One new local COVID-19 case found in Victoria with source of infection unknown

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Victoria has recorded just one new local COVID-19 case, but contact tracers have not yet linked the case to a known outbreak.

Public health authorities are investigating the case and the source of infection. There were 15,110 test results received on Friday and 20,660 vaccines administered.

Three cases were found in hotel quarantine. There are now 74 active cases in Victoria.

The Department of Health added 19 new exposure sites late on Friday, including a takeaway shop at Southern Cross Station, a souvlaki shop in Thornbury, and a medical centre, service station and chemist in Taylors Hill.

There were just over 130 exposure sites on Saturday morning.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton had warned on Friday there would be more exposure sites added to the list, as contact tracers identify the places visited by the positive Reservoir family as well as the Melton couple who travelled through NSW to Queensland and tested positive to the virus.

Outdoor mask-wearing rules remain.Credit:Darrian Traynor

The state government has defended its decision to continue enforcing mask-wearing outdoors, as a leading air quality expert argued there was little evidence to support the measure.

“There is no reason, in my view, for wearing masks outside,” said Lidia Morawska, a researcher and director of the WHO-collaborating International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health.

“In my view, requiring masks outdoors at every place is a bit misguided, because people stop being compliant because it does not make sense.”

Professor Sutton urged Victorians on Friday not to dismiss outdoor settings as potential transmission risks.

“(Masks) still reduce transmission substantially, people move in and out of indoor and outdoor areas all the time, and it is not always easy to judge how close others are,” he said.

On Friday, genomic testing indicated the Reservoir family – a man in his 80s, a woman in her 70s, a man in his 50s and a man in his 20s – are likely carrying the Kappa variant of the virus, the same strain in the City of Whittlesea and Port Melbourne outbreaks.

But health authorities have still not traced how the family caught the virus, with Professor Sutton noting there were “a number of potential exposure sites and acquisition sites where they may have been when another infectious case was also present”.

Traces of the virus have been found in wastewater unexpectedly across Bendigo, in the Glenroy-Pascoe Vale area and in some eastern suburbs in the local government areas of Whitehorse, Manningham and Monash in recent days.

The health department is urging anyone in those areas with COVID symptoms to get tested immediately.

Western Australia reclassified Victoria as a ‘low risk’ state from 6pm Friday, but Victorians making the trip will still need to isolate for 14 days.

Victorians will also have to complete a G2G pass confirming they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and undergo all virus testing requirements.

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