Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley says authorities believe there is a “minimal” risk worker at a drive-through COVID-19 test site in Melbourne’s west was exposed to the virus after a traffic officer tested positive this morning.
- The worker from the Moonee Valley Racecourse testing site returned a positive result this morning
- The test center is closed and workers are identified as contacts in the case in quarantine
- The pathology team is working to identify if there were positive cases through the test center while the worker was on shift
Sir. Foley said the worker from the test site at Moonee Valley Racecourse tested symptoms Monday night before being tested Tuesday and returned a positive result this morning.
He said interviews with tracking contacts were ongoing, but that the worker had not been linked to the current outbreak as a primary close contact.
“Prior to their test … they worked for at least two days while contagious,” he said.
“We believe there will be minimal risk to those on site … however, the site is closed, all staff who have worked on the same shifts have been sent home to isolate and be followed up and our pathology team actually identifies whether there were any positive cases that went through the test center during the period in which the person worked. “
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the infection was a concern and authorities were in the early stages of understanding how the worker caught the virus.
“At a test site, of course, it’s a point we’ll look at in terms of how he might have acquired it, but we need to go through that process of conversations, understand where he’s been while he’s potentially contagious, and then really figure out what the links might be, “he said.
Professor Sutton said most people who walk through the test site will not win down the window to talk to the traffic controller and are therefore unlikely to be in danger.
“I think it’s more about where he’s acquired it from, rather than the risk to those who come through,” he said.
The test site’s employee case is on top of eight new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 that were discovered Tuesday, all of which had been in quarantine throughout their infectious period.
35,862 test results were processed on Tuesday.
The state’s fifth lockdown was lifted at midnight and reopened schools, hospitality venues and gyms with strict density limits.
Household visits remain blocked for a further fourteen days, and masks remain mandatory in all environments outside the home.
Victoria has also tightened its border with New South Wales overnight by excluding Wagga Wagga and other regional communities from the cross-border bubble.
Companies smashed by lockdown and ongoing restrictions thrown lifeline
Businesses hit hard by the state’s recent lockdown and ongoing restrictions will be able to access a range of grants as part of a $ 400 million support package co-funded by the Commonwealth and the state government.
Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas said the funding was a “restart” measure aimed at helping companies get back on their feet after a lockdown, rather than a support measure when the state stepped in.
“We are giving you money because we know you have had the cumulative effect of a difficult time, and cash flow is a critically important part of that,” Mr Pallas said.
Sir. Pallas said he was “very, very grateful” to his federal counterpart Josh Frydenberg for his support.
Alpine companies whose winter ski season was again disrupted by the shutdown will be offered subsidies, and other small businesses that have experienced a 70 percent drop in trade may be eligible for $ 5,000 subsidies.
Sir. Pallas acknowledged that no measures could provide “full reimbursement” for the damage companies had suffered over the past 18 months, but said the government would continue to provide support to companies as it went through the pandemic.
Major events continue to suffer under the restrictions, with the Royal Melbourne Show announcing that the event would be canceled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show was only canceled during World War I and World War II.
The transport industry calls for rapid testing for drivers
According to the Victorian government’s freight permit scheme, drivers must be tested for the virus every three days if they have been in a red zone.
But Victor Anderson, executive director of the Victorian Transport Association, said long waits at test sites and the invasive nature of the nasal swab exposed some intergovernmental truck drivers.
Sir. Anderson said rapid antigen-COVID-19 tests should be used to improve compliance.
“There are very few other industrial sectors that have been tested as often as what are intergovernmental truck drivers,” he said.
“We’re talking about people who have had 50 tests in the last six months. So they get a pipette pushed up behind their nose up the nasal cavity twice a week.”
He said drivers should be able to test themselves with rapid testing every few days and then undergo a full PCR test once a week.
Sir. Foley said the government was committed to increasing the testing regime, but was open to working with the industry to ensure the best process was in place.
Pathologists have warned that many of the rapid COVID-19 tests are not as accurate as the more commonly used PCR tests.
But wider use of rapid testing across school and workplace settings is fighting for Victorian Liberal MP Katie Allen, a former pediatrician.
Dr. Allen said rapid testing could return an initial result within minutes, which could then be confirmed with a PCR test when needed.
When asked about the use of rapid testing in several settings, Professor Sutton said the Victorian authorities had an “open mind”.
However, he noted that the state’s PCR test network was able to return a reliable result within a day and sometimes within eight hours.
Melbourne’s cafés are reopening their doors
Richmond cafe worker Rebecca Hamilton said the recent eruption had hit close to home with several local venues listed as venues, including a Chinese restaurant, a few cafes and a supermarket.
She said it was a huge relief to be able to welcome customers back inside and return to a certain sense of normalcy.
“It’s great, hopefully it’s going to be the last we’ve been through this so many times already,” she said.
Mrs Hamilton said her thoughts were also directed at those in New South Wales who are facing a lockdown extension.
“It’s awful, it’s awful. We’ve been there, no fun,” she said.
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