Victoria has recorded 24 new locally-acquired cases of coronavirus as health authorities grow increasingly concerned over a cluster of mystery cases in Melbourne’s inner south-east.
Of the new cases, 18 were in quarantine, six were infectious in the community and four are mystery cases whose link to the growing outbreak are not yet known.
They were diagnosed from 39,832 tests and 27,173 vaccine doses were administered across Victoria on Tuesday.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley defended his government’s reasoning behind shutting down playgrounds but keeping childcare facilities open.
People living in parts of southeast Melbourne are urged to get tested as several mystery cases continue to cause concern for health authorities
Mr Foley revealed that more than a fifth of the state’s 246 active cases, 56 were aged nine or younger and 55 were aged between 10 and 19.
The health minister confirmed one of the new cases is a woman who had been involved in occasional sex work.
‘I stress there is no evidence of transmission having occurred because of this person’s occupation, but out of caution, we are asking if you have employed a sex worker in the St Kilda area you need to come forward and get tested,’ he said.
‘No matter where you are, you need to get forward and get tested.’
It remains unclear how the woman caught the virus but she is known not to have a fixed address and instead stays in boarding houses.
Health officials are currently trying to find out if the woman has been in contact with the 17 mystery cases recorded over the last five days.
Mr Foley said the woman was currently in quarantine and was receiving the ‘best possible care’.
The health minister said all of the residents in the facility the woman was staying has so far returned negative Covid-19 test results.
Meanwhile, anyone who lives or spends time in Glen Eira and Port Phillip local councils in southeast Melbourne were in particular urged to get tested.
Health officials said they should get tested not only if they had been to exposure sites, but if they had any symptoms or ‘even if they are unsure’.
Victorian health authorities are pleading for residents of southeast Melbourne to get tested for COVID-19 as the city’s mystery cases continue to grow
Health deputy secretary issued a stark warning to anyone who had been in the city’s south and south-east with more than 50 exposure sites stretching from South Melbourne to Brighton
Health Department deputy secretary Kate Matson issued a stark warning to anyone who had been in the city’s south and south-east with more than 50 exposure sites stretching from South Melbourne to Brighton.
‘These cases aren’t linked by age. They’re not linked by faith. They aren’t all in the same book club. They’re not all on the same footy club. The only thing they share is geographic proximity,’ she said Tuesday.
The five mystery cases in the beachside suburb of St Kilda are worrying Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who has insisted testing rates are currently too low.
‘We want to see more tests right across the area because it’s becoming a real concern for us,’ Professor Sutton said in Tuesday night’s coronavirus update.
‘We need more tests to track down unidentified chains of transmission and protect the whole local community.’
There are two other mystery cases, in Dandenong and Middle Park – people who both work in St Kilda but at unrelated buildings.
‘These cases got the virus from somewhere. The virus is circulating in those geographic areas,’ Ms Matson said.
‘We are concerned that there are cases here that we do not yet know about.’
Fears are mounting of Melbourne’s lockdown being extended with mystery cases continuing to pop up unlinked across the city and testing rates remaining low
The five mystery cases in the beachside suburb of St Kilda are worrying Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who has insisted testing rates are currently too low
Health authorities are asking all Victorians to continue to check exposure sites regularly as ‘they are subject to change based on follow-up interviews and further investigation’.
Melbourne is 13 days into its sixth lockdown, which was extended on Monday until September 2.
A 9pm to 5am curfew, which was in place during the state’s second wave, has been reintroduced, with playgrounds and other outdoor facilities closed and exercise limited to two people.
There are more cases linked to Glenroy West Public School and Al-Taqa College.
Three more positives have also come from the infamous St Kilda East engagement party, with a workplace contact of someone in attendance also contracting the virus.
Two bus routes have been listed as Tier 1 exposure sites in Altona, with anyone onboard at the times listed to get tested and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.
There was a positive case on the 903 bus between Ross Road/Millers Road and Altonta Station at 3:56pm on August 13 until 4:03pm.
The person then got back on the reverse route at 5:48pm and got off the bus at 5:55pm.
St Kilda has become ground-zero for the latest outbreak after the infamous engagement party that saw several attendees infected and spreading to co-workers
Officials are urging Melburnians to get tested as rates remain extremely low
American Fox News host Tucker Carlson has slammed Australian politicians for treating the nation like ‘peasants’ after Daniel Andrews banned citizens from removing their face mask to drink alcohol outdoors.
The right-wing firebrand said many of Australia’s hardline measures to curb the spread of Covid are not based on science, as he slammed the Victorian Premier for his latest round of draconian restrictions.
His tirade comes just days after fellow Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham ridiculed Sydney for its ongoing Covid lockdown which is now in its eighth week.
‘In case it’s not crystal clear by this point over a year and a half in, we have left the realm of science and we are just making things up to hurt people who may disagree with us,’ Carlson said of lockdown policies on Tuesday.
