Victoria scrambles to track down ‘mystery’ COVID cases after double-digit spike

Victoria will soon receive an “additional” 150,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine from the federal government, with Daniel Andrews to confirm details of the deal as soon as Sunday.

The premier says he’s “very pleased” by the news, confirmed to him by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday evening.

It’s understood the extra supplies will begin arriving on Thursday after being reallocated from a delivery originally scheduled for dispatch next month.

Victoria has meanwhile recorded 29 fresh COVID-19 cases, all linked to current outbreaks but not in quarantine while infectious.

The state’s Delta variant outbreak has also spread to a public housing tower in the Melbourne suburb of Flemington previously placed under strict lockdown in early July.

The state recorded six locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
The state recorded six locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Credit: James O’Neil/Getty Images

Saturday’s case count, from 43,618 test results, means Victoria is now managing 95 active cases.

Mr Andrews said on Saturday it was “a certainty that there are more cases out there”.

“We have mystery cases, at least two,” he told reporters.

“We don’t know where they are, who they’ve given it to, and everyone is at risk.”

More than 10,000 close contacts of positive cases in the state are currently isolating with 82 venues listed as exposure sites.

Among them is the residential tower at 130 Racecourse Road, Flemington, which has been identified as a tier two location between August 3-6.

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said eight cases were in a single family within the building, who were now in quarantine.

“All other residents of the building, we will also provide additional testing capacity for,” he said.

Other residents of the building on separate floors will progressively be asked to get tested over the weekend.

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“We don’t know where they are, who they’ve given it to, and everyone is at risk.”

State ombudsman Deborah Glass determined a decision to place nine public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington into immediate hard lockdown on July 4 to be a human rights violation.

Other tier one sites listed by authorities included a medical centre and a pathology collection centre, both in Caroline Springs.

Several schools were also added on Friday evening as tier two sites, including Heathdale Christian College in Werribee and Warringa Park School in Hoppers Crossing, after positive cases were found in students.

Al-Taqwa College, the centre of an outbreak during Victoria’s second wave, has also reported several cases.

“We are working with those who have tested positive to ensure they and their families are supported and have access to the help and services they need while they isolate and recover,” the college said in a statement.

The growth of the current outbreak aside, Mr Andrews said it was still too soon to tell whether the state’s week-long lockdown could be lifted on Thursday.

He said the escalation in cases meant getting tested was now “absolutely critical”.

“It is non-negotiable, cannot wait one hour, cannot wait one afternoon,” he said.

“It is very significant to see this many cases. Although they are rolling, they are linked to outbreaks and we don’t know where those two outbreaks started so they are mystery cases that sit behind this.”

Victorian facilities administered 22,600 vaccine doses in the 24 hours to Friday evening.

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