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Local News - Victoria

Al-Taqwa College parents receive few answers about how school became the biggest COVID-19 cluster


Victorian health authorities believe the virus was brought into the school by a teacher who had an extended family gathering attended by a COVID-19-positive person. The teacher was at school for two days while infected.

But that is all the school community and the wider public have been told. Communication about the outbreak from the college’s administration and Victorian health authorities has been slow and, in some cases, ambiguous.

“The school doesn’t tell the parents information and that’s not right. The public need to know how it has happened. I pay a lot of money to Al-Taqwa and it is not good enough,” one parent told The Age.

Some teachers say they have been instructed not to talk to anyone about the virus outbreak. And it took more than a week for Al-Taqwa principal Omar Hallak to comment. He eventually put out a statement defending the school’s hygiene and distancing procedures, adding the school had spent $100,000 during the holidays on cleaning.

He has not responded to further questions from The Age this week.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services wrote to Al-Taqwa staff to assure them it was working “to contain” the spread of the virus. That the letter came just two days before the vast majority of the Islamic school’s 2300 staff and students came out of 14-day quarantine left some recipients puzzled.

Staff were also perplexed by the department’s position on return-to-school procedures. In the letter, it recommended staff and students bring with them to school proof they had recovered from the virus or had tested negative. Many believe this should be a mandatory requirement.

Al-Taqwa College principal Omar Hallak.

Al-Taqwa College principal Omar Hallak.

One possible explanation for the rapid transmission of COVID-19 throughout the school is the sheer number of students and staff who attend. Ensuring so many children and adolescents adhered to social distancing would be almost impossible.

“I personally saw there were [sic] no social distancing was practised when picking up kids. There are notice boards in place opposite the main office area saying parents are not allowed for the area where the palm tree is but each day the parents were freely allowed to walk, sit and wait and nobody was there to stop or question any parents,” Razeen Musthafa wrote on the college’s Facebook page.

“What is the point of having notice boards and sending messages in school box about all these great things you guys do when nothing was practised in real [sic]. When these basic things were ignored how can we feel confident about things inside?”

Another parent told The Age she knew some families at the school had been gathering on weekends in numbers far greater than the five allowed inside a home and 10 outdoors following new restrictions announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on June 20.

Several parents also complained about the state of the toilets at the school, claiming their children refused to use them because they were dirty and lacked soap. In response, the school administration acknowledged the toilets needed attention.

The Al-Taqwa outbreak took another twist on Thursday when Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, confirmed an “epidemiological link” to infections in public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne.

“The communities do cross over between Truganina and these towers,” Professor Sutton said on Thursday.

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Some children from the tower precincts are bussed each day to Al-Taqwa. Despite revealing the link, Professor Sutton cautioned that there were likely many causes for the outbreaks in the towers.

On the school’s Facebook page, many parents are urging its leadership to keep the school closed until the virus spread is under control. Others, though, are philosophical.

“Let’s not forget what our religion teaches us. What Allah has planned for us no one can stop it.”

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Four staff test positive to COVID-19 in aged care home outbreak


Leading Aged Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said the number of aged care homes with infections was increasing. “The clear and present danger persists,” Mr Rooney said. “This is a matter of life and death.”

He said visitors to residential care services must take personal responsibility and carefully comply with local rules introduced to protect their loved ones in residential care.

“This includes enhanced protections for residents and staff, including limiting visitations,” he said.

Glendale said four of its employees had tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday night.

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None of them has been identified as a close contact of the 90-year-old resident, who returned a positive test after being admitted to hospital on July 6. The man continued to receive treatment in hospital.

It was unclear whether the staff members had contracted the virus while working at Glendale.

Mr Hancock said while no aged care provider wanted to be in this situation, Glendale had been planning for this scenario for months and was as prepared as it could be.

He said all residents were in their rooms, the home was closed to visitors until further notice and staff were instructed not to enter any other aged care homes.

“Given the scale of testing we have undertaken, we need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that we may receive more positive test results.”

Jemaina Santos, whose 92-year-old mother-in-law Emma Kotsakis is at Glendale, said the aged care home was a nice place.

The Santos family with Emma Kotsakis, who lives at Glendale Aged Care.

The Santos family with Emma Kotsakis, who lives at Glendale Aged Care.

“I can’t blame them for what’s happened. This is the first time something like this has happened and everyone is struggling to cope.”

