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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Victoria races to find MCG, pool COVID contacts

Authorities are racing to track down thousands of close contacts linked to the MCG, a Melbourne shopping centre and an indoor swimming pool after Victoria recorded seven additional local COVID-19 cases.

Four of the new cases are residents of the Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong, which has been in lockdown since Monday night after a visit from infected removalists. 

Among those cases is a man in his 60s, who subsequently infected his parents, aged 89 and 90 and who don’t live in the complex. 

The man also attended an AFL match between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG on Saturday and Highpoint Shopping Centre on Friday.

About 2000 people were on level two of the Members’ Reserve where the man was sitting and have been deemed close contacts. The rest of the 30,000-plus crowd are considered casual contacts and should monitor for symptoms.

The Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre and Young & Jackson pub in Melbourne’s CBD have been identified as tier-one exposure sites after a case visited on Sunday, and patrons from both venues must get tested and isolate regardless of their result.

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said the next two days would be critical.

“We are right on the heels of this particular outbreak,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Some 200 residents of the Ariele Apartments were forced into 14 days of quarantine after a group of NSW removalists did a pick up at the complex on Thursday while infectious. 

Mr Weimar said the three removalists, two of whom have tested positive, weren’t wearing masks, in a breach of their worker’s permit conditions. 

The trio also did a drop off at a Craigieburn home the same day and visited several petrol stations and fast-food restaurants.

It is believed they slept in their trucks on Thursday night before travelling to SA.

The remaining 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. 

Three members of the family flew into Melbourne on July 4, while a fourth drove back on Thursday.

They were required to self-isolate at home as red zone permit arrivals but one family member visited the Coles and a Metro petrol station in Broadmeadows.

All four family members have now tested positive, with the fourth infection confirmed on Wednesday. 

The seven other new cases will be included in Thursday’s daily figures.

Financial support bickering

Meanwhile, the state and federal governments are bickering over financial support for NSW.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday announced a new, joint state- and federally-funded support package for NSW due to the Sydney outbreak that has infected more than 800 people and claimed two lives.

The package will also be offered to other jurisdictions if they have to impose extended lockdowns.

Premier Daniel Andrews’ office issued a statement on Tuesday night accusing the federal government of NSW favouritism, saying it “shouldn’t take a crisis in Sydney for the prime minister to take action”.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told ABC’s 7.30 program people were “sick” of Mr Andrews’ “whingeing and his politicking of the crisis”.

Both the Victorian and Australian governments have financial assistance for those who have to isolate as close contacts of infected people.


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