Otago Daily Times
More testing, restrictions in Victoria
MELBOURNE: Authorities in the state of Victoria have vowed to test hotel quarantine staff no longer working in the programme after a man linked to the Australian Open tennis tournament tested positive for Covid19.
The 26yearold from Noble Park in Melbourne’s southeast returned a positive test on Wednesday, forcing hundreds of people into selfisolation, including some tennis stars.
The man worked as a ‘‘resident support officer’’ at the Grand Hyatt hotel, as part of the Australian Open hotel quarantine programme.
He returned a negative test after working his last shift at the hotel on January 29, but later developed symptoms and went for a test on his own accord.
Deputy chief health officer Prof Allen Cheng said health authorities would expand the daily testing regime for hotel quarantine staff to cover those who were not working.
‘‘We are making sure that they are tested on their days off,’’ he told reporters yesterday.
‘‘There will be a testing programme for people that finish work.’’
Two of the man’s close household contacts had tested negative, while health authorities had reached 19 of the 20 people identified as close contacts.
A further 600 casual contacts also had been told to isolate and get tested, as had 520 tennis players, officials and support staff.
Wastewater samples collected from the southeast on Tuesday had also come back negative for Covid19.
‘‘These are all good positive early signs. We have got to this in good time,’’ Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday.
The case brought the state’s 28day run of zero community transmission to an end and prompted a reintroduction of some restrictions.
Masks must now be worn indoors and the number of visitors allowed in private homes has been halved to 15, while a scheduled increase in the number of workers allowed to return to the office has been put on hold.
It was unknown if the man was carrying a more virulent international variant of the virus; the results of genomic testing are expected today.
Cheng said it was likely the man had contracted the virus from a positive case in the quarantine hotel.
‘‘It’s not rocket science to say he’s probably caught it from one of the cases. We are aware there were six cases at that hotel,’’ he said, noting four were the more infectious United Kingdom variant.
Several hotel quarantine security guards last year contracted Covid19, sparking Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus, which killed hundreds and led to months of lockdown. — AAP