When Ms Santos heard on the news that a resident of Glendale had been diagnosed with COVID-19 this week she panicked. “I called Glendale and it was so hard to get through – the phone line was jammed,” she said.

Ms Santos and her husband Sonny – Ms Kotsakis’ youngest son – are not the primary contact for the aged care centre and when Ms Santos finally got through, she could not get confirmation of who had been infected. “It was a bit of an uneasy situation.”

The Santos family. Their mother and grandmother, Emma Kotsakis, is a resident of Glendale.

The Santos family. Their mother and grandmother, Emma Kotsakis, is a resident of Glendale.Credit:Joe Armao

Before the pandemic Mr and Ms Santos and their sons, PJ and Aron, used to visit Ms Kotsakis at Glendale every Sunday after church.

“We miss her terribly,” Ms Santos said. “Everyone loves her – even in the centre, staff would say she is very lovely and doesn’t complain.”

The family is close: Ms Kotsakis lived with them for 15 years in both the Philippines and Australia.

“I used to say I married her as well,” Ms Santos said. “It was a joy having her, she looked after my children, she helped us financially.”

She is worried about Ms Kotsakis and has requested a zoom call with her. “My mother-in-law is vulnerable – everyone there is vulnerable. It’s very hard.”

Meanwhile, aged care provider Benetas said it had made the “difficult” decision to temporarily restrict visitor access to all nine of its aged care homes in metropolitan Melbourne.

A staff member who worked at one of its homes – St George’s in Altona Meadows- tested positive on July 7.

For the next six weeks only essential personnel including key staff, health care providers, caterers and cleaners would be able to access the centres.

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“Given the significantly heightened risk of community transmission across metropolitan Melbourne we believe this is an important preventative measure to protect the health of those in our care,” CEO Sanda Hills said in a statement.

Benetas said before reimposing visitor restrictions on July 8 it had spoken to more than 250 residents, with 84 per cent supporting the decision.

“Benetas understands however that not being able to see a loved one is very difficult and its disappointing for everyone that we are in this position.”

However, Council of the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said blanket visitor bans in situations where there were no coronavirus cases were in breach of the national industry code for visiting residential aged care homes during COVID-19.

“We are getting a growing number of complaints where people are getting no notice, no information and no indication of when the situation would be reviewed,” he said.

Mr Yates said aged care centres should continue to allow compassionate visits if a resident was at the end of their life or a family member was playing a vital role in their physical or mental health, such as feeding them every day.

Dr Sarah Russell, the director of Aged Care Matters, said it was reasonable for aged care homes where there had been a positive COVID test to be locked down while all residents were tested.

“It is not reasonable for other aged care homes in Melbourne to be locked down,” she said.

“Lockdown regulations allow families to provide caring duties for older relatives living in the community. They should also be allowed to continue to provide caring duties for older people living in aged care homes.”

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Business

WA miners see off more dirt than ever despite COVID-19 pandemic


Pilbara Ports Authority has broken its annual throughput record, despite the coronavirus pandemic throwing global supply chains into disarray.

According to figures released on Thursday, the authority saw off 717.3 million tonnes of product in the 2019-20 financial year, an increase of 19.9 million tonnes, or 3 per cent, compared to the previous year – and a new record.

Pilbara ports recorded a record throughput in the 2019-20 year.

Pilbara ports recorded a record throughput in the 2019-20 year.Credit:REUTERS

Much of that was driven by growing exports of iron ore, even during pandemic months.

In June, the authority achieved a new record of 68.2 million tonnes of throughput; 63.8 million tonnes of that was iron ore.



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Local News - Victoria

Hospital surge plans dumped as COVID-19 spreads


The rise in cases comes as The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald learnt that major orders for ventilators, defibrillators and intensive care monitors – often based on the worst-case scenario – have been cancelled or renegotiated, and may now need to be revised following the spike in cases.

More than 3000 intensive care monitors were ordered in April, before the consignment was significantly reduced after protracted negotiations with the manufacturer, according to a government source who was not authorised to comment publicly.

Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait said he was extremely concerned by the rise in infections in hospitals and aged care homes.

Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait said he was extremely concerned by the rise in infections in hospitals and aged care homes.Credit:Justin McManus

Health Purchasing Victoria had wanted fewer than 1000 of the monitors, before eventually agreeing to take about 2000.

Plans to buy hundreds of defibrillators from overseas never proceeded after Victoria managed to flatten the curve in April.

