New Delta variant outbreak ‘dashes hope’ of lockdown reprieve

For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

A new coronavirus outbreak discovered in Melbourne has dashed hopes of an early end to the city’s lockdown after genomics testing found it was the more infectious Delta variant that has spread through India and is causing increasing alarm in the UK.

Infectious diseases specialists remained hopeful that Melbourne’s stay-at-home orders will be lifted next week as planned but warned restrictions, including the wearing of masks indoors, will need to remain in place for weeks.

North Melbourne Primary School has been closed after two COVID-19 cases were linked to the school.Credit:Eddie Jim

Paediatrician and researcher at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Margie Danchin, who is investigating COVID-19 transmission in Australian schools, led a team screening casual contacts at North Melbourne Primary School at the weekend to determine how far the virus had spread.

“The families involved in this outbreak are understandably really struggling,” she said. ”I don’t think the community really understands just how hard it is for families with a positive child, who feel like they have been responsible for all of this testing and the school shutting down.“

Victoria’s outbreaks have now reached 64 cases, with seven of those cases linked to the Delta variant and West Melbourne outbreak.

After multiple aged care workers and residents tested positive for coronavirus this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that state and territory leaders are “leaning heavily” towards mandatory vaccinations for aged care workers following a botched vaccine rollout in the sector that has left the vast majority of workers unvaccinated.

However, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly warned there may be “unintended consequences” of mandatory vaccines that could affect the aged care workforce, including people leaving the industry.

Top epidemiologist James McCaw said it was “deeply concerning” to have a new outbreak of the Delta variant in Melbourne and it remained “way too early” to say whether the city would be released from lockdown next week.

“This thing, it spreads more easily and therefore it’s harder to control,” said the University of Melbourne mathematical biologist. “We don’t know what that second outbreak will do yet. It’s still only got a couple of people that we know about in it, [so] it could fade away or it could continue to spread, we’ll just have to wait and see.“

Professor McCaw said a silver lining of the new outbreak was it was discovered when the city was already facing stay-at-home restrictions.

“If you were ever going to have a new outbreak seeded in, this is the best possible time for it to happen.”

Cath Taylor, whose son is in year six at North Melbourne Primary School, said the school had been “super transparent” about the potential exposure and high risk for grade 1 and 5 students.

She said her son got tested for the virus this week out of caution as he often plays football on the oval with mixed year levels.

“The school has managed the situation very well, it’s just something we all have to try and do our bit,” she said.

“We had a positive case at the school last year … so we were prepared. Home schooling is really the biggest stress I think for many families right now.

With Paul Sakkal and Mary Ward

Stay across the most crucial developments related to the pandemic with the Coronavirus Update. Sign up for the weekly newsletter.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article