Victoria records no new coronavirus cases, boosts effort to track down travellers

Victoria has recorded its 18th consecutive day of no new local coronavirus cases, but health authorities have ramped up efforts to track down returned travellers from interstate hotspots.

On Monday the Department of Health announced it had started contacting all arrivals to Victoria from Brisbane since 10 March after an outbreak linked to a doctor at a Brisbane hospital.

A returned traveller, believed to be a super-spreader, infected a doctor at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital and another guest who was staying on the same floor of the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

Anyone in Victoria who visited The Morning After Café at West End, The Corporate Box Gym at Greenslopes and The Stones Corner Hotel at Stones Corner at various times on Thursday March 11 is being treated as a close contact and is required to isolate for 14 days.

It comes after similar warnings were announced at the weekend for returned travellers from Sydney as a result of a quarantine hotel leak involving a security guard.

The Department of Health has contacted 4723 people who have entered Victoria from NSW on March 13 and 14, and 2975 people from Queensland since last Thursday.

No close contacts have been yet been identified.

The two sole active cases in Victoria are both overseas acquired cases in hotel quarantine.

Meanwhile overnight, multiple European countries have said they would temporarily pause the roll-out of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after a small number of blood clotting incidents in several countries.

Australia has secured 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, including 50 million doses that will be manufactured locally.

Lawrence Young, a professor in Molecular Oncology from the University of Warwick in the UK, said he believed the countries that had paused their vaccine roll-outs were being overly cautious.

“I think it’s always a concern if you see any adverse effects of any medicine [and they] need to be investigated, but I do think the panic at the moment is unnecessary,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Tuesday morning.

“The UK medicines regulator, the MHRA, the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organisation have all said that there’s no evidence to suggest the jab causes blood clots and that people should continue to be vaccinated.”

Professor Young said he himself had already received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In Victoria, a warning remains in place for a number of suburbs after the detection of viral fragments in wastewater catchments.

Anyone with symptoms who visited, or spent time in the following suburbs on the dates listed is asked to get tested immediately.

  • Laverton and Laverton North from March 9 to 11
  • Werribee (east of the Werribee River) from March 9 to 11
  • Balwyn North, Blackburn North, Box Hill North, Bulleen, Doncaster, Doncaster East, Donvale
  • Mitcham, Mont Albert North, and Nunawading from 9 to 11 March
  • Sunbury (north-eastern area) from 7 to 11 March.

Tuesday’s zero new cases were a result of more than 12,000 tests processed on Monday.

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