A proposal for a 750-bed intensive care facility at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was also quietly shelved.

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Melbourne City Council had entered a joint venture with Lendlease to transform the building known as Jeff’s Shed, with plans to expand the facility to 2000 beds if the crisis deepened. It is unknown if a commercial agreement was made with Lendlease, or whether it received compensation when the project was cancelled.

A Lendlease spokeswoman said it had “no current agreements or works in place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre”.

Brunswick Private Hospital in Melbourne’s inner north remains closed for new admissions after four patients and a healthcare worker tested positive to the virus on Wednesday.

Contact tracing is also under way after outbreaks in four Melbourne aged care homes in 24 hours.

A Mercy Health aged care worker who provides services to elderly residents in their homes was also among the new cases of coronavirus reported in Victoria and was isolating at home.

Mercy Health said the worker had no symptoms prior to testing. It was working with government contact-tracers to identify who else might be at risk.

A staff member at the Doutta Galla Lynch’s Bridge nursing home in Kensington may have unknowingly exposed elderly residents to the virus after attending work on July 2 and 3 while infectious.

A resident has tested positive at the Glendale Aged Care facility in Werribee in the city’s west, while a staff member who worked at the Uniting AgeWell facility in Preston has also tested positive.

Uniting AgeWell said in a statement about coronavirus on its website that it had implemented a “robust pandemic plan and infection control protocols”, was following the advice of state and federal governments and had set up a COVID-19 taskforce of senior executives and managers.

An employee at Baptcare Karana age care facility in Kew has been infected, but the Health Department said they did not work while infectious.

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A doctor at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital tested positive, sending 15 staff into quarantine after potential exposure, while a rehabilitation patient at the Epworth Hospital in Hawthorn was also infected with the virus.

Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait said he was extremely concerned by the spike in infections in hospitals and aged care homes.

A cluster at the Northern Hospital’s emergency department in Epping, which emerged last week, has infected nine staff so far.

Associate Professor Rait said he was particularly troubled by the cluster at Brunswick Private Hospital, which provides rehab services for a large cohort of vulnerable and immuno-compromised patients.

In a statement, Brunswick Private Hospital said staff had acted “appropriately and with immediacy”.

“Hospital management is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Health Unit for contact-tracing and overall COVID-19 management,” the statement said.

“As a precautionary measure … Brunswick Private Hospital patient admissions and visitor access has ceased until further notice.”

As fresh figures reveal Victoria is braced to hit a record 1000 active cases this week, Professor Rait said it was critical hospitals considered bringing in the mandatory use of surgical masks in clinical areas at all times.

Under new advice, staff in clinical areas are now required to wear a mask at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Northern Hospital, the Austin and The Alfred to protect healthcare workers and patients.

“This is something every metropolitan hospital in Melbourne should be thinking about implementing,” Professor Rait said. “Not just healthcare workers, but all guests and visitors should also be required to wear masks.”

He said the “gold standard model” was Western Health, which had introduced even more stringent precautions for three of its main hospitals, including Footscray, requiring all staff to wear masks and a face shield, even if they don’t work with patients.

Two nurses who attended a group training session at the Royal Melbourne Hospital have also been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, at least one nurse at The Alfred hospital has tested positive this week, while four Victorian paramedics have been infected and are in isolation.

A spokesman for the Epworth Hospital said its pandemic planning had prepared for the scenario of a patient becoming infected and “immediately triggered its internal response team to ensure our patients were cared for and that contact tracing and identification of potential exposures in the rehabilitation centre took place”.

Glendale Aged Care facility and the Department of Health and Human Services have been contacted for comment.

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Australian News

Sewage tested for COVID-19 traces


Analysing wastewater is a “really good indicator of illness” and could be used to detect COVID-19 in communities before infections are diagnosed in clinics, health experts say. 

Lead researcher Dr Aparna La, from the Australian National University Research School of Population Health, spoke to The Briefing Podcast on PodcastOne Australia on Wednesday. 

She told hosts Tom Tilley and Annika Smethurst her team had taken daily samples of wastewater from the Lower Molonglo sewage treatment plant, “looking at Canberra as a whole”.

She said the “quite established method” is used worldwide to analyse the use of antibiotics and opioids in communities, and had been used in The Netherlands to detect coronavirus in the sewage before clinical infections were diagnosed.

“It’s a really good indicator of who is sick,” she said.

Dr La said “in no way is sewage testing going to replace nasal swabs” but it is an “additional tool” that can be used to support such methods.

Almost three million COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Australia. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Dr La said they started collecting samples from the end of April.

“The results that we just released show no detection of the virus in all samples that we took from May,” she said. 

“So this period, I guess, coincided with a period when there were no new coronavirus cases in the ACT either.

“In my view, these are really excellent outcomes because it kind of supports what we already knew and it reassures the community and the health authority that there were no high levels of undetected community transmission, which is one of the things that sewage can be really good for.”

She said they subjected the samples to advanced genetic testing to make sure the process worked, picking up “other RNA viruses” but no sign of COVID-19. 

“Now that we know that the method works, what we are working on is making it more sensitive and making it a lot faster than it currently is,” Dr La said.

“But because our samples coincided with a period of no coronavirus cases in the ACT, at this stage we can’t say how much virus in the sewage would equal to how many infections in the community.

“There are, at the moment, different groups doing it in different parts of the country so it would be really good for us to come together and set up a standardised, national sort of monitoring protocol using sewage.”

There were three new cases detected in the ACT on Wednesday after a month without any new infections. They are all linked to the coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne. 





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Local News - Victoria

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne doctor tests positive to COVID-19


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An outbreak at the Northern Hospital in Epping was first revealed last Friday. By Tuesday, nine staff linked to the emergency department had tested positive.

Dr John Bonning, president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, said he was “deeply concerned” and seeking further information on the recent rise in infections among healthcare workers.

“It is our strong view that frontline staff must be involved in decision-making processes as part of ongoing hospital and healthcare system responses to this fast-moving and dynamic situation,” he said.

“Any case of healthcare workers contracting COVID-19 is deeply concerning and our thoughts are with affected colleagues in Victoria, who are doing an incredible job under very difficult circumstances.”

Medical staff at the Royal Melbourne Hospital are also concerned about their risk of contracting the virus after two nurses who attended a group training session for the hospital’s new digital record system tested positive.

The hospital’s chief executive Christine Kilpatrick wrote to staff on Monday to advise them the hospital was working with the Health Department “to implement all appropriate measures, including contact tracing and cleaning” after the link to the training sessions was made.

At least one nurse at The Alfred hospital also tested positive to the virus this week.

Two Victorian paramedics have also contracted the virus and are currently in isolation, with contact tracing under way.

Ambulance Victoria chief executive Tony Walker said paramedics wear personal protective equipment, like face masks and gloves, to every case to protect patients and themselves.

“We take every precaution to minimise the rate of infection among our frontline workforce and we remind the community of their vital role in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

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Front-line staff and some visitors to Melbourne’s largest hospitals will now have to wear surgical masks at all times, as extra precautions are put in place to protect doctors, nurses and patients from coronavirus.

Staff in all clinical areas at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville, the Northern Hospital in Epping, the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg and The Alfred in Melbourne have now been advised to wear masks.

Western Health has introduced even more stringent precautions for three of its main hospitals, including Footscray Hospital, requiring all staff to wear masks and a face shield, even if they don’t work with patients.

Many of Victoria’s hospitals had gone weeks or months without treating any patients with COVID-19, after discharging their final patients from the first surge of the disease in the state.

Less than a month ago, on June 12, the number of COVID-19 patients in Victorian hospitals dipped to five, when just one person was in intensive care.

However, 41 patients with the virus were in hospital on Wednesday morning, including seven in intensive care.

with Aisha Dow

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Health Minister Greg Hunt admits return of COVID-19 ‘greater than expected’


Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has admitted the recent outbreak of coronavirus cases in Victoria is “on a scale that is greater than what was expected” and blamed “double standards” over Black Lives Matter protests for the state’s recent spike.

Mr Hunt appeared on Nine’s A Current Affair alongside host Tracy Grimshaw on Tuesday night along with an appearance on Chris Kenny’s The Kenny Report on Sky News , in which he pointed the finger largely at “breaches” in hotel quarantine.

RELATED: Melbourne hit with six-week lockdown

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It came a day before stay-at-home orders and stage three restrictions were announced for metropolitan Melbourne in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown will last for six weeks.

Meanwhile Victorians will be physically blocked from entering NSW as the state’s second wave of COVID-19 mounts.

“This is more significant than anybody had anticipated, the extent of the breach, the scope of the breach from hotel quarantine, and the impact has had a profound effect on Victorians,” Mr Hunt said on A Current Affair.

“What we are facing now, the response we had planned for, unfortunately, is on a scale that is greater than was expected.”

Mr Hunt warned that across the country, “it’s Victoria now. It could be any one. We’re going to have to live with this virus for as long while”.

Yet in his interview with Sky News, Mr Hunt coupled blame on hotel breaches with attitudes after the recent Black Lives Matters protests in the state.

“Coupled with the hotel quarantine breaches, there were a small number of people who felt that once the protests had occurred, then ‘gosh if it’s okay for ten-thousand people to get together, then surely it’s okay for ten,” the minister told host Chris Kenny.

“The sense of a double standard was quite strong, and there was a clear mood against that as a result”.

“The Prime Minister, myself … we were absolutely crystal clear about all of those public gatherings all around the country in relation to any thing that was breaching the standards.

“It was particularly risky in Victoria, because of the underlying community transmission which had not been fully suppressed here.

“It wasn’t in the position as some of the other states so it was an additional risk in terms of the messaging and the behaviours that some took from it as a result.”

Both appearances came with warnings that difficult and challenging times lie ahead for Victoria. Mr Hunt warned viewers the severe uptick in Victoria “show how dangerous and deadly the disease is and how contagious it is”.

Greater Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will enter a six-week lockdown at midnight Wednesday, after the state recorded the biggest daily increase the state has seen throughout the whole pandemic.

Victorian health authorities confirmed another 191 cases were recorded overnight, bringing the state’s total to 2824 after 27 previous cases were reclassified.

Mr Hunt’s comments echoed Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton who said residents have got “six very difficult weeks ahead of us”.

“It’s going to be a difficult six weeks, but we’re going to fight,” Mr Hunt said.

“We’re in a stronger state than we were, but we have to confront a very significant outbreak.”

The blame for Victoria’s surprising rise lay mainly with hotel quarantine, according to Hunt, who said there had been “real and significant breaches” within the Victorian system.

He said those breaches have caused “major consequences, enormous consequences”.

“Certainly, a hotel quarantine breach is an avoidable breach. We have been able to successfully implement that in seven out of eight states and territories, they have done a remarkable job right around the country.

“The Victorian government has acknowledged that this was a breach that could and should have been prevented, (by announcing a) judicial inquiry. We are not here to criticise, our job is to support and make it clear that we’re providing additional military support.”

Mr Hunt told Sky News Prime Minister Scott Morrison had authorised an additional 260 defence force personnel to assist in general virus duties and up to 500 personnel to assist with border restrictions in NSW.

When pressed by Grimshaw as to why authorities waited until midnight on Wednesday to begin a lockdown process, Mr Hunt replied: “That is a question for the Victorian government. Our view is that these are unfortunately necessary actions.

“People need time to adjust and they need to be able to revise plans, and that is what’s occurring.”

Last week, new lockdown restrictions came into effect for 10 postcodes across Melbourne, with residents only allowed to leave their homes for work or school, care or care giving, exercise or buying food and essentials.

On Saturday two additional postcodes, 3031 and 3051, were also placed under lockdown.

Residents in nine public housing towers in the city have also been placed on a “hard lockdown” and ordered to stay in their homes.

In announcing the lockdown of metropolitan areas, Mr Andrews told reporters Victorians “have to be realistic about the circumstances that we confront”.

“That is why the public health team has advised me to reimpose stage three stay-at-home restrictions, staying at home except for the four reasons to leave, effective from midnight tomorrow night for a period of six weeks,” he said.

The “four reasons to leave” are to exercise – though it must be inside the metropolitan area; shop for food and other essential items; attend work or school (if they can’t do so from home); and medical or caregiving.

The lockdown applies to all of metropolitan Melbourne, as well as Mitchell Shire.



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COVID-19 ‘out of control’ as Melbourne second wave grows


There’s now no doubt that Victoria is experiencing a concerning second wave of coronavirus infections that authorities seem to have no control of.

That’s the view of Professor Adrian Esterman, a biostatistics expert and epidemiologist at the University of South Australia, whose described the situation as “almost chaotic”.

It was announced today that another 191 new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the past 24 hours, representing the state’s largest daily increase since the pandemic began.

While it’s impossible to predict what could happen in the short-term, Professor Esterman fears things could get much worse before they get better.

