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Victoria has requested assistance from Australian Defence Force staff to help with contact tracing and door-knocking positive cases and their close contacts to ensure they are quarantining, with 15,000 Victorians now identified as primary and secondary contacts who have been told to isolate and 121 exposure sites identified.
Four new cases were announced in Victoria on Friday as the state entered its first day of lockdown. There are now 30 community-acquired cases in the state.
The acting premier James Merlino said “I’ve contacted the prime minister this morning”.
“The request will be for around 160 ADF staff for at least the next fortnight to assist our authorised offices in door-knocking … if we have those additional ADF staff pairing up with authorised officers we are effectively doubling our capacity to do that really important work over the next few weeks.”
Merlino said a support package for businesses affected by the lockdown would be announced in “coming days”. On Friday morning the federal health minister Greg Hunt said the commonwealth would not be providing any support.
But Merlino said the Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas was in talks with federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg about support.
“They are in active discussions about what support can be provided and I think it is a good thing,” Merlino said. “The prime minister made some comments that the commonwealth is looking to work hand in glove with the Victorian government and I welcome it.”
Deputy department of health secretary Jeroen Weimar said he was concerned by the types of venues involved in the outbreak, urging those who had been in the bars and clubs identified as exposure sites in particular to get tested and isolate.
“We have an individual who was at The Sporting Globe in Mordialloc between 6:15pm and 9:45pm on Sunday 23 May, and we believe they caught the infection then and they were confirmed positive in yesterday’s numbers,” Weimar said. “So we now see the significant risk in particular at those social venues, the bars and clubs, and we are very keen to ensure that people who have been to those places at those times come forward very quickly.”
Bars in Prahran and South Yarra are also of concern, including Three Monkeys bar, Circus bar, and Somewhere bar.
Victorians have turned out in record numbers to receive their vaccinations since the lockdown was announced, with getting vaccinated one of the reasons people are allowed to leave home.
“A couple of days ago we had 350 people working on vaccination bookings and today we have over 550 working on vaccination bookings, we have 150 people dealing with other Covid-related questions,” Weimar said.
“We have a stable and effective and safe network of vaccination clinics to deal with both Pfizer and AstraZeneca. We have a decent supply at this point in time to do at least double the numbers we have been doing every week. Over the past few weeks we have an average of 50,000 doses per week. We can double that number and we are on track to do that with the numbers we are seeing over the last few days.”
While eligibility was expanded on Thursday to include people aged 40 and above, health authorities said they would continue to consider expanding the eligibility as well as the vaccination workforce.
Victoria’s chief health officer Prof. Brett Sutton said it was important to recognise that while just four new cases seemed like good news, “It is not over yet”.
“We can get 10 tomorrow, 20 tomorrow,” he said. “W absolutely have to recognise that there are thousands and thousands of close contacts still to go through the incubation period, who could become symptomatic.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Melbourne Covid outbreak: Victoria records four new cases as close contacts list swells | Victoria