Australia

Melbourne meatworks coronavirus cluster has now spread to 71 people

Cedar Meats Australia has recorded 19 new COVID-19 cases connected to a cluster. Source: AAP

Positive cases from an abattoir cluster keep rising as Victorians hope the state government will wind back some COVID-19 restrictions from next week.

A coronavirus cluster at a Melbourne meatworks has ballooned to 71, as residents hold out hope of the winding down of some lockdown rules.

Victoria's tally went up to 1467 on Friday with 13 new cases.

Of those, eight came from the Cedar Meats facility, raising the number of cases in the cluster to 71, Police Minister Lisa Neville said.

There are 117 active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Eight new cases linked to the Cedar Meats facility were confirmed on Friday.
Eight new cases linked to the Cedar Meats facility were confirmed on Friday.
AAP

Twenty thousand coronavirus tests were done on Thursday, bringing the total tests in a two-week blitz to 127,000.

"It is what is going to help us make some decisions over the next couple of days leading into Monday," Ms Neville said on Friday.

Premier Daniel Andrews has previously warned Victorians the rules won't be lifted until Monday, when the state of emergency ends, pointing to the abattoir cluster to show how contagious the virus is.

Cedar Meats said on Friday it was told about the second infected case by labour hire company Labour Solutions Australia, not the health department.

Three days later on 27 April, the health department is understood to have called Cedar Meats about two positive cases linked to the abattoir.

The health department had called the labour hire company first as it was the employer of about half of the 350 on-site staff, a Cedar Meats spokeswoman said.

"We have absolute confidence in how DHHS has supported Cedar Meats and has supported this," she said.

Labour Solutions Australia said the case confirmed on 24 April appeared to be a one-off as the person was away from work for a week.

"It was a single case of a person showing symptoms who had been away from the workforce for a week. You'd assume it was a one-off (as no one else had symptoms)," a company spokesman said.

The spokesman added the company was positive no one in the cluster had been hopsitalised over the virus and hopes staff "can return to work healthy, as soon possible".

Mr Andrews labelled the handling of the outbreak a "model example".

Victoria's opposition has slammed the premier, claiming the meatworks outbreak was Victoria's "own Ruby Princess".

A worker at the meat processing facility tested positive on April 2, but claimed they hadn't been at work for weeks.

The second case linked to the workplace was diagnosed on 24 April, followed by a third case about 24 hours later.

The department took more actions, including closing the site, on 29 April.

Among the infected cases linked to Cedar Meats is a healthcare worker at Sunshine Hospital, who was exposed when an employee came in after cutting their hand at work and then tested positive to the virus on 26 April.

A total of 24 workers at the hospital remain in quarantine.

A worker at Doutta Galla Aged Care in Footscray and a Marcellin College student have tested positive as a result of the Cedar Meats outbreak.

On Friday, Ms Neville also urged organisers to cancel protests planned for this weekend in the city, as they are a blatant breach of restrictions.

During this period of isolation, police have done 2431 checks on people who are victims or perpetrators of family violence, with 780 offences committed.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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