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Victoria records no new cases of Covid-19 after Holiday Inn cluster grew

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Victoria has recorded no new cases of Covid-19 in relief for millions fearing another draconian lockdown.

Fears grew this week that the virus was still spreading, after three new cases – a couple and their young child – tested positive on Friday.

But the trio are all linked to the Holiday Inn cluster, and one parent is understood to have caught the infection while in hotel quarantine there.  

One member of the household, who was not at the hotel, was considered a secondary contact and had been isolating with the family at home.  

All three had negative tests between February 10 and 12. All have quarantined at home during their infectious periods.  

People in Melbourne came out of lockdown on Thursday and immediately headed out to enjoy the city (pictured)

People in Melbourne came out of lockdown on Thursday and immediately headed out to enjoy the city (pictured)

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer professor Michael Kidd said state authorities are working to make sure people linked to the family are traced.

‘Obviously the Victorian authorities will be acting very swiftly to make sure that all the contacts of these people have been followed up and are also in isolation and arranging to get tested,’ he said on the ABC on Friday. 

State chief health officer Brett Sutton wrote on Twitter: ‘This isn’t over yet – all known contacts of cases or exposure sites need to stay in quarantine for the full 14 days to wrap this up.’

Pictured: A cafe worker in Melbourne CBD preparing to re-open after a five-day lockdown

Pictured: A cafe worker in Melbourne CBD preparing to re-open after a five-day lockdown

Pictured: Shoppers lining up outside a Foot Locker in Melbourne Central on February 18, just hours after Stage 4 restrictions were eased

Pictured: Shoppers lining up outside a Foot Locker in Melbourne Central on February 18, just hours after Stage 4 restrictions were eased

Millions of Victorians were freed from a brutal Stage Four lockdown on Wednesday after five days.

The stay-at-home order, only allowing people to leave home for essential work, shopping, care and exercise, was repealed along with the 5km travel rule. 

Face masks are still mandatory indoor and outdoors if social distancing cannot be followed, and Victorians will only be allowed to have five guests in their houses. 

Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday he was able to lift the ‘short, sharp circuit breaker’ lockdown thanks to the low infection numbers.

‘[The lockdown was] exactly what we said we needed, that’s exactly what we said would work,’ he said.

‘I am very proud of every single Victorian for the work they have done.’

People in face masks at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Thursday are the five-day lockdown ended

People in face masks at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Thursday are the five-day lockdown ended

Pictured: Shoppers at Melbourne Central on February 18. The state recorded three new cases on Friday and no new cases on Saturday

Pictured: Shoppers at Melbourne Central on February 18. The state recorded three new cases on Friday and no new cases on Saturday

But the state remains on high alert after coronavirus fragments were detected in sewage in areas where there have been no active cases – sparking concerns the virus might have spread.

The virus fragments have been found in wastewater in suburbs in south-east Melbourne, health authorities warned on Friday.

Testing of samples from Wantirna South and Boronia on February 15 and Carrum Downs, Langwarrin, St Kilda, Caulfield and Caulfield North on February 16. 

Currently the only active cases are in Melbourne’s western suburbs along with one case in Greater Dandenong – sparking concerns the virus may have spread undetected to other areas.

The Department of Health said the wastewater samples contained ‘weak detections’ of the virus.

There are now 22 cases linked to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport (pictured, health workers at the hotel on Tuesday)

There are now 22 cases linked to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport (pictured, health workers at the hotel on Tuesday)

Victoria's five-day coronavirus lockdown ended at 11.59pm on Wednesday - but some restrictions will remain (pictured, a picnic in a Melbourne park pre-lockdown)

Victoria’s five-day coronavirus lockdown ended at 11.59pm on Wednesday – but some restrictions will remain (pictured, a picnic in a Melbourne park pre-lockdown)

It comes after the announcement that Victorian hotel quarantine and airport workers will be among the first to receive the Pfizer when it rolls out in Australia next week.

Front-line workers who are more likely to come into contact with the virus will be vaccinated first in Victoria, which also includes health staff, and public sector residential aged care staff and residents.

‘Our priority is to support the Commonwealth to make sure that the vaccine is administered to workers at the highest risk of contracting Covid-19 as quickly and safely possible,’ Health Minister Martin Foley said in a statement. 

‘Whether they work in hotel quarantine, at the airport, or a specialist Covid ward – we need to keep Victorians most at risk of infection safe, while they continue to keep Victorians safe.’ 

Senior government ministers met on Tuesday night to discuss the easing of restrictions, which were introduced following an outbreak of the UK strain at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn where returned travellers were being quarantined. 

Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured on Wednesday) said he was able to lift the 'short, sharp circuit breaker' thanks to the hard work of Victorians in containing the virus

Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured on Wednesday) said he was able to lift the ‘short, sharp circuit breaker’ thanks to the hard work of Victorians in containing the virus

The outbreak at the Holiday Inn sits at 22 cases.

The starting point of the cluster can be traced back to a family of three who had returned from overseas and tested positive for Covid. 

A returned traveller in the family was allegedly using a nebuliser to treat his chronic asthma and said he was given permission by health authorities to use the medical device.

It is believed the nebuliser allowed coronavirus-carrying particles to become airborne and infect a food and beverage worker, a security officer and a resident who has since left hotel quarantine.

Victoria has recorded 20,640 cases and 820 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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