Suburbs face strict lockdown after COVID case spike

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A serious spike in Victorian coronavirus cases has increased the likelihood of strict ‘lockdowns’ of specific Melbourne suburbs.

Announcing 75 new daily cases, the fourth-highest single day increase since the start of the pandemic, chief health officer Brett Sutton said there were not yet legal directions for stay-at-home orders, but that was a “conversation to be had over the next couple of days”.

He said the continuing rise in cases was “absolutely concerning” and the state’s coronavirus situation would “get worse before it gets better”.

He says many of the new cases were due to people “still going out with symptoms”.

He implored people with symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or fever to stay at home, get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate until the results of the test are confirmed.

Victoria recorded 90 new cases of the virus at the weekend. It has now had double-digit increases for 12 consecutive days.

There are no new deaths, with the state’s death toll sitting at 20. There are nine people in hospital, one in intensive care and 1789 people have recovered from the disease.

There were 15,000 coronavirus tests on Sunday, bringing the total of tests undertaken in Victoria to 792,000.

Victorian health minister Jenny Mikakos said that Monday’s cases were “overwhelmingly concentrated” in the 10 suburbs, mostly in Melbourne’s north and west, prioritised last Friday for a 10-day testing blitz.

Six of the cases were recorded on Monday were students at schools in that region, currently closed for school holidays.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, speaking in Sydney, described Victoria’s numbers as a “serious outbreak”.

“We have seven states and territories at the moment in Australia, where there is either no or virtually no community transmission … and what that means is resources that are available in other states can also be deployed to assist,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Sutton said Victoria was “absolutely” experiencing a second peak of coronavirus cases, which would challenge in the same way as the first.

“But like the first one, but we have been testing as significantly as at any point in Australia,” he said.

“It’s a genuine challenge now. I think we’re right at the edge, in terms of being able to manage it.”

“The effective reproduction number has come down, but it is not below one. It needs to be below one in order to drive numbers down,” he said.

Professor Sutton said locking down particular suburbs is “a balancing act”.

“We don’t want to drive people out of suburban areas into new unaffected areas.

“We know that it is a real challenge for businesses, it is a real challenge for people in their homes if that is what is required. But it is absolutely an option.”

New, less invasive saliva tests devised by the Doherty Institute were implemented for the first time on Monday. Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Doherty Institute, said the new tests – in which a participant need only spit into a cup, rather than undergo a back of the throat swab – performed well, but the throat swab was the “gold standard”.

“The advantage of the saliva test is that it is much more acceptable for people to give a specimen, people just need to collect saliva in their mouth for a minute or two and then split it into a small jar and then that gets sent off to the laboratory,” Prof. Lewin said.

“We think it will play a role in bolstering testing reach across the state, particularly, as you heard earlier, in vulnerable populations or in people who have trouble with the throat swab, such as children or other individuals who find it more acceptable,” she said. “Much better to have this done than to have no test at all.”

NSW reported seven new cases on Monday, all returned travellers now in hotel quarantine.

Western Australia had one new case.

Queensland had no new cases.

Queensland announced that sporting teams that play Victorian teams or compete in Victoria will have to self-isolate for 14 days, forcing immediate changes to the AFL fixture. Richmond, scheduled to play West Coast in Brisbane on Thursday night, will now play Melbourne on Sunday at the MCG, while Sydney will now play West Coast on the Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon and St Kilda will play Carlton on Thursday night.

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Written by Will Brodie

40 Comments

Total Comments: 40
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    Laura52
    29th Jun 2020
    3:48pm
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    I live in the hot spot area. I am for lock down of suburbs only. This will get people starting to social distance again, wash/sanitise hands more frequently again and wear a mask for a short time, if needed for shopping , going to a medical practice or on public transport. In my area, I rarely see people doing this, even when walking on a footpath outside my home. I have to go onto the road to walk into my driveway! Enough said!

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    Also, the saliva test is 87 percent accurate from my understanding

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      Yes Laura, but 87% sensitivity from a saliva teat is better than 100% from no test. I understand the throat swab test has only a 96% sensitivity. The worrisome result is false negatives, false positives may be inconvenient but not dangerous. Very little in life has an accuracy of 100%, except of course death and taxes.

