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Yesterday Victoria talked of 'eliminating' virus - today it woke to another crisis

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Victorians must again wear face masks and limit household gatherings after a Melbourne quarantine hotel worker tested positive to COVID-19, possibly contracted from an international tennis player.

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It came on the same day that the state’s health minister said Victoria had “technically” eliminated the virus after 28 days without community infection.

The 26-year-old man from Noble Park in the city’s southeast visited numerous public places and shops before returning a positive test on Wednesday.

He had been employed as a “resident support worker” at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt, where scores of international tennis players have been quarantining after arriving for the Australian Open. He worked his most recent shift last Friday.

It’s not yet known if the man is carrying a potent offshore strain of the virus.

“Through an abundance of caution, we’re assuming the worst. I think that’s always a smart thing to do,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters overnight.

The Queensland Government has not declared Victoria a hotspot, but anyone who has travelled from the affected area to the Sunshine State since January 29 is being urged to get tested.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said if people from Victoria had been at any of the venues subject to a health alert, they should also quarantine immediately.

Hospitals, aged care facilities, and disability services have been advised to check the travel history of any visitors and refuse entry if they are a potential threat.

While travel restrictions have not been imposed, Queenslanders have also been urged to reconsider travel to Victoria at this stage.

Queensland has again recorded no new cases of COVID-19, but authorities are examining three lots of test results: two in recent travellers from WA who are believed to be shedding a virus they caught overseas, and one believed to be a false positive.

The future of hotel quarantine remains under discussion, with Queensland today closing the Hotel Grand Chancellor cluster while Perth remains under lockdown due to a quarantine breach in WA.

A number of hotel quarantine security guards last year contracted COVID-19, sparking Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus which killed hundreds of people and led to months of lockdown.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said on Wednesday the state’s 28 days without a local case of coronavirus “technically equates” to elimination of the virus, given it represents two 14-day incubation periods.

But he warned the threat of the pandemic was “real and ongoing”.

“There is a long way to go before we can claim it is over,” Foley said.

Just hours later, the government announced the infection linked to the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Premier Andrews called for calm and urged widespread community testing as he confirmed the latest positive case.

“This is one case. We are all well trained and well-schooled in what to do as a state,” he told reporters overnight.

Health authorities are awaiting further genomic test results to confirm the origin of the man’s virus. Those results are expected on Friday.

Close contacts of the man are in isolation and undergoing testing.

In response, Andrews ordered that from Thursday, everyone in Victoria must wear face masks – including in public and private indoor settings – and household gatherings are limited to 15 people.

Plans to allow more workers back to offices have been paused and while the Australian Open is expected to go ahead as scheduled, some players may face re-testing and extended quarantine.

“I don’t want to speculate about what the days and weeks to come hold for us,” Andrews said.

Earlier on Wednesday, health authorities confirmed the transmission of a coronavirus case between guests in separate hotel quarantine rooms.

Two separate groups of guests in opposite rooms at Melbourne’s Park Royal Hotel tested positive for the more infectious UK variant of the coronavirus.

It’s possible the transmission could have occurred during a brief door opening as guests collected food.

The hotel’s ventilation system is being reviewed despite an earlier report finding no air was being shared between rooms or into common spaces.

Some 100 hotel quarantine staff members and 37 returned travellers who have completed their 14 days on the impacted floor are now self-isolating at home. None have yet tested positive.

NEW COVID-19 CASE SITES

Visitors to the following venues at the specified times must isolate for 14 days and get tested:

Saturday, January 30:

* Club Noble, Noble Park, 2.30pm – 3.30pm

*Aces Sporting Club, Keysborough, 10pm – 11.15pm

Sunday, January 31:

* Northpoint Cafe, Brighton, 8.10am – 9.30am

* Kmart Keysborough, 4pm – 5pm

* Kmart Brandon Park, 4.30pm – 5.10pm

* Coles Springvale, 5pm – 6pm

Monday, February 1:

* Bunnings Springvale, 11.30am – 12.15pm

* Melbourne Golf Academy, Heatherton, 5.15pm – 6.40pm

-AAP

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