Melbourne’s Lockdown Could Be Extended Again as Cluster’s Source Remains a Mystery

melbourne lockdown

It’s Monday and it’s already a blow that the weekend is over, but thank God for wine delivery services because Victoria has recorded nine new covid cases this morning, which is sparking fear that the already extended lockdown will be extended once more.

Officially, Victoria recorded 11 new cases this morning, but two of those cases were picked up in an aged care centre facility in Maidstone, which came up too late for the previous day’s figures.

The single-day increase in cases is the highest since May 27 — when Victoria recorded 12 new local cases.

This alone is pretty concerning, however in an update this morning, Victorian health authorities have confirmed all of today’s new locally acquired cases are linked to existing outbreaks, which is somewhat comforting.

“Eight are existing primary close contacts who were quarantining during their infectious period,” they said. “More details will be provided in today’s press conference.”

The most worrisome element of Victoria’s COVID situation is the mystery outbreak of the new Delta strain, which is yet to be linked to a source. The newer, West Melbourne cluster, involves the more infectious Delta variant, which is still of unknown origin.

This Delta outbreak in West Melbourne has grown to 10 cases, with a primary school teacher the most recent to test positive.

Given the increase in today’s cases, along with the continuation of the Delta outbreak and its unknown source, there are concerns that the lockdown in Melbourne could be extended further than this Friday.

Today’s press conference will be held at 11:45am AEST.

Currently, the five reasons to leave your home will remain in place in Melbourne, which includes shopping for food and supplies, authorised work and study, care and caregiving, exercise and getting vaccinated/tested.

There is one change that might make city-goers feel less trapped; the travel radius will expand to 10km.

If you’re currently having a freak-out, first, let us reassure you that that’s totally understandable. Victorians suffered greatly in 2020, with the longest lockdown in Australia amidst the worst of the coronavirus pandemic from June to October. Mental health was at an all-time low, as we became used to everything closing at 8pm, exercising with masks on and feeling anxious about going to the supermarket.

For many people, the difficulty of 2020’s isolation didn’t hit until they were released from it. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated being able to go to bars spontaneously and hugging my friends so much.

Previously, this 7-day “circuit breaker” was scheduled to end at 11.59pm on Thursday, June 3, but a growing list of community-acquired COVID-19 cases has thrown that date 7 days further, with lockdown now ending at midnight on Thursday, June 10.

The state recorded an additional nine locally acquired cases today, bringing the outbreak total to 60. Additionally, there are more than 350 COVID exposure sites, where Victorians could have come in contact with the virus. Many of these are very public, such as shopping centres, cafes, schools and restaurants, that have seen endless people come in and out and are more difficult to keep track of.

There are also new details about “stranger-to-stranger” transmission, with authorities saying that people are becoming infected by simply “brushing past” strangers who tested COVID-positive.

In an article on the Herald Sun, testing commander Jeroen Weimar said authorities were particularly concerned about a handful of cases who were infected after instances of “very fleeting contact”.

“We have transmission in places like the Telstra Store in South Melbourne, JMD Grocers (Epping), the Mickleham display home and Craigieburn shopping centre,” he said.

“They are all examples of transmission with very limited contact. (With previous variants), we are used to transmission reoccurring in the home, in the workplace, where people know each other already — not all of those big social settings.

“These are quite different, they are fleeting contact.”

There are currently at least four cases that involve these stranger-to-stranger infections. Authorities are now urging people to get tested if they visited: Craigieburn Central; Bay St in Port Melbourne and/or Clarendon St, South Melbourne; Pacific Epping; or Broadway, Reservoir, in the past fortnight.

While this extension of the lockdown might make you feel helpless and hopeless, it’s helpful to remember that around 15,000-16,000 people are getting vaccinated in the state daily. The more people that get vaccinated, the closer we are to being free from this pandemic era. You can check if you’re eligible to get a COVID vaccine here.

It will be okay. Lockdown isn’t unfamiliar. Although not pleasant, we know that it’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to sleep in more, and it’s okay to start baking sourdough like crazy.

Hang in there, Victoria.

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