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      I certainly agree with you Eddy. This test would be easier for people who suffer from anxiety, children, people with oral issues…less invasive, and yes better than nothing.

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      and yet more than 900 refused testing in just two suburbs. False negatives can result from the time during the incubation period when the test is done or there being no virus in the tested location. There are autopsies of people who died from covid but no virus found in the pharynx or nasal cavity.

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    Why is the N.S.W. Victorian border still open Scott from marketing.

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      Because floss Scott from marketing has no jurisdiction over any state borders, closing state borders is solely the prerogative of the respective state Premiers.

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      That is actually the State’s, in this case NSW’s, responsibility.

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      If I was living in a 0 community transmission state of Australia such as the NT, ACT, SA, TAS WA and Queensland, this would be a fair enough question to be asked.

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      Further floss, Victorian Premier sees no need to close Vic state borders and the NSW Premier, after all her criticism of the Qld Premier about NSW/Qld border, would be seen as a hypocrite if she closed the NSW/Vic border.

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      The border between Victoria and N.S.W is still open because Scott from marketing needs the economy to get started no matter if we’re still in a pandemic and Victoria or should I say some suburbs of Melbourne are having infection of covid problems.

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      The border between Victoria and N.S.W is still open because Scott from marketing needs the economy to get started no matter if we’re still in a pandemic and Victoria or should I say some suburbs of Melbourne are having infection of covid problems.

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      What good is the economy if people are infected and sick?

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      Exactly Eddy….Good old Gladys with her head up Scotty’s bottom couldn’t stop moaning about the Qld border being closed….
      ow it’s ooh ah what do I do….don’t let people from Melbourne into your house….what a load of crap this make believe Premier is.

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      Exactly Eddy….Good old Gladys with her head up Scotty’s bottom couldn’t stop moaning about the Qld border being closed….
      ow it’s ooh ah what do I do….don’t let people from Melbourne into your house….what a load of crap this make believe Premier is.

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      the Vic/NSW border is very porous and there is no evidence of community transmission from Vic to NSW or vice versa that would warrant closing the border.

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    NSW should close the border to Victoria. I agree with Queensland not to be bullied by other states to open their border.

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      I asked that of someone on the border and they said not possible because of the Murray. People can get across. I also heard from someone on the border of NSW and Qld and there are lots of ways across. One way is at the end of their street. So, it is obviously not foolproof.

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      One thing that bothers me are the 10% returning Australian travellers from overseas, quarantined in hotels and who refuses to get tested. These irresponsible people, from my opinion, should be made to pay their hotel cost and stay for extra days at their own expense.

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      I agree. South Australias decision to close borders has been hammered since the moment we closed them. Even derogatory remarks from the Premier were flung. The sneering campaign by so-called commercial news reporters in Sydney and Melbourne bagging us out with much eye-rolling was infuriatingly patronising. I almost feeling like stamping my foot and poking my tongue out at them now that they are faced with their ever-increasing COVID cases. But one must rise above their pettiness and hope the only cases we get, are people flying in from other countries and will be quarantined. Victorians have demonstrated a breathtaking amount of ignorance and disrespect. But that’s what happens when the Eastern seaboard is made out to believe they are the only 3 states of importance in Australia and so believe they are entitled to do what they like.

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      LornaH it is far closer to 30% rejecting testing in quarantine in Victoria. NSW by contrast has far more returning Australians in quarrantine (more fly into Sydney than Melbourne – or anywhere else for that matter even if they don’t live in NSW) yet has only had less than 2% refuse to be tested. As of last Friday, anyone refusing to be tested (the original test) will have to stay in quarrantine an extra 10 days making 24 days all up.

      Just take the test. It is free – as is your quarantine hotel bill for 14 days!

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      Moontell, the Eastern seaboard is NOT one state. And it is obn;y Victoria that has the increasing number of cases. Don’t get too smug in your Southern Australian wilderness. It could just as easily be SA next with an outbreak. It only takes one person with the infection to not do the right thing.This has a good graphical representation:

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/datablog/ng-interactive/2020/apr/22/see-how-coronavirus-can-spread-through-a-population-and-how-countries-flatten-the-curve

      It is Victoria today, it could be ANY other state tomorrow.

