Covid-19 Australia: Weakness that could be ruining Victoria’s chances of leaving lockdown

As many as a third of all people who have been labelled as close contacts by the Victorian government are yet to be tested – prompting fears the state could be in for another long-term lockdown.

Thousands of fans at two major sporting events – the Carlton vs Geelong AFL game at the MCG on July 10 and the Wallabies vs France game at AAMI Park on July 13 – have been under strict isolation guidelines after being exposed to the virus. 

There are nearly 20,000 residents in a two-week quarantine after they were identified as being close contacts of positive cases from the games, but state mandate says they only need a negative test on day 13 to clear protocol.

Experts are calling this one-test rule a dangerous practice.

‘By day 13 it’s too late and that’s how you miss hidden chains of transmission,’ Epidemiology professor at Deakin University Catherine Bennett told The Age

As many as a third of all people who have been labelled close contacts by the Victorian government are yet to be tested (pictured: Wallabies vs France at AAMI Park on July 13)

As many as a third of all people who have been labelled close contacts by the Victorian government are yet to be tested (pictured: Wallabies vs France at AAMI Park on July 13)

Thousands of fans at two major sporting events including the Carlton vs Geelong AFL game at the MCG on July 10 have been under strict isolation guidelines after being exposed to the virus

Thousands of fans at two major sporting events including the Carlton vs Geelong AFL game at the MCG on July 10 have been under strict isolation guidelines after being exposed to the virus

Of the 3,500 fans exposed to the highly-infectious Indian delta strain at the AFL game, only 74 per cent have returned a negative result so far.

Just 67 per cent of the 2,648 fans at the Wallabies game who were labelled close contracts have returned a negative test, with Victorians concerned they could be facing another lockdown similar to its 112-day stay-at-home-order from 2020.

One of the new cases confirmed on Thursday had initially been in an area of AAMI Park classified as a Tier 2 exposure site and was allowed to leave isolation after testing negative.

The gate to his area was then increased to a Tier 1 exposure site, sending the Covid positive fan back into two-week isolation, where they tested positive. 

Professor Bennett said ‘it’s a major weakness’ in the state’s protocol that testing rates aren’t increasing and ‘quite extraordinary’ close contacts aren’t immediately told to be tested after being contacted – as is protocol in other states.

Another potential superspreader event, a Euros final watch party at the Crafty Squire in Melbourne’s CBD, has seen a quarter of fans fail to return a test. 

Covid-19 Response Commander Jeroen Weimar said officials are aware of every close contact and they will be ensuring they are following the state’s rules.

‘We know who these people are… We continue to chase them,’ he said on Thursday.

‘It’s entirely possible people would have been put off maybe two or three days ago by long testing queues.’ 

Victorians are concerned they could be facing another lockdown similar to its 112-day stay-at-home-order from 2020

Victorians are concerned they could be facing another lockdown similar to its 112-day stay-at-home-order from 2020

There were 900 people sent into two-week quarantine on Thursday after Prahan Market became a high-risk exposure site on Saturday morning

There were 900 people sent into two-week quarantine on Thursday after Prahan Market became a high-risk exposure site on Saturday morning

Victoria announced 26 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with only two cases infectious in the community.

The state’s health minister says the vast majority of the state’s 133 cases had been in isolation through their infectious period, with officials outwardly confident they can control the latest outbreak. 

There were 900 people sent into two-week quarantine on Thursday after Prahan Market became a high-risk exposure site on Saturday morning. 

Another person infectious in the community was made a close contact driving back to Melbourne from East Gippsland, stopping at a petrol station before heading home.

Source

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