WATCH LIVE: Victoria’s COVID-19 update press conference today amid fears Melbourne lockdown will follow new cases
There are calls for Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to impose a fifth Melbourne lockdown as the number of new coronavirus cases in the city continues to grow.
Epidemiologist Professor James Trauer warned Melbourne residents to be prepared for the city to be plunged into lockdown immediately to stop the spread of two separate outbreaks, both of which stem from New South Wales.
Victoria’s health authorities are set to provide a COVID-19 update at on Thursday. This article will be updated with the time as soon as it’s confirmed. You can watch the press conference LIVE in the video player above as soon as it’s available.
“We’ve seen increasing cases over the last few days, more exposure sites every day and I think we know that if we go early with lockdowns, the earlier we go, the shorter they need to be,” the head of Epidemiological Modelling at Monash University explained on Sunrise.
“We need to get on top of this and we still don’t really understand the scale of the number of cases that are being created at the moment, so I would really support an early lockdown.”
Vic COVID update
It comes as nine new cases of COVID-19 emerged in Melbourne’s north and west on Wednesday from two separate outbreaks, both of which stem from NSW.
A teacher from Bacchus Marsh primary school is among the new cases, having reportedly attended an AFL match between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG on Saturday with an infected friend who lives at the locked-down Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong.
The friend, aged in his 60s, is one of four residents of the apartment to test positive on Wednesday.
He also infected his parents, aged 89 and 90, who live in Craigieburn.
Bacchus Marsh Grammar has confirmed the infected teacher attended a staff day on Monday but had no contact with students on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Staff have been told to self-isolate and get tested, while the school’s Woodlea and Maddingley campuses will be closed for the rest of the week.
Barwon Heads Primary School near Geelong has also been closed until further notice after a case of coronavirus was reported.
Another new case is a man in his 30s who attended Coles Craigieburn at the same time as a member of a family who recently returned from Sydney infected with COVID-19.
The family of four from Melbourne’s northwest were required to self-isolate at home as red zone permit arrivals, but one visited the Coles and a Metro petrol station in Broadmeadows.
All have now tested positive, with the fourth infection confirmed on Wednesday.
The Ariele Apartments outbreak is linked to a NSW removalist crew who did a pick up at the complex on July 8 while infectious, forcing 200 residents into 14 days of lockdown.
COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said the three removalists, two of whom have tested positive, weren’t wearing masks, in a breach of their worker’s permit conditions.
Meanwhile, two unexpected detections of COVID-19 viral fragments have been found in wastewater samples from Geelong catchments in recent days.
Residents of 11 Geelong suburbs have been urged to keep an eye out for symptoms and get tested if they develop.
Victoria COVID-19 restrictions
The Victorian government has already moved to make masks mandatory indoors across the state.
From Thursday, anyone aged over 12 will be required to wear a mask in all indoor settings, including schools and workplaces, unless an exception applies.
“I was very glad to see that masks are being mandated indoors,” Professor Trauer said.
“That’s a very sensible thing to do first-up and then lockdown measures are logical to follow after that,” he added.
It’s understood government discussions are underway to reimpose a lockdown or other restrictions such as caps on crowd limits and visitors permitted in homes, though a decision is yet to be made.
DH exposure sites
More than 40 exposure sites have been listed across the state, with a range of DFO Uni Hill stores in Bundoora and an Epping medical centre added to the list late on Wednesday.
Click here to see the latest exposure sites in Victoria.