Covid 19 coronavirus: New restrictions in Melbourne as outbreak grows; NZ Govt ‘discussing’ bubble

New restrictions will be introduced across Melbourne tonight as Victoria’s new Covid-19 cluster continues to grow.

Another case of Covid was detected in Melbourne overnight, bringing the total number of infections in the cluster to five.

The new case is a man in his 60s and was been identified as a close contact of one of the previous cases.

Speaking to reporters in Dunedin, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand health officials are “in close contact” with those in Melbourne.

She said the Government is having a “discussion as a team” about whether there are any impacts on two-way travel.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins will have an update later today, Ardern said.

The new Melbourne case comes after Victorian officials announced on Monday that four people had tested positive to coronavirus, including a man in his 30s, a man in his 70s, a woman in her 70s and a preschool-aged child.

As a result a range of new restrictions will be introduced across Melbourne from 6pm tonight local time, including:

• Limiting private household gatherings to five people per day
• Limiting public gatherings to 30 people
• Masks will be required indoors for everyone aged 12 and over unless an exemption applies

It follows the revelation that one of the cases announced yesterday was “likely quite infectious”.

At a press conference this morning, Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton warned Melbourne residents “we have to ready ourselves” in case more positive cases are detected within the community.

“The viral load was high and with close contacts becoming positive, he is likely to be quite infectious,” Sutton said.

“There [was] not a huge number of close contacts but we have to go through the interview process to identify anyone else.

“We have to ready ourselves for any other positives and when there are close contacts who do become positive, that raises the possibility that even a casual contact could become positive as well.”

Multiple locations have been added to the list of sites visited by confirmed Covid cases during their infectious periods.

Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino said Victorians who live in Greater Melbourne will still be able to travel to regional parts of the state but must continue to follow the restrictions wherever they visit.

“For example, if you visit someone outside metropolitan Melbourne, they must have not more than five visitors at that house in that day.

“Victorians visiting regional Victoria from Melbourne will also need to wear a face mask when indoors, even when outside metropolitan Melbourne, unless an exemption applies.”

Merlino said the restrictions are being brought in based on public health advice and will allow contact tracers time to “get on top” of the outbreak.

Genomic testing has found the new infections are “closely linked” to a case from a few weeks ago that originated in South Australia.

Earlier in the month a man tested positive to the virus after becoming infected while undergoing hotel quarantine in South Australia and then flying into Melbourne and returning to his home in Wollert.

Health authorities believe there could be a “missing link” between this case and the new cluster, though none of the new cases have been found to be linked to any exposure sites from the Wollert case.

Kiwi travellers warned

Last night, NZ’s Ministry of Health advised Kiwis who have recently travelled to Victoria to check a growing list of locations of interest.

The ministry said it was “actively monitoring” the situation but was not recommending closing NZ’s travel bubble with Victoria.

“The ministry’s current assessment is that the public health risk is appropriately managed through the actions taken by Victorian health authorities.”

The ministry also warned potential travellers that the situation could quickly change.

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