Two more cases of local transmission of Covid, a resident and a nurse in a nursing home, have been identified in Victoria, in addition to the two infections officially recorded by the state on Sunday, as health officials continue to search for the source of a growing surge. highly infectious Delta variant group.
The newly infected 79-year-old resident at the Arcare nursing home in Maidstone, west Melbourne, lives “very close” to the center’s two previous cases.
In a statement, Arcare confirmed that the resident was fully vaccinated with Pfizer and was asymptomatic, but that he would still be transferred to the hospital “for public health reasons.”
The other case was an agency registered nurse who “last worked at the residence yesterday.” They were asymptomatic and had just received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the statement.
“All team members who worked on Arcare yesterday should be tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days,” said an Arcare spokesperson.
“More tests will be done tomorrow, with the indication that they will be done every other day while we manage this outbreak.”
The two previously announced cases, which were recorded within 24 hours to 8 p.m. Saturday, were known close contacts linked to existing outbreaks.
“A new case is another Port Melbourne finance company employee in his 50s who has been in isolation for the entirety of his infectious period. The other new case is a primary school teacher linked to the West Melbourne outbreak, “said Acting Prime Minister James Merlino.
The West Melbourne group is associated with the Delta Covid-19 variant, a highly infectious strain that originates from the Indian subcontinent, and is genomically unique from the rest of the current Melbourne groups.
While the small number of official new cases was announced as positive news, Deputy Health Director Professor Allen Cheng admitted that officials were still struggling to find the source of the Delta variant.
“The sequence data has been compared to the national database and we have contacted all the other laboratories in the country to make sure that all the sequence data is up to date. Today it could be run again, “he said.
But he said limitations in genomic testing mean that this group’s case of origin may be impossible to determine.
“There is a small proportion of isotopes that cannot be touched. We are closely monitoring the examination of these cases more closely. We are working with them to see if there is more information that can be obtained on these specimens. “
On Saturday, a senior public health official said his “strong hypothesis” was that the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus that caused a second outbreak in Melbourne was caused by a quarantine leak at a hotel.
Cheng said finding the source remains a key area of concern in Victoria.
“What worries us a bit is the upstream. So for these cases, we cannot find who gave them the infection and the family that returned from Jervis Bay. We are concerned about who may have given them the infection, and therefore there could be other infections related to that. “
Despite fears about the infectivity of the strain, he said it was unlikely that it could be circulating widely in Victoria undetected.
“Given that 5% of Victorians have been tested in the last seven days, if there was a big outbreak, I think we would hope we would have caught it, but there is always that risk,” he said.
The Port Melbourne workplace Kappa variant group had five cases added to its total on Sunday, but Cheng said this was because known but previously unlinked cases were connected. The total for this group now stands at 30. The Whittlesea Kappa variant group, the other major group in Melbourne, stands at 29 cases in all.
Despite the low number of cases, Merlino said it was too early to consider easing the blocking measures before next Friday.
“That will absolutely be based on public health advice, and that is the way we have approached this pandemic … As I said just now, we know that Delta variants are 50% more infectious than what we were dealing with. last year, “He said.
During Sunday’s press conference, Merlino announced an expansion of state support for closed businesses, adding an additional $ 32.2 million to help those in the tourism sector.
The new package will come in three parts: $ 16 million will go towards another round of 80,000 regional tourism vouchers to encourage tourism in the state; $ 11.8 million will be used to increase grants available to individual businesses in the tourism sector to $ 7,000; and $ 4.4 million will be used to support alpine regions that have now lost a substantial portion of their winter ski season due to the lockdown.
“When it comes to alpine resorts, as the acting prime minister pointed out, they are exceptionally effective because the revenue period is much shorter than an accommodation or tourism business,” said Tourism Minister Martin Pakula.
“The Queen’s birthday long weekend is one of the biggest weekends, so in recognition of the fact that that will be cut short … there will be up to $ 15,000 for companies that employ on the mountain, up to $ 10,000 for non-mountain businesses and up to $ 5,000 for certain off-mountain businesses. “
Pakula said the tourism support package was necessary because the government anticipated that Melburnians will not be able to travel to the Victoria region for some time, even after the shutdown ends next Friday.