RICH AND CON­TA­GIOUS

Man linked to in­fected jet­set fighting for life ‘Colorado Ski Trip Clus­ter’ be­ing tracked

Herald Sun - - FRONT PAGE - ALICE COSTER, MATT JOHN­STON AND SUZAN DELIBASIC

A MAN in­fected with COVID-19 who is fighting for his life in a Mel­bourne hos­pi­tal had con­tact with a group of Vic­to­rian jet-set­ters who con­tracted coro­n­avirus in the US ski re­sort of Aspen.

An­other man who in­ter­acted with one of the alpine ski set at a Gee­long Gram­mar par­ents’ cock­tail party in Toorak also caught the virus and was on a ven­ti­la­tor — but has since re­cov­ered.

The Her­ald Sun can re­veal health au­thor­i­ties are now closely mon­i­tor­ing what is be­ing called the Colorado ski trip clus­ter, with dozens of in­fec­tions be­lieved to have spread here from that group.

It’s be­lieved their in­fec­tions orig­i­nated when an adult child of one of the Vic­to­rian skiers vis­ited them in Aspen.

Data re­leased yes­ter­day showed the high­est rate of in­fec­tion in Mel­bourne is in Ston­ning­ton — which in­cludes rich sub­urbs Toorak and Ar­madale — with 57 cases. The Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula — which in­cludes posh Port­sea and Sor­rento — is the next high­est with 32 cases.

A MAN struck down with COVID-19 and fighting for his life in hos­pi­tal had mixed with Mel­bourne jet­set­ters in­fected at the ex­clu­sive Aspen ski re­sort in Colorado.

An­other man who in­ter­acted with one of the alpine ski set at a Gee­long Gram­mar par­ents’ cock­tail party in Toorak also con­tracted the virus, and had to be hooked up to a ven­ti­la­tor, but has since re­cov­ered.

The Her­ald Sun can re­veal Vic­to­rian health au­thor­i­ties are now closely mon­i­tor­ing what is be­ing called the Colorado ski trip clus­ter, with dozens of in­fec­tions be­lieved to have spread from that US trip.

It is be­lieved the COVID-19 in­fec­tions orig­i­nated from a child of one of the mem­bers of the group, who vis­ited them in Aspen while trav­el­ling around the world.

An out­break in Noosa in Queens­land which has hit 30 peo­ple af­ter a 50th birth­day party has also been linked to Aspen — with a man who went to the func­tion at a restau­rant hav­ing re­cently spent time at the Colorado re­sort.

Health au­thor­i­ties are check­ing Mel­bur­ni­ans who had con­tact with the Aspen group, who in­clude suc­cess­ful busi­ness peo­ple and mem­bers of the so­cial elite.

Data re­leased yes­ter­day shows the high­est rates of in­fec­tion in Mel­bourne are in the City of Ston­ning­ton, which in­cludes pres­ti­gious sub­urbs such as Toorak and Ar­madale, with 57 cases.

The Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula, which in­cludes posh Port­sea and Sor­rento, has the next high­est num­ber, 36 cases. The City of Mel­bourne has 32.

Amid re­ports some of the ski party who re­cently re­turned were not self-iso­lat­ing, a few mem­bers of the Aspen group have moved to clear the air and de­clare they were quar­an­tin­ing them­selves.

One of them, Flex­i­group chair­man and for­mer state Lib­eral Party trea­surer An­drew Aber­crom­bie, yes­ter­day broke his si­lence.

He said he was in “good health” and “has been in self­iso­la­tion in Mel­bourne since re­turn­ing home from Aspen”.

Mr Aber­crom­bie and his wife Shadda first put them­selves into self-isolation in the world-fa­mous ski vil­lage af­ter hear­ing some­one they had been in con­tact with there had con­tracted the virus.

Af­ter be­ing cleared by US au­thor­i­ties to re­turn to Mel­bourne, they were tested for COVID-19 by au­thor­i­ties here.

The cou­ple both re­turned neg­a­tive test re­sults.

“He has twice tested neg­a­tive for COVID-19 and yes­ter­day re­ceived a no­tice from VicHealth con­firm­ing his isolation pe­riod is over,” Mr Aber­crom­bie’s spokes­woman said.

He also clar­i­fied he had not been in Port­sea since leav­ing for over­seas in Fe­bru­ary.

The Her­ald Sun yes­ter­day re­ported Port­sea res­i­dents were fum­ing about mem­bers of the Aspen clus­ter, whom they be­lieved were bla­tantly break­ing self-isolation re­stric­tions while in the town.

Other mem­bers of the Aspen group in­clude en­tre­pre­neur So­phie Carnegie-Cooper and her part­ner, debt ex­pert Michael Back­well, and mar­ket­ing an­a­lyst El­iza Ho­nan.

The Her­ald Sun is not sug­gest­ing those peo­ple were flout­ing re­stric­tions on peo­ple re­turn­ing over­seas, only that they were in the group.

The Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices data on coun­cil ar­eas with high in­fec­tions was re­leased yes­ter­day, with a warn­ing that the best way to slow the virus was to re­main iso­lated.

ASPEN

Aspen hol­i­day­maker El­iza Ho­nan tested pos­i­tive to the virus

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