Rolling coverage: Hot hotel evacuated; what could trigger end of lockdown

Victoria has recorded four new cases of coronavirus. And in another blow to Victoria’s besieged quarantine program, a “hot hotel” and its COVID-infected residents are set to be evacuated.

Nearly 24,000 tests were received on Monday. There are currently 25 active cases in Victoria.

And a coronavirus hot hotel will be evacuated on Tuesday after a sprinkler system was activated over the weekend, causing damage.

Thirty-one residents will be transferred from the Holiday Inn on Flinders Lane to the Pullman at Albert Park, a COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) spokesperson confirmed.

“Residents at the Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders are being transferred to an alternate health hotel today (Tuesday), while repairs for water damage are completed,” the spokesperson said.

“Strict infection prevention and control (IPC) measures will be followed during the transfer to ensure the health and safety of residents, staff and the community.”

The spokesperson said the Pullman, which previously housed international arrivals for the Australian Open, had been assessed by experts to ensure suitable ventilation “to accommodate symptomatic and positive residents.”

All staff will also be transferred to the new site.

The Holiday Inn on Flinders Lane in Melbourne.
Camera IconThe Holiday Inn on Flinders Lane in Melbourne. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire/Daniel Pockett

MORE EXPOSURE SITES ADDED IN BROADMEADOWS

A fruit shop and a bakery are the latest additions to Victoria’s growing list of public coronavirus exposure sites.

Sacca’s Fruit World and BonBon Bakery, both in Broadmeadows Central shopping centre, were added to the list of tier one exposure sites on Monday night.

A confirmed cases of COVID-19 visited the bakery from 12.30pm to 12.45pm on February 9 and the fruit shop from 12.30pm to 1pm.

The state’s health department said anyone who visited the stores during the same period is required to immediately isolate, get tested and remain isolated for 14 days.

The health department also added the west side of Broadmeadows Central shopping centre, the fresh fruit and meat section, as a tier three exposure site after the visit from the positive case.

Anyone who has visited a tier three exposure site should monitor for symptoms and get tested and isolate if they develop.

The health department also clarified the advice for Melbourne’s iconic Queen Victoria Market.

The confirmed case shopped at sheds A and B – also known as section two, fruit and vegetables – and used the female toilets next to shed A on February 11 between 8.25am and 10.10am.

Anyone who visited this section of the market during the same period is required to immediately isolate, get tested and remain isolated for 14 days.

WHAT COULD TRIGGER END OF LOCKDOWN

Three hospitals have been forced into lockdown as authorities refuse to rule out an extension to Victoria’s five-day circuit breaker shutdown.

Psychiatric units at The Alfred hospital, Broadmeadows Hospital and the Northern Hospital in Epping went into lockdown after a female employee returned a “weak positive” for coronavirus.

The woman and her three-year-old child, who has also tested positive, attended a family event on a Sydney Road, Coburg, with an infected hotel quarantine worker.

The woman subsequently returned both negative and weak positive results but was ultimately deemed a positive case out of caution.

The case was the state’s only new locally acquired case on Monday, and one new case inside hotel quarantine took Victoria’s active case count to 21.

Daniel Andrews said while the numbers were positive, it was too soon to say whether restrictions would be eased on Wednesday night as ­planned.

“However, I’ve never been one to try to make bold predictions, we just have to take this one hour at a time, one day at a time,” the Premier said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the decision to ease restrictions won’t just be about case numbers. .
Camera IconVictorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the decision to ease restrictions won’t just be about case numbers. . Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

“But I think this is a promising start, these last three days, and I am proud of all Victorians for the hard work that they’ve put in.”

Mr Andrews said he reserved the right to impose further restrictions based on public health advice.

“You have to assume, just like epidemiologists, public health experts and political leaders across the globe, you have to assume there are more cases out there than you know about because if you assume otherwise, and you are proven wrong, then there is no going back,” he said.

“There is no do-over, you don’t get to go: ‘Well, I just get to rewind these few weeks and make the decision officials told me to make, that I refuse to make.’”

The Premier refused to detail the public health advice that would ease restrictions, but said it wasn’t just about case numbers.

Workers are seen cleaning an empty Victoria Market which was declared a exposure site.
Camera IconWorkers are seen cleaning an empty Victoria Market which was declared a exposure site. Credit: News Corp Australia
People queue for Covid tests in Coburg.
Camera IconPeople queue for Covid tests in Coburg. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

“The individual circumstances of each case have always been very important to us and they become even more important in circumstances like this,” he said.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said authorities were concerned about the infectiousness of the British strain, that was at least 34 per cent more infectious than the original strain.

“So there is an absolute need for a precautionary approach in that regard,” he said.

Both Mr Andrews and Prof Sutton said it was too soon to say whether or not students would be free to return to school this week.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the lockdown made no sense if the government was confident in its contact tracing scheme.

“Victorians are sick and tired of the spin, sick and tired of being lied to, and sick and tired of knee jerk reactions,” he said.

PERTH DECLARED GREEN ZONE

Perth has been declared a green zone according to Victoria’s traffic light permit system.

The Department of Health updated its classification on Monday night for Perth, Peel and the south-west region of Western Australia.

The region had been under a five-day snap lockdown, which was lifted on February 5.

SUTTON DEFENDS SNAP LOCKDOWN

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the snap lockdown was not an over-reaction.

“Nobody wants this, nobody wants to go through this if it’s not required,” he said on ABC radio on Monday night.

“The alternative is what we’re needing to avoid, the alternative of out of control transmission, which would lead to restrictions and cases that persist for weeks and weeks if not months. So we have to be precautionary and we have to stamp it out. We’ve seen reactions that could have been called over-reactions across Australia and we don’t know how it might have gone had the reactions not occurred.”

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
Camera IconVictoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton. Credit: News Corp Australia

Professor Sutton said it was “looking good” in terms of bringing the Holiday Inn outbreak to a halt.

But he said there was a “reasonable likelihood” of further cases.

“We’re hoping that all of those occur in people that have already been identified, already been quarantined and would not generate any further exposure sites, I think that’s the critical thing that we don’t want new cases to emerge and we hear that they’ve been to multiple public areas or gatherings.”

He said the reason Victoria’s public health team recommended putting the state into lockdown was because of the spread of the UK variant and how fast it was moving.

He said it was difficult to compare the response to New South Wales’ handling of the virus because their situation was different.

“They haven’t had a cluster emerge like this, they haven’t had a variant of concern out in the community,” he said.

Federation Square is deserted during the current COVID lockdown.
Camera IconFederation Square is deserted during the current COVID lockdown. Credit: News Corp Australia, NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw