Victoria Covid update: Jeroen Weimar ‘extremely frustrated’ as seven new cases reported in Melbourne | Victoria

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The head of Victoria’s coronavirus response says he is “extremely frustrated” by delays in getting information from Sydney removalists who worked in Melbourne while infectious, as his state reports seven new positive cases.

Four of the cases are in the Ariele apartment building in Maribyrnong, where the removalist crew worked for three hours last Thursday, picking up furniture from a third-floor apartment. The apartment block was locked down on Tuesday.

The positive cases are spread across two apartments on the third floor. One of the people infected, a man in his 60s who lived next to the apartment where the removalists were working, later visited his elderly parents. They have also tested positive.

None of the members of the family whose furniture was being collected have tested positive. They are isolating in hotel quarantine.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground and Highpoint shopping centre have been named as exposure sites. A positive case who lives in the Ariele building attended the Carlton v Geelong game at the MCG on Saturday and sat in level two of the MCG members’ reserve.

There were 2,000 people in the members’ stand, and about 9,000 at the game. All have been urged to get tested immediately and isolate until they get a negative result.

A positive case visited at Highpoint Shopping Centre on Friday from 10am to 2pm. Anyone who was at the shopping centre between these times has been urged to get tested.

The seven new cases are in addition to a case reported earlier on Wednesday – a member of a family of four who moved to Melbourne from Sydney last week. All four members of that family have now tested positive.

The family moved under a red zone permit, which means they were required to isolate for 14 days. One member went to the Coles supermarket at Craigieburn Central on Saturday and then to the Metro Petroleum Broadmeadows petrol station on Sunday.

Seventy people have been identified as being at that Coles supermarket at the same time. One of them, a man in his 30s, tested positive this morning.

Victoria’s coronavirus response commander, Jeroen Weimar, urged anyone who had been at any identified exposure site to get tested without delay.

“I’m confident we are surging a huge amount of effort and resources at this, but I need people at those exposure sites to come forward and get tested immediately, this is not a time for delay,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “And the same goes for people anywhere in Victoria who might have any symptoms.”

Weimar said he understood the removalists were not wearing masks when they worked in the Ariele building. They were travelling in two separate trucks – not one as previously believed.

The removalists travelled from Sydney to Melbourne and Adelaide, then back to Sydney, in about 48 hours. Two of the crew of three tested positive on their return.

Forty-five people have been identified as close contacts because they were at a service station and McDonald’s at the Western Freeway at Ballan on Thursday evening, where the removalists stopped for a meal and a shower. Another exposure site, the Caltex and Hungry Jacks at Kalkallo, was identified on Wednesday morning.

Asked if he believed the crew were deliberately witholding information, Weimar said: “Well, they’re not being deliberately forthcoming, you can put it that way.”

“Books will be thrown when it’s time, when it’s appropriate to throw them,” he said. “I am exceptionally frustrated at the timing and the pacing of information coming from the removalists … it is my concern that we haven’t had quick and transparent exposure of all information.”

At this stage there has been no change to Victoria’s restrictions. Weimar said the outbreak showed the need to follow the current restrictions – which call for wearing masks indoors and when you cannot socially distance – and complying with red zone permits.

Victorian authorities visited 250 households where people were supposed to be isolating on red zone permits yesterday and found five addresses where people were “ether deliberately not isolating or were out”.

Some 1,600 people arrived in Victoria from New South Wales yesterday, all of which has been designated a red zone in response to the Sydney outbreak.

“I think what we have seen from the outbreaks of the last day or so is the absolute critical importance of red zone arrivals isolating, getting tested and maintaining their isolation,” Weimar said.

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