Australia

Seven new coronavirus cases recorded in Victoria as further lifting of restrictions in doubt

Melburnians are set to find out how far coronavirus restrictions can be eased as an outbreak in the city’s north threatens to delay any substantial step out of lockdowns.

Victoria on Sunday reported seven new coronavirus cases and no deaths, keeping the state toll at 817 and the national toll at 905.

It was reported that the all-important two-week rolling case average is at 4.6 for Melbourne, below the 5 that Victorian authorities have long wanted to trigger the next step out of lockdowns.

The regional average is at 0.2 while there are nine cases with an unknown source in Melbourne.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday warned that the outbreak in Melbourne’s north may present an obstacle to easing restrictions.

“I just want to caution people from banking that tomorrow I’ll be making a whole series of detailed announcements about opening up,” he told reporters.

The premier said tens of thousands of tests needed to be processed and the results taken into account before any decisions were made.

He is expected to announce any changes to restrictions later on Sunday.

The premier indicated health authorities would not lock down the affected suburbs as had been done in the past but rather may delay the easing of restrictions for the whole city.

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About 800 residents in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have already been isolating because of the East Preston Islamic College outbreak, which began when a family supposed to be isolating mistakenly sent a child back to school.

A general view of the East Preston Islamic College in Melbourne.

AAP

But Mr Andrews disputed media reports that the family, and others in the area for whom English is a second language, were not provided the translation support they needed.

“The notion that whenever something happens that ought not to happen, that is somehow a fundamental deficiency in our public health response is not fair,” he said.

More than 20,000 warnings have been sent via text and email to taxi and Uber drivers who might have visited the area, asking they go and get tested.

Health workers have been doorknocking homes and new drive-through testing sites are operating across three council areas in the northern region.

Further north, a number of secondary contacts at Sirius College in Broadmeadows and Ilim College are being tested after they were linked to separate close contacts of a confirmed case.

At present, Melbourne residents are allowed to travel up to 25km from home. They cannot have visitors to their home unless for caregiving.

On-site hospitality and non-essential retailers remain closed.

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Outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people from two households and face masks must be worn in public.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

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