Melbourne lockdown extended by seven days as Victoria records 20 local COVID-19 cases

By: Joseph Dunstan and Bridget Rollason

Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed Melburnians will spend another week in lockdown, warning if restrictions were eased now the state could rapidly find itself battling a similar outbreak to New South Wales.

“This is very challenging for every single Victorian who would like to be going about their business, they would like to be open and have a degree of freedom that is simply not possible because of this Delta variant,” he said.

Mr Andrews said if the state were to open now, it would see high numbers of cases in a “very short space of time”.

“If we were to open then we would see cases akin to what’s happening, tragically, in Sydney right now,” he said.

He said the government would make an announcement about more business support as early as Thursday.

Victoria has recorded 20 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases out of 41,571 test results processed on Tuesday.

Of the new cases, 15 are linked to current outbreaks and 14 have been in quarantine throughout their infectious periods.

The current lockdown was due to end at 8:00pm today but will now be extended until at least August 19.

Late on Wednesday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Drive program it was likely that another “incursion” from New South Wales had caused the latest outbreak, rather than it being linked to the outbreak that triggered Victoria’s fifth lockdown.

“We had identified and linked every single case right up until the day we got zero new cases,” he said.

“So to see these cases so soon after that and not to have a clear acquisition for them makes me think they’re separate.”

“It does seem to me that it was a separate incursion … and that it had been dribbling along without being tested, without being identified until it exploded into a school and other areas.”

‘Too many unanswered questions’ to ease lockdown now, Premier says

Mr Andrews said the discovery of five more mystery cases was one of the reasons the extension was required.

“There are too many cases, and too many cases the origins of which are not clear to us, too many unanswered questions, too many mysteries for us to safely come out of lockdown now,” he said.

But he highlighted the increasing proportion of daily cases that were quarantined while infectious as evidence the lockdown “is working”.

“It is more than containing cases, to have 14 of those 20 locked away in iso, no risk to public health, as I said earlier in the week, that trend would grow. We started with one case, then we moved to four or five, now we’re at 14,” he said.

Professor Sutton said with more than 12,000 primary close contacts across the state and more than 300 exposure sites, meant Melbourne was not in a good position to ease restrictions.

“We’ve got exposure sites that extend across the metropolitan Melbourne region, we’ve got cases that are not just confined to a couple of suburbs in the north and west, they really are quite extensively spread,” he said.

But he said he was “confident” the city was getting ahead of the outbreak.

Late on Wednesday, Western Health said it was directing ambulances away from the emergency departments at Footscray and Sunshine hospitals  “due to COVID-19 exposure site related staff shortages”.

The health service said the emergency departments remained open to the public for urgent medical care.

The Premier also announced the cross-border bubble with New South Wales would be further tightened, with permits required for all cross-border residents from Friday night.

“From 1:00pm Thursday, but not enforced until 6:00pm Friday, people will need to, if they want to use that bubble they will need to get a permit,” he said.

“And before anyone says ‘Oh why, why would you do that’, if this virus can get from Sydney to Byron Bay, to Dubbo, to Armidale, to Tamworth, then only a fool would think that it couldn’t get to Albury.

“It absolutely can, and that’s why we need to go beyond the bubble.”

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