Victoria’s snap lockdown will be extended for a further seven days and its New South Wales border restrictions tightened to get the Delta variant outbreak under control, as the state recorded 13 new cases on Tuesday.
Nine of the 13 cases were in isolation for the entire time of their infectious period, with the remaining four in the community for less than one day.
The premier, Daniel Andrews, said the state needed to get the latter number down to zero and announced the extension beyond the initial planned five-day lockdown for another week, until midnight on Tuesday 27 July.
“That is really how we will know that we have brought this under control,” Andrews said. “We don’t have that residual risk of it running again, of it flaring up once with open up. We just can’t run that risk.”
There are 320 exposure sites across the state, with 18,000 close contacts identified for the outbreak’s 85 cases to date.
The close contacts are spread across the state, with a case in Mildura, meaning the lockdown will continue across all of Victoria. Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, said the spread was in large part due to the outbreak at the MCG members’ stand at the Geelong v Carlton AFL game on 10 July.
“We have seen significant and stand-alone outbreaks in regional areas in Phillip Island, in Bacchus Marsh, Barwon Heads and as far away as Mildura,” he said. “Around a third of all of our primary close contacts are right across regional Victoria.”
About 90,000 businesses in the state have received support payments from the Victorian government, and Andrews indicated that further support would be announced on Wednesday.
Beyond the border bubble for border communities between NSW and Victoria, red zone permits allowing entry from NSW into Victoria will be further limited from midnight on Tuesday, meaning residents trying to return to Victoria will only be allowed in with an exemption, in limited circumstances.
Aircrew and other specified workers or those transiting through Victoria to another jurisdiction will still be allowed in.
Those who try to enter from NSW without an exemption will either be returned or will be placed in hotel quarantine for 14 days, and could face a fine of $5,452. Andrews said the tighter rules would be in place for at least two weeks and were needed as the state worked to get the Delta variant under control.
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“Things are too unstable, too uncertain and frankly out of control from a virus point of view in Sydney. We need to protect Victoria and Victorians and indeed, beyond that, the rest of the nation.”
The red zone rules will also apply the Australian Capital Territory but Andrews said the chief health officer would continue to consider the status of the capital, which has recorded no cases of community transmission in more a year.
Of the 13 cases reported on Tuesday from nearly 50,000 test results, seven are linked to the Ms Frankie restaurant in Cremorne, Melbourne; three of them are staff members. Two are connected to an outbreak at Trinity Grammar – a staff member and a student at Ruyton’s girls’ school.
There were two more household contacts of someone connected to the MCG outbreak who tested positive, and a member of the group who travelled to Phillip Island.
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The final case is a woman in her 20s in Roxburgh Park who has not yet been connected to any outbreak but is believed to be connected to the City of Hume family who tested positive at the start of the latest Victorian outbreak.
There were also detections of viral fragments in wastewater in Roxburgh Park on Monday night.
Sutton said health officials would review the cases day by day, and did not rule out ending the lockdown earlier if few cases were reported over the next few days. Andrews stressed the importance of putting out the spotfires of cases.
“We have done extremely well to avoid a Sydney-style outcome,” he said. “We just now need to finish this job and it does take a bit more time.”