have their often very small children tested is that it’s not a pleasant procedure,” said Andrews.
“But with the saliva test coming … I think we will be able to get the numbers up to 100%. “
He said that people could also be fined for refusing a test, but that such a measure would be ineffective in itself, since “average people” could simply pay to avoid a test.
Regarding additional restrictions that could target the suburbs where there had been a cluster of cases, Andrews said, “If we have to further restrict movement in some of these suburbs – so, for example, a home stay order …” if this is deemed to be an appropriate public health response, this is what we will do. “
“I am not announcing this today, but there have been discussions in the media today about these types of suburban closures. I hope it doesn’t happen, “he said, but added that it was a reminder for people in these communities to get tested.
He said the high test numbers “will make it less likely that we will have to switch to these types of restrictions that are re-enforced in given communities.”
“It is not our preference. We will do it if we need to. ”
Andrews said the state’s screening strategy has been approved by outgoing national chief medical officer Brendan Murphy.
“He sees it as a textbook response and one that other states will be well served with.
“So we are very pleased to have the support of other states and territories. We are very pleased to have the support of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Commonwealth, and I am very pleased to have the support of the Prime Minister in implementing this strategy, which would always involve epidemics and always involve more cases . ”
South Australian Prime Minister Steven Marshall said Melbourne’s hotspots were of real concern.
“It is still an unpleasant disease,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
“I don’t think we’re really going to get back to normal until a vaccine is found. We are going to have to live with this disease all over the world. “
There have been 7,641 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across the country and 104 people have died.
Additional reporting by Australian Associated Press