“My gut feeling? They’ve lost control and they need to do something fairly drastic,” he said.

“We’re seeing an almost exponential rise in new daily cases. It’s becoming more and more difficult for the Victorian Government to contain it.

“I think the genie has gotten out of the bottle.”

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

Professor Esterman said lockdown restrictions should be reintroduced in a bid to prevent further community transmission of the virus.

If numbers keep increasing, a statewide return to stage three measures might provide the only hope of preventing a public health disaster, he said.

That would allow four valid reasons to leave the house, being: shopping for food and supplies, care and care-giving, exercise, and study or work when it can’t be done from home.

“And exemptions to quarantine rules should not be granted,” he added.

“Testing should no longer be a choice. People in 14-day quarantine should be tested on day 11, and if they refuse, made to go into another 14 days of quarantine. Breaking quarantine should be a serious offence.

“Far better communication is needed to explain why these measures are essential, and health authorities should ensure their messaging also reaches those who do not speak English as a first language.

“People should be encouraged to wear face masks whenever outside. There is increasing evidence they are effective in areas of high transmission.”

It would no doubt be painful and an unfortunate backward step for Victoria, but it could be the only thing to get on top of the second wave, he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the Melbourne metropolitan region will enter stage three lockdown, with stay-at-home orders in place for six weeks.

Addressing the media, Mr Andrews conceded the situation is “unsustainable” and the rapidly rising numbers mean there simply aren’t enough people to contact trace new infections.

“If we fail to take these steps, then it won’t be a couple of hundred cases per day, it will be many more than that and spiral well and truly out of control.

“Cusp of a second wave, second wave, whatever people want to call this is entirely irrelevant. We have to be realistic about the circumstances that we confront. We have to be clear with each other that this is not over.”

RELATED: Melbourne tower residents left to ‘starve’ as SES takes away food

The situation now is more complex than at the start of the pandemic, when the majority of cases were ‘imported’ from travellers returning from overseas.

“The real concern is when there’s increasing community transmission where the origin of the virus is unknown. That’s been going up and down over the past several days.

“It makes things more challenging when it’s difficult for authorities to work out where the infection has come from. If you can’t do that, it means there are more cases out there.”

Coronavirus has shown itself to be an unpredictable pandemic, with a number of variables to infection that are virtually impossible to anticipate.

“The mathematical modelling is useless. It’s an almost chaotic situation that’s difficult to predict.”

RELATED: Man appears to bolt out of last train from Melbourne to Sydney

The resurgence has been linked to failures in the state’s hotel quarantine system, with those in mandatory 14-day isolation allowed to flout rules and security guards accused of facilitating breaches and even sleeping with those in lockdown.

Large family gatherings also caused large clusters of infections, health officials have said.

Fears of community transmission have seen localised lockdowns in specific postcodes, including the total isolation of several public housing towers.

A stage three lockdown has now extended to the entirety of Melbourne.

The government also suspended the easing of social distancing measures and reintroduced some bans on non-essential gatherings.



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Melbourne, some regional areas set to enter lockdown as COVID-19 cases continue to rise


Melbourne and parts of regional Victoria are expected to be ordered back into lockdown for six weeks on Tuesday after the state reported 191 new cases of COVID-19.

Sources close to Tuesday’s cabinet discussions have confirmed that schools in affected areas will not reopen their doors again for term three as planned on Monday, with hundreds of thousands of children to go back to distance learning, except for senior secondary students and special schools.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to re-impose stage three restrictions on Tuesday afternoon, preventing Victorians from leaving their homes for any purpose other than work, food, exercise or medical care.

It is unclear which regional areas will join Melbourne in lockdown, or where the boundaries of the metropolitan area will be drawn, with Mr Andrews expected to deliver the full details of the move when he addresses the media on Tuesday afternoon.



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Business

CSL kicks off US trial for COVID-19 treatment


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CSL executive vice president, head of research and development Bill Mezzanotte said the company was focused on global collaboration when considering its virus projects. “We have gone all in on the battle and are in the fight together with many external partners,” he said.

“Whether it is preventative with vaccines, or preventing progression with a hyperimmune, or using our monoclonal antibodies, like CSL312, to help people who are experiencing severe respiratory complications, CSL has taken on projects we think make sense both scientifically and that fit our capabilities.”

According to CSL’s application for the clinical trial made to US regulators, it is estimated the trial could be completed by December.



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