Covid-19 coronavirus: Critical 24 hours facing Melbourne as cases rise

Melburnians are anxiously waiting to see if they will be plunged into yet another lockdown, as the state government weighs fresh restrictions amid a worrying rise in Covid-19 cases brought in from NSW.

They are also furious that the virus was spread to Melbourne by removalists who failed to follow the rules of their workers’ permit, did not wear masks and have not been fully cooperating with authorities.

Victoria recorded seven new cases early on Wednesday. Four of the new cases were recorded on level three of Ariele apartments in Maribyrnong where the removalists stopped.

A further two cases were family members of Ariele apartments residents and one case was believed to have been infected at Coles in Craigieburn where a family returning from a red zone were not isolating.

But on Wednesday night, a teacher at Bacchus Marsh Grammar tested positive and there are reports of an additional two cases which would bring the daily total to 10.

The three new cases are all believed to be linked to the apartment building where the removalists worked without face coverings.

Asked if the removalists had been deliberately evasive, Victoria’s Covid-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said: “They’re not being deliberately forthcoming, let me put it that way.”

The removalists also visited sites in Ballan and Broadmeadows before driving to South Australia and then returning to NSW, where they tested positive to Covid-19.

The Herald Sun reports the Victorian government is holding high-level meetings this afternoon to weigh up whether to reimpose restrictions across Melbourne, with an announcement expected as early as Thursday.

A list of Victoria’s exposure sites now includes the Melbourne Cricket Ground after a Covid-positive man visited the MCG on July 10.

Deakin University Chair of Epidemiology Professor Catherine Bennett told the ABC that Victoria is facing a “critical 24 hours”.

“They will be looking closely at those signs that we have seen already some transmission in the community,” she said.

“They need to understand the risk there may be others who have been infected, who didn’t QR check-in to the grocery store … so this 24-hour period we’re now in is critical.”

The threat to Victoria comes after NSW extended the Greater Sydney lockdown by at least another two weeks until the end of July, with another 97 cases on Wednesday bringing the total outbreak to 864.

Kiwis in Melbourne should consider coming home – Hipkins

A decision is yet to be made whether a pause will be placed on the transtasman bubble with Melbourne, however Kiwis in the city should consider coming home, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has said.

Hipkins told Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking this morning that New Zealand health officials were yet to receive enough information from their Victorian counterparts about whether a bubble pause was probable or not.

“But if you are sitting there thinking ‘if a pause happens I can’t afford to be stuck away from New Zealand’, then it would be prudent to make your way home,” he said.

“At this point we haven’t got enough information from [Victorian officials] to make our own judgements on whether or not a pause may be necessary.”

Hipkins said Victorian officials were giving their Kiwi counterparts updates every few hours and a decision would be based on those.

In a statement yesterday, Hipkins “encouraged anyone with concerns about the potential of a pause to quarantine-free travel, to organise to get home as soon as possible”.

Travellers from Victoria would still need a negative pre-departure test, he said, and to fill out a travel declaration form including whether they had been to a location of interest.

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