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Australia Victoria records zero coronavirus infections as investigations continue into quarantine case

02:22  06 february  2021
02:22  06 february  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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a sign on the side of a building: Victoria tightened restrictions after a man working at the Grand Hyatt hotel contracted the virus. (ABC News: Peter Healy) © Provided by ABC Health Victoria tightened restrictions after a man working at the Grand Hyatt hotel contracted the virus. (ABC News: Peter Healy)

Victoria has not recorded any locally acquired COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row, as investigations continue into how an Australian Open quarantine hotel worker acquired the virus.

There were also no new cases detected in hotel quarantine on Friday.

The results came from 23,227 tests processed, after the case saw testing sites flooded with residents during the week.

A 26-year-old Noble Park man who was working as a resident support officer at the Grand Hyatt quarantine hotel tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday.

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He had earlier returned a negative test on his last day working at the hotel.

It followed news on Wednesday afternoon that health authorities were investigating the possible transmission of the virus between returned travellers at a different quarantine hotel.

All primary close contacts test negative

Genomic sequencing on Friday confirmed the worker had acquired the more infectious B117 variant of the virus, known as the UK strain.

By late last night, all of the man's 17 primary close contacts had returned negative tests. They are required to complete a 14-day quarantine period.

"I want to emphasise that they can still test positive in this incubation period. It is a highly transmissible virus, more transmissible than your standard coronavirus," Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Friday.

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The Department of Health has a website with a list of exposure sites visited by the positive case.

Anyone who visited the sites at the specified times, located in Brighton, Brandon Park, Clayton South, Heatherton, Keysborough, Melbourne CBD, Moorabbin, Noble Park, Springvale and West Melbourne, has to get tested and isolate for 14 days.

AMA says hotel airflow 'isn't up to the standards we expect'

Investigations are continuing into how the man acquired the virus, but authorities say they are confident it was at work and not in the community.

There were six coronavirus cases confirmed at the hotel, linked to a flight from Qatar to Melbourne, who were all moved to the Holiday Inn "health hotel" for quarantine and treatment.

The worker has been called a "model" employee who followed all infection control protocols, prompting health teams to investigate the potential of aerosol spread.

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Emergency Services Minster Lisa Neville, who oversees the hotel quarantine program, has said all workers would likely be fit-tested with N95 masks in light of the transmission, instead of the surgical masks currently worn during daily tasks.

The Australian Medical Association's Victorian head said the State Government needed to seriously consider ways to improve ventilation systems in quarantine hotels to help stop cross-infection.

The concerns follow the recent coronavirus cases in returned travellers at the Park Royal hotel, where it appears the highly contagious UK variant of spread from one quarantine room to another.

AMA Victoria president Julian Rait said it would be better to use hotel quarantine facilities in remote locations, rather than city hotels.

"We think that perhaps they might be more suited given that the air exchange inside many inner-city hotels just isn't up to the standards we expect from our hospitals or indeed many other health facilities," he said.

Victoria reviewed the airflow and ventilation in all of its quarantine hotels before beginning its revamped quarantine scheme. It is again being reviewed in the wake of the virus's spread through a Brisbane quarantine hotel.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced caps on international arrivals would be lifted in most states and territories.

The capacity at the NT's Howard Springs facility, which uses standalone former workers' accommodation rather than hotel rooms, is set to be expanded.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the suggestion of developing another quarantine facility in Toowoomba in Queensland, saying the Government would continue to assess the proposal.

Tennis fans to wear masks when stadium roofs are closed

The Victorian Government has confirmed tennis fans will have to wear masks in stadiums at the Australian Open whenever the roof is closed.

In response to Wednesday's infection, masks are again mandatory in all indoor settings, the number of visitors allowed in homes has been halved to 15 and a plan to increase workplace caps has been paused.

"In the context of the Australian Open, when the roof is closed at its venues with retractable roofs, these venues are deemed to be indoor spaces under the restrictions and mask use is required by all spectators and officials," a government spokesperson said.

Tennis players on court will be exempt from these restrictions as they are engaged in "strenuous physical exercise".

More than 500 tennis players and support staff who had stayed at the Grand Hyatt hotel were classed as casual contacts and had to isolate while they waited for a negative test result.

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