American Fox News host Tucker Carlson (right) has said Australia is being treated like ‘peasants’ after Dan Andrew’s (left) banned citizens from removing their face mask to drink alcohol outdoors
The city of Melbourne (pictured on Tuesday) is now in the midst of its sixth Covid lockdown with brutal rules impacting millions – including mandatory masks indoors and outdoors
‘The powerful are doing whatever they feel like in the name of science and public health because they can and because nobody is stopping them.
‘In Australia where there are no restraints at all it appears, the country has declared a state of martial law and now the ‘peasants’ of Australia have to find a way to drink alcohol through their face masks.
‘It’s funny because if you are going along with that, the joke’s on you.’
The cutting remarks come just 48 hours after the Victorian Premier imposed the drinking restrictions in response to a group of brazen revellers who flouted Melbourne’s lockdown to attend a street-party pub crawl.
There is little to no evidence of widespread Covid transmission outdoors, with outdoor exercise and a takeaway beverage heralded by many as a good way to keep morale high in lockdown.
Police are seen on patrol at Federation Square on Tuesday in Melbourne, Australia to enforce lockdown rules (pictured) as the city endures among the world’s strictest lockdowns
A gate to a playground is seen padlocked in Melbourne’s South Yarra on Tuesday (pictured) after outdoor recreation was banned to curb the spread of the Delta variant
An empty Chinatown precinct at night is seen prior to curfew commencing on Tuesday night (pictured) with Melburnians suffering through their sixth strict lockdown
But there have been numerous reports of large groups of friends meeting up outside in violation of lockdown rules to drink cocktails and beer on the city’s streets and parks.
More than 200 Melburnians flocked to inner-city Northcote on Sunday where they purchased alcohol from local businesses and started drinking on the street as rooftop DJs blared music from above.
Eventually the illegal gathering was shut down by police who issued 25 fines for breaching health orders.
The following day Mr Andrews announced a crackdown on drinking alcohol outdoors with 22 locally-acquired Covid cases on Monday and 24 transmissions on Tuesday.
An empty tram is seen prior to curfew commencing on Tuesday night in Melbourne (pictured), with the harsh restrictions drawing condemnation from many overseas pundits
The Peacock Inn Hotel (pictured) has denied any involvement after large groups were seen gathering outside the currently closed premises on Sunday
‘There will be no removal of masks to consume alcohol outdoors,’ he said.
‘So you will no longer be able to remove your mask to drink a cocktail at a pop-up beer garden on a footpath as part of a pub crawl.
But the US cable TV giant wasn’t the only one poking fun at the unexpected Covid law.
England cricket legend Kevin Pietersen tagged Melburnian spin king Shane Warne in a tweet calling Mr Andrews an ‘absolute clown’.
England cricket legend Kevin Pietersen tagged Melburnian spin king Shane Warne in a Tweet calling Mr Andrews (pictured) an ‘absolute clown’
Criticising Australia’s lockdown measures has become a popular topic for freedom-loving Fox News hosts of late. Pictured: Carlson discusses ‘Populism and the Right’ during the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit in Washington
Carlson smirked as he said the alcohol rule is ‘not the craziest thing going on in Australia right now,’ as he took aim at another of Melbourne’s draconian laws brought in to stem the flow of cases.
‘The city of Melbourne just announced that if you live in a larger household such as a share-house, or with an extended family, you can no longer exercise with all members of your household,’ he said.
The outspoken host went on to claim the restriction is not based on science because exercise may help alleviate Covid as obesity is the second most significant comorbidity factor after age.
Criticising Australia’s lockdown measures has become a popular topic for Fox News hosts of late.
She called the restrictions ‘insane’ and questioned why millions of Sydneysiders are forced to stay inside over a ‘0.004 case-to-population ratio’.
‘It’s been seven weeks of lockdown in Sydney, Australia and they’re still keeping the vice grip on the population,’ the TV host said during a news segment on Thursday.
But her comments sparked fury, with Aussies flocking online to call out the dire situation in Ingraham’s own country.
Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham ridiculed the drastic stay-at-home orders that have been enforced across the New South Wales capital for two months
‘Australia has had 958 Covid deaths, America has had 637,561. Ingraham clearly does not value human life,’ one man wrote.
‘Why don’t you just discuss your own nation’s embarrassing Covid outcomes,’ another Tweeted.
‘We take Covid deaths seriously in Australia.’
‘We are doing just fine without your rhetoric, thanks. The difference here is that we pull together as a nation,’ someone else said.
‘What happens in Australia is really none of your business. At least the Australian population choose health over death,’ a fourth posted.
Ms Ingraham delivered her attack on the same day Sydney recorded 345 new Covid cases, up from 344 a day earlier.
Outraged Aussies have flocked online to remind the US TV presenter the Covid fatality rate is far higher in the United States. Pictured: Medical staff members treat a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease in Texas
The news anchor held back her laughter as she poked fun at the ‘whopping’ rise in cases and mocked the state government’s reaction to keeping the city locked down.
