In deciding what kind of reopening announcement can be made tomorrow in the wake of COVID-19, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the next 24 hours of test results from outbreaks around the north of Melbourne will be crucial.
Since yesterday, Victoria has registered seven new cases of coronavirus and no additional deaths, and the 14-day rolling case average is now five in metropolitan Melbourne and 0.2 in regional Victoria. The two-week number of cases with an undisclosed cause, or “mystery cases” in Melbourne, stays at 10.
In the Preston area in the north of Melbourne, four cases were identified, including a student at East Preston Islamic College. An individual who has tested positive in the past, one of the new cases, is still under investigation because it may be either reinfection or someone shedding old virus remnants.
In metropolitan Melbourne, all seven cases were registered. After a grade five student who attended classes on Monday and Tuesday tested positive for COVID-19, East Preston Islamic College closed temporarily last week.
In the past week, hundreds of close contacts in the northern suburbs of Melbourne were requested to self-isolate, and more than 6,500 coronavirus tests were performed.
Mr. Andrews said that tomorrow there will still be an update on the next step of lifting restrictions, but cautioned people against “banking” on a “whole series of comprehensive opening announcements.”
We do hope to get to that point, but we need to see the results of those studies, with so many thousands of studies that are still being processed, he said. We will almost certainly get more cases out of these separate outbreaks, tomorrow and Monday, and during the week, the main point will be,’ are they connected?’
If there are no connections, if they are not linked in any way, then that points to the fact that there might be more viruses than we would be comfortable within that northern part of the city.
It also speaks directly to the fact that opening up will see case numbers erupt if that is the case. We have … been in this position before in certain ways, and we have to do whatever we can to stop that.
The Premier claimed that “data and facts and research” will direct the next steps. We are all hopeful that we will be able to tell things that are good, he said.
But it is a note of caution that we need to be directed by that, with so much knowledge yet to come to us. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he was “very sure” that the active cases related to the outbreak would be monitored by the authorities.
But as the Premier spoke, it is those instances that may be unrelated, that may be caused by very significant research, that will require special consideration, and that will obviously be reflected in how we think about constraints as well, he said.
Mr. Andrews said he had met this morning over Zoom with a variety of community and faith leaders from Melbourne’s inner-northern suburbs.
Families and staff at East Preston Islamic College and Croxton School are advised by health authorities to get screened immediately, even though they do not have any symptoms.
Testing sites have been set up around Melbourne’s northern suburbs, and from today, a drive-through testing center will be at the Islamic College of East Preston. There have now been 98 active cases in the state, Mr. Andrews said, the first time that number has been below 100 since June 19.