June 1, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo
Victoria is staring down the barrel of another week of pandemic lockdown as it tries to win the numbers game against COVID-19 variants that appear to infect more quickly.
Having successfully remained free of community transmissions for more than 80 days, Victoria ran out of luck last week when an outbreak stemming from a South Australian hotel quarantine “leak” seeded in the Victorian community – the link back to the original positive case in a man who had travelled home to Victoria after spending his two week international quarantine period in Adelaide has yet to be established.
And so began Victoria’s fourth lockdown, which restricts residents from travelling more than five kilometres and then only for five specific reasons. In parallel residents are encouraged to get tested and vaccinated and the speed with which the latest cluster has grown seems to have shocked hesitant locals into getting tested or jabbed or both, with record numbers of people doing both.
Previous lockdowns have not been lifted until community transmission was zero for a few consecutive days and many are expecting a further seven day circuit breaker.
As micenet went to press, another nine Victorians tested positive in the 24 hours until midnight last night for a total of 54 – six of which were announced yesterday – including two staff and one resident within the vulnerable aged care sector, which have not yet been linked back to the main cluster. There is reportedly also another mystery case not in aged care.
But the Acting Premier James Merlino has warned that things would get worse before they got better and the bigger picture of potential threats reveals hospitality and event venues are among more than 320 exposure sites visited by 4,000 primary close contacts and more than 13,000 community members whom contact tracers have been able to identify.
Among the latest major exposure sites are a football match, the largest suburban shopping centre – Westfield Chadstone – bus routes, bars, hotels.
Once again, the hospitality and tourism sectors have been hit hard. However the Victorian government stepped in announcing $250 million in financial support for small to medium businesses that can show the lockdown has impacted their ability to operate, including $20 million specifically for the events industry.