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      Yes, KSS, I have seen disparaging comments from SA towards Victoria as well and it is possible for it to happen anywhere. Victoria is densely populated with a lot of people who have English as their second language. We have the largest Greek population outside of Greece for example. The outbreaks have also be linked to some low socioeconomic groups as well. We are away from the hotspots and have been in lockdown all the way through. They will get on top of this but it may take a couple of weeks. Lots of help coming from the rest of Australia which is appreciated but not the criticisms and finger pointing as it is scary enough for the people being affected.
      By all means kept the borders closed as that is common sense which blocks most people entering.

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      I agree with Paddington and KSS. Paddington, the new cases that were revealed today spread over different areas of Melbourne now , even in the affluent areas of Melbourne. 2 of the cases, very close to me ( I am in the hot spot area, as well as being of European origin) are from 2 middle class areas. I am 15 minutes away by car to the CBD. to KSS is right, it only takes one person…I heard about all the young night clubbers partying on in WA…again it only takes one person!

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      LornaH, there is no legal basis for the Vic government to charge those in quarantine for the expense of keeping them there. We just happen to have drawn the short straw with a higher proportion of recalcitrants refusing to be tested. I would be interested to know how many of them were resided in Vic or merely in transit to other states.

      Everywhere has mutts, like the guy in WA who was sneaking out of quarantine to see his girlfriend.

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    Lock down those suburbs now please. For the good of us all.

  6. 0
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    This is a comment I read from a blogger from the Age: makes sense to me, :

    In addition to compulsory testing of all returned travellers Andrews needs to put ALL positive cases and their close contacts into “hot hotel” quarantine. Self-isolation isn’t working! That is the only way we will stop the uncontrolled community transmission.

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      Most have nothing to do with hotels, as one example only.
      All will be kept for an extra ten days if they refuse the test but some were children anyway and now they have the easier test for vulnerable people.
      It is people going out and about which could have happened anywhere as that has occurred across the country.

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    And….Morrison is bullying the Queensland Premier to reopen the border !!!!

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      No, leave it closed. Victoria was bullied for weeks on end to open up. The premiers are in charge of the borders and each State has its own set of circumstances to deal with. Some will creep across borders but most can be kept out.

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      She may as well reopen the border. Half of her constituents seem to prefer being in NSW judging by the number of Qld registered vehicles in Northern NSW. I’ll bet they don’t self isolate when they go home either.

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    SA tests ALL hotel quarantined returned travellers… and more than once to detect asymptomatic as well as symptomatic persons with Covid. It has the power in the legislation to do that (as can occur for TB as well) but spokesperson says people do not refuse as the people do the testing also check other health queries etc, check if they have their necessary prescriptions etc .

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    It is just unbelievable what the Government in Victoria has done. They spent a large part of the 150 Million Dollars to pay people to stay in luxury hotels for free and let them go into the community without testing. The Government of Victoria knows which community is spreading the virus with impunity to others but to remain politically correct, remains silent. The Government of SA was not afraid of naming Swiss and American tourists for the Barossa Valley cluster a few month ago.

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      Testing protocol is to test twice during the stay however the government has no authority to test the recalcitrant mutts that refuse testing. How Vic ends up with 30% refusal and NSW only 2% is anybody’s guess.

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    Re comment about PC. SA named and shamed two groups of travellers from abroad who breached restrictions when it declared a quarantine requirement for all people who even visited the area’s townships at the same or in subsequent 14 days. That alerted local traders and visitors like me and my grandson to self-quarantine for 14 days. Naming an entire ‘community’ when only some individuals and others in other ‘communities’ and ‘mainstream’ (white anglo-saxons and others of at least 2 generations’ standing?) is unhelpful and in my experience leads to uninformed ‘targetting’ in the form of hate speech etc. Better to come among people and speak with them through community leaders and education to ensure a higher level of compliance. One notes that one writer said ‘even’ higher income or middle class suburbs are being affected. It is worth recalling that in some states some of the earliest clusters occurred around those on high incomes in wealthier suburbs who had been travelling overseas on holidays etc – not people in poorer suburbs….

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