Melbourne’s lockdown ends but coronavirus concerns remain

Victoria’s latest COVID-19 challenge is far from over, despite the end of the Melbourne lockdown and the further easing of regional restrictions.

As the relaxed rules came into effect at midnight on Thursday, health authorities were trying to work out how four members of a Melbourne family with no known links to current outbreaks tested positive for the virus.

Victorian health officials had also started interviewing a couple late on Thursday who left outer-suburban Melbourne during the city’s lockdown. They drove travelled through NSW to Queensland and tested positive while staying with the woman’s parents on the Sunshine Coast, sparking health alerts in three states.

Also on Thursday, there were wastewater detections of the virus reported in the suburban Pascoe Vale, Scoresby and Vermont areas.

Anyone with respiratory symptoms in those areas is urged to get tested.

And six more public exposure sites were added for Bundoora, Heidelberg and Thomastown in Melbourne, dating from May 28 to June 7.

  • See an updated list of exposure sites here

Victorian health authorities are yet to release details of any new cases for Friday.

While the city’s easing of restrictions went ahead at midnight on Thursday as planned, Melburnians must continue to wear masks whenever they leave their homes.

Melburnians are also restricted to a 25-kilometre travel limit from home.

Initially, masks were no longer going to be compulsory outdoors when the lockdown lifted, as long as social distancing was maintained.

That changed with the revelation of Thursday’s four new cases, from a single Reservoir household in Melbourne’s north.

Deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng said the family were not close contacts of previous cases and hadn’t visited any listed exposure sites, although they live close to the City of Whittlesea outbreak.

“These new cases are really the strongest reminder that we are by no means out of the woods yet,” Professor Cheng said.

Authorities are still awaiting genomic testing to see if the family has the Delta or Kappa strain of the virus.

Their close contacts are self-isolating and some have already returned negative tests.

Meanwhile, the couple who drove to Queensland remain under investigation and it is unclear how they caught the virus.

The woman and her husband left Melton, in Melbourne’s outer west, on June 1, reportedly so he could start a new job on the Sunshine Coast. She was the first to test positive on Wednesday, followed by him on Thursday, after their road trip through regional NSW and into Queensland.

However, Queensland health authorities are confident the couple are at the end of their infection period.

They say the couple did not apply for a travel exemption to enter the state.

Testing has been boosted in regional NSW and Queensland following the couple’s diagnoses. So far, NSW has reported no new community cases and Queensland has only the former Melbourne couple.

Victoria had 78 active cases on Thursday, down five from Wednesday.

-with AAP

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