The two new local infections bring Victoria’s total cases to 72, including two recovered cases, in the outbreak that began in late May after a man who quarantined negative at a hotel in Adelaide returned to Melbourne and gave positive.
The daily increase was less than the five new cases reported on Saturday and both cases were linked to existing groups, which authorities said meant Melbourne’s restrictions were likely to be eased on Thursday.
“If we can, we will get it up early, but at this stage our expectation is that it will continue until Thursday,” Victoria’s deputy health director Allen Cheng told reporters.
Health authorities remain concerned about the emergence of the highly infectious Delta variant, which has now spread to 10 cases as the source has yet to be identified and there has so far been no genomic match with any other case in Australia.
The Delta variant, which has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of four worrisome COVID-19 variants due to evidence that it spreads more easily, likely caused the latest devastating outbreak in India.
“The last thing we want to see is this variant of the virus coming out and becoming uncontrollable,” said Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino.
A family that traveled to a coastal town in the state of New South Wales was the first in Melbourne to be infected by the Delta variant.
“We are concerned about who may have given them the infection, and therefore there could be other infections related to that,” Cheng said.
Australia has been relatively successful in controlling the virus with snap closures, strict border restrictions and social distancing. Victoria has accounted for two-thirds of the more than 30,100 COVID-19 cases and 90% of the 910 deaths in the country since the pandemic began last year.
Merlino announced on Sunday A $ 32 million ($ 25 million) in assistance to regional tourism and accommodation operators to make up for an interrupted ski season, in addition to the A $ 460 million pledged last week for the companies affected by the closure.