Six Victorians identified as close contacts of suspected NSW hotel quarantine COVID transmission

Victoria’s health department has identified six close contacts linked to an investigation into a potential COVID-19 transmission inside a hotel in Sydney being used to quarantine returned travellers.

The six people have been contacted by health officials and will be tested for COVID-19 and must quarantine for 14 days amid concerns they could have been exposed to the South African variant of the virus in the quarantine hotel in Sydney.

The Mercure quarantine hotel in Sydney.Credit:Google Maps

Contact tracers are trying to determine whether there was a transmission of the South African strain of COVID-19 inside the Mercure Hotel in Sydney after three returned travellers who stayed in adjacent rooms tested positive.

Genomic testing has confirmed they share the same viral sequence for the South African variant of COVID-19 and authorities are contacting other returned travellers who stayed at the hotel between April 7 and 12.

The alert about close contacts linked to the potential NSW hotel quarantine transmission comes as Victorians living in Daylesford and Benalla are being urged to be on high alert for coronavirus symptoms after two new detection of the virus were found in the region’s wastewater.

The Department of Health warned that the viral fragments had surfaced in wastewater samples recently taken from the inlet to wastewater treatment plants at Daylesford and Benalla.

It is the second time virus fragments have been discovered in the wastewater in 24 hours, with remnants of COVID-19 found in sewer catchments in Moonee Ponds and Ringwood on Wednesday.

Victorians are encouraged to get tested if they have symptoms.Credit:Getty Images

“Given the prolonged period of no community transmission in Victoria and absence of local cases in these areas, these are most likely due to a person or people who are not infectious but are shedding the virus,” the Victorian Health Department said in a statement on Thursday.

“Victoria’s wastewater testing program is designed to provide early warning of COVID-19, and the possibility that someone is in the early phase of the virus cannot be ruled out.“

People who live in or have visited the Daylesford area from April 10 to 12 or the Benalla area from April 10 to 15 are being urged to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if any develop.

Victorian health authorities have also contacted a person now in Victoria, who was recently in hotel quarantine in Perth, where two new cases of hotel-transmission COVID-19 were confirmed late on Wednesday. This person will also be tested and required to undertake 14 days of quarantine.

This warning comes hours after the Victorian Department of Health issued a COVID-19 warning to people arriving in Victoria from Auckland. The alert was issued after a worker at Auckland Airport cleaned planes bound for Australia while potentially infectious.

“Victorian health authorities instruct anyone who has travelled to Victoria from Auckland since 17 April to monitor for symptoms and isolate and get tested immediately should symptoms develop,” the warning said.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has revealed he is “feeling just a wee bit ordinary” following his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton receives the vaccine at the Royal Exhibition Building.Credit:AAP/POOL

“Feeling just a wee bit ordinary today – achey and tired,” Professor Sutton tweeted just before 9.30am on Thursday. “On the plus side, go immune system!”

As with most vaccines, the AstraZencea has short-term effects including pain, swelling, tenderness, redness or itching at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, nausea, chills and fever. Experts say this is a good sign as it means the vaccine is generating an immune response.

However, persistent symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, abdominal pain and a severe headache that cannot be relieved by painkillers should be taken seriously as such symptoms have been linked to an extremely rare blood clotting event associated with the the vaccine.

As the Victoria marked Victoria’s 55th consecutive day without a local case of COVID-19 on Thursday, Professor Sutton confirmed that crowds at the MCG, AAMI Park and John Cain Arena will be able to increase to 85 per cent capacity.

He said the decision was based on the venues meeting strict public health requirements at last weekend’s games.

Crowds at Marvel Stadium, GMHBA Stadium, and Mars Stadium will remain at 75 per cent while further work is undertaken to ensure efficient and effective contract tracing of patrons.

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