An aged care worker at a facility in Melbourne’s west has been diagnosed with COVID-19, sending the home into lockdown.
- Contact tracers are yet to link the aged care worker to an existing case
- Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said 53 of the 76 residents at the home had opted to be vaccinated
- Acting Premier James Merlino says it is still “too early” to know how the cases may affect the easing of restrictions
The worker at Arcare Maidstone was one of five locally acquired COVID-19 cases across Victoria reported yesterday.
The healthcare worker was not showing symptoms when she last worked at the home on May 27, but later tested positive, Arcare said.
She had received a first, but not a second, dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines offer a level of protection against serious illness after the first dose, but it is not unexpected for people to still be able to contract the virus.
Two of the other five new confirmed infections were identified as close contacts of existing cases and were already in quarantine.
A third was linked to a Telstra store in South Melbourne, one of the more than 170 exposure sites connected to the cluster, and so was already isolating.
The source of the aged care worker’s infection is not yet known.
“For two reasons: One, it’s our most vulnerable and sensitive setting … [and] I am concerned that we don’t have at this point in time an acquisition source.”
The worker is being treated as a “mystery case”, the first of the current outbreak, until the source of the infection is found.
“This is the biggest priority for us to understand,” Mr Weimar said.
Genomic sequencing is currently underway to trace the source of her infection.
The outbreak, which has led to a lockdown, started with a Wollert man who contracted the virus in a South Australian quarantine hotel.
However, health teams are still yet to directly link him to the other cases in the cluster, leading to concern the virus may have been spreading undetected in the community.
The five local infections and an overseas-acquired case in hotel quarantine were detected from 45,301 test results processed on Saturday.
There are now 49 active infections in the state, including those in hotel quarantine.
There were 17,702 vaccine doses delivered in state-run centres on Saturday.
Not all workers and residents vaccinated yet in home
Mr Weimar said the Arcare Maidstone worker presented for testing as soon as she had symptoms.
“We’re so so grateful to her for doing the right thing,” he said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said 53 of the 76 residents at the home had consented to be vaccinated.
Further vaccinations at the home slated for next week have been brought forward to tomorrow.
“We are encouraging all the residents and families, for those who have not provided consent, to reconsider and bring themselves forward,” Mr Hunt said.
Mr Weimar said about one-third of the staff had been vaccinated.
It is not clear how many of the staff or residents have received both doses.
On Thursday, it was revealed that of the 598 facilities in Victoria, 569 had received a first dose, leaving people in 29 facilities completely unvaccinated.
Today, Mr Hunt said 100 per cent of homes in Victoria and 99 per cent of Commonwealth-run aged care homes had been visited by vaccination services.
No other cases have been linked to the facility, which already had tightened protocols in place due to the outbreak, and contact tracing work is underway.
It was the only facility she worked at.
Too early to see if restrictions will end as ‘very serious outbreak’ unfolds
As the outbreak has grown, more than 170 exposure sites have been listed on the health department’s website.
Overnight, the busy Chadstone Shopping Centre and St Kilda restaurants were added to the list, which also includes five pubs and bars of “significant” concern and a dozen venues visited by an infected delivery driver over the space of a week.
The growing outbreak and large list of high-risk exposure sites prompted the snap lockdown, which was announced for the whole state on Thursday.
The lockdown is due to end at 11:59pm on Thursday, June 3, but Acting Premier James Merlino said it was too soon to say whether that timeline would be met.
“We will get advice from public health, when we can,” he said.
“We want to get out of this as quickly as possible … but we are still too early to talk about any easing of restrictions.
After the last snap lockdown in February, some mask rules and gathering restrictions remained in place even after the bulk of the lockdown ended.