Victorian aged care and disability workers will be given priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine from Wednesday to Sunday as part of a “five-day blitz” to get more workers vaccinated. From Wednesday, June 2 to Sunday, June 6, these workers will be given priority access to walk-in vaccination hubs between 9 am and 4 pm, including Shepparton’s McIntosh Centre vaccination hub and the Bendigo mass vaccination hub.
“Because we very much want to ensure we are protecting those people in the aged care facilities and disability sector from COVID-19.” Victoria has recorded nine new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 today, bringing Melbourne’s evolving outbreak to 54 active cases. Six of these new cases were reported in yesterday’s daily COVID-19 update, but weren’t included in yesterday’s official figures, as they came in after the midnight deadline. This means there are three new cases in addition to the 11 cases reported yesterday.
This morning, Health Minister Martin Foley said two of these cases were primary close contacts who were already in isolation, with the other case still under investigation. Victorian testing chief Jeroen Weimar urged people to be proactive in coming forward for testing as, concerningly, many cases in the current cluster had been infected through “stranger to stranger” transmission. “We have seen transmission in these places with very fleeting contact,” he said.
“With previous variants, we are more used to transmission occurring in the home, in the workplace, where people know each other already … These are quite different.” This comes as four infections have been linked to aged care homes, putting vulnerable residents at risk.
The first case was a worker at Arcare Maidstone, who tested positive on Sunday. Initially a mystery case, Mr Foley confirmed today the worker had now been linked back to the South Australian hotel outbreak quarantine. “That is at least confirming in our mind that this is all the one related cluster from the South Australian hotel breach,” he said.
Another three cases were identified yesterday, including the son of the first case, a 99-year-old Arcare resident and an Arcare worker who also worked at a BlueCross Sunshine aged care home. In good news, Mr Foley announced all other staff and residents at the Blue Cross facility had tested negative to COVID-19, with no further positive cases at Arcare Maidstone. Contact tracers have identified 135 close primary contacts linked to this aged care cluster, including 89 residents and 46 staff, contractors and visitors.
On Monday, Acting Premier James Merlino said the next few days remained critical, warning the outbreak “may well get worse before it gets better”. “There is no doubt, the situation is incredibly serious,” he said. Asked whether the state’s seven-day lockdown would be extended, Professor Sutton said it was a “day by day” prospect.
But with zero COVID-19 cases in regional Victoria, he added a “ring of steel” between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria was “not out of the question”, as the Melbourne outbreak worsens.
There are currently 4800 close contacts in isolation, with more than 320 COVID-19 exposure sites across Victoria. Victoria has reported a total of 63 COVID-19 cases, including those in hotel quarantine, with more than 20,400 coronavirus vaccines delivered yesterday.