United Kingdom

Victoria records seven new cases of Covid as it chases mystery infection

Victoria has recorded seven new cases of coronavirus on its second day out of lockdown but is still desperately tracing a mystery case.

Health authorities said on Thursday morning that six of the new cases are linked to known clusters and were in isolation throughout their infectious period. 

Contact tracers are now scrambling to figure out how a traffic controller who is not linked to any close contacts tested positive on Tuesday.

Victoria has recorded seven new case of Covid-19. Pictured: Premier Daniel Andrews at a press conference

Health Minister Martin Foley said on Wednesday that the worker and came forward for testing on Tuesday after developing symptoms Monday night. 

They are not a primary close contact of pre-existing cases, sparking fears that undetected cases of Covid-19 could be lurking in the community.

'Case interviews are underway to get an understanding of their movements and interactions,' he told reporters during Wednesday's press conference.

'The person works at the Moonee Valley Race Course drive through testing centre as a traffic controller and worked at least two days while infectious.'

Mr Foley said health authorities believe the risk to others at the site was 'minimal', but have closed the facility and ordered staff into isolation.

Pathology teams are now working to determine whether any positive cases presented at the clinic, and may be the possible source of the infection.

'It's obviously a concern, but we are in early minutes, if not hours, of understanding exactly what's happened where it might have been acquired (he's) at a testing site, obviously that's a point we'll look at in terms of how he might have acquired it,' Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Wednesday.

Professor Sutton said the risk to people coming through the facility was 'extremely low' as most attendees do not speak to traffic controllers.

He said the biggest concern was where the man picked up the virus. The worker was wearing a face mask, but not the same PPE as medical staff.

The new case was detected after the midnight deadline to report new cases.

The other eight new locally acquired cases - recorded from 35,862 tests- are linked to current outbreaks and were in quarantine during their entire infectious period.

The alarming announcement come as Victorians were released from strict stay-at-home-orders at 11.59pm on Tuesday.

A raft of tough restrictions will remain in place to try and stop further Covid-19 infections, details of which were hashed out in a meeting late on Monday night.

Officials have agreed to get rid of the 5km travel rule and reopen schools, shops, gyms, hospitality and retail outlets.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes will have to limit their customers to either 25 or 50 people indoors at any one time, but can now offer on-site dining.

Public gatherings outdoors have been capped at 10 people, while visitors to home are not permitted under the current restrictions.

More than a million Victorian students will return to the classroom on Wednesday, with excursions, planned camps and events also given the green light.

The Victorian government have indicated the restrictions will remain in place for the next two weeks. Masks are still required to be worn indoors and outdoors.

Professor Sutton warned residents of the need to remain vigilant, saying the high number of linked cases does not indicate state is free from the virus. 

More to come. 

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