‘The population of New South Wales: 8.2 million,’ Ingraham said.
‘Meaning a case-to-population ratio of .004 per cent. They locked down for that.’
She then turned her attention to Canberra, calling the city ‘insane’ after the Australian capital announced it would enforce a seven-day lockdown.
The decision came after the city recorded its first Covid-19 case in a year.
‘The capital city has a population of 400,000. They have just entered a snap lockdown over one case. A single case,’ Ms Ingraham said before breaking into laughter.
Ingraham invited George Christensen, a Liberal-National MP for Dawson on the north Queensland coast, onto her show to discuss Australia’s lockdown.
Ingraham delivered her attack on the same day Sydney recorded 345 new cases, up from 344 a day earlier (pictured, police patrolling Bondi on Monday)
One man pointed out fatalities in America were in the hundreds of thousands, while Australia was yet to hit a thousand deaths
‘We are suffering from what is pandemic policy insanity in this country,’ the divisive MP said.
‘The city of Canberra, which I’m currently in – one single case and the entire 400,000-plus population moved into lockdown.
‘This is happening across every inch of this country. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, over in Perth. … We are locking down because someone sneezes, quite frankly. And worse than that, we have state borders that are shutting as well.
‘I fear that there is too much fear about this virus.’
Footage of the news segment was uploaded to Twitter where social media users were quick to defend the restrictions in Australia.
‘The reason they have minimal cases is they react strongly when they get some,’ one person wrote.
‘The thing about contagious disease is it’s way easier to contain before it’s widespread.’
Ms Ingraham delivered her attack on the same day Sydney recorded 345 new cases, up from 344 a day earlier
The news anchor held back her laughter as she poked fun at the ‘whopping’ rise in cases and mocked the state government’s reaction to keeping the city locked down (pictured, Sydneysiders enjoy the sun over the weekend)
Another person added: ‘Ingraham laughs that a town went into lockdown for a ‘single case’. How do people still not understand that the one person probably spread it to others by now who don’t know it?’
‘It’s called being asymptomatic. Where’s the line we should go into lockdown at then?’
The U.S. is currently seeing an average of about 129,000 new infections a day – a 700 per cent increase from the beginning of July.
Fears have been raised that the number could jump in the next couple weeks to 200,000 – a level not seen since among the pandemic’s worst days in January and February.
Here’s all you need to know about the new restrictions in Melbourne
How will this curfew work?
A 9pm to 5am curfew takes effect from 11.59pm tonight in metropolitan Melbourne but the Premier asked people to observe it from this evening.
There would be Increased police presence on Melbourne streets to enforce the restrictions, the Premier said at Monday’s update.
Residents will be required to obtain a permit for authorised work allowing them to leave their homes during the curfew period.
Authorised workers will need to carry the permits while travelling to and from work, and when at work. Permits need to be certified by the person’s employer.
Permits are available from the Victorian government’s coronavirus site.
Higher education students on the Authorised Provider list will also need to carry permits.
Dr Sutton said permits would not be required for another 24 hours.
There remain only five other reasons to leave home – shopping for essentials (one person per household per day), care an caregiving, exercise, authorised work and study, and to receive a vaccine.
Shopping and exercise remain limited to within 5km of a person’s home.
There is increased police presence on Melbourne streets to enforce the restrictions, after the Premier announced a crackdown on rule-breakers (pictured, police patrol the locked down city)
People queue up for a Covid test at a pop-up test site at the St Kilda Town Hall in Melbourne (pictured)
Are there changes to exercise rules?
Playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks and exercise equipment will be closed to the public to reduce the possibility of transmission events.
Exercise is further restricted to an individual and one other person, for up to two hours. Dependents can be included if they can’t be left unattended.
The other person can be from another household.
The change means those in large households will no longer be able to all exercise together.
People will no longer be able to remove masks in order to drink alcohol.
‘You will no longer be able to remove your mask to drink a cocktail at a pop-up beer garden on a footpath as part of a pub crawl,’ Mr Andrews said.
Masks must continue to be carried at all time and worn indoors and outdoors, except if at home or when visiting an intimate partner’s place of residence.
Melburnians in the midst of their sixth Covid lockdown now face even harsher restrictions with controversial curfew laws back in place as of Tuesday night, despite virus experts and even the police union speaking out against the move (pictured, Flinders Street Station on Monday)
Changes for construction sites
Large scale construction sites must now cut down their staff on site to 25 per cent. Smaller projects would be limited to five people on site.
Additional restrictions would also come into effect in relation to movement between sites where tradespeople work multiple sites.
Religious gatherings and ceremonies
No in-person gatherings are permitted. Broadcasts are of these gatherings are permitted with five people, but the same five people must be involved in producing the broadcast.
Schools will remain closed. Dr Sutton said on Monday of a possible return to school by September 2: ‘We will preferentially look to Year 11 and 12 students getting back [in classrooms] because of their particular needs.’