/ 04 February 2021

Melbourne on edge – again

After going 28 days without a case of community transmission, COVID restrictions in Victoria have been reintroduced following the infection of a hallway monitor working in an Australian Open quarantine hotel. Doing his last shift at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne on 29 January, the 26yo developed symptoms and got tested yesterday. It will see up to 600 tennis players and officials go into isolation until they receive a negative test result. For the rest of the state, masks must now be worn in public indoor spaces, private indoor gatherings have been reduced to 15 people, and the lift in office worker numbers paused.

In a late-night press conference, Premier Daniel Andrews said that they were treating it like the man has the UK variant or another highly contagious strain of COVID – even though that has not been confirmed. With the big tennis tournament starting on Monday, it’s bad timing for those preparing to play. “I must say that is important to us, but the issues are much broader, and that is about public health and public safety,” Andrews said. It comes on top of another issue reported in Victoria yesterday – it looks like the highly contagious UK strain was transmitted between quarantine guests via the opening of a door. So, yes – the hotel quarantine system continues to vex officials as this pandemic rolls on.

Yeah, and the plot thickened in that case yesterday. The Perth quarantine hotel security guard who has the UK variant (you know, the case that plunged 2 million residents into lockdown this week) didn’t deliver medication to the room of an infected guest, WA Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed. But he was sitting about 3 metres away from the door of the person from whom authorities believe he contracted the virus. The case has prompted questions about why the guard wasn’t wearing a mask – something not required until this week. In good news: Western Oz had no new cases recorded again yesterday, so it’s on track to lift the lockdown tomorrow night.

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