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Coronavirus: Victoria records three new COVID-19 cases

Victoria has recorded nine local cases of COVID-19 overnight as Acting Premier James Merlino warned the outbreak could get worse before it gets better.

Six of those cases were announced on Monday.

Mr Merlino said it was too early to tell if the Statewide lockdown would be extended beyond 11.59pm on Thursday, saying the next few days would be critical.

None of Victoria’s 60 active cases reside in the regions, although several of the State’s more than 320 exposure sites are outside the city.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton could not rule out a return of the “ring of steel“, a series of road border checkpoints that stood for weeks last year as the regions recovered from the second wave quicker than Melbourne.

People lining up at the Melbourne Convention Centre.
Camera IconPeople lining up at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Credit: David Crosling, David Crosling Picture: methode

“It will be determined as we go through a review of the situation day by day. It is not out of the question,” he said.

A 99-year-old female resident at Arcare Maidstone was among three new cases on Monday linked to the facility in the city’s northwest.

She was within the area where a COVID-positive female healthcare employee worked, and has now been moved to hospital with mild symptoms.

The other two cases included the staffer’s son and an unvaccinated colleague, who also worked at BlueCross Western Gardens in Sunshine from Wednesday to Friday.

Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley resisted the temptation to criticise the federal government for repealing a ban on private aged care staff working across multiple sites last November.

But the Commonwealth is facing heavy scrutiny for vaccination rates among Arcare Maidstone residents and staff, as well as other private-run facilities.

A tram in Melbourne CDB.
Camera IconA tram in Melbourne CDB. Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui/NCA NewsWire

National cabinet will on Friday consider a proposal to make vaccination mandatory for all aged and disability care workers.

Federal MP Bill Shorten, whose electorate of Maribyrnong takes in the Maidstone facility, said workers in both the public and private systems should have been vaccinated by now.

“It is disgraceful that residents and aged-care workers and the same with people with severe disabilities and disability workers have not yet been vaccinated,“ Mr Shorten told Nine Network on Tuesday.

“The anxiety on people is shocking.”

Contact tracers are yet to determine how the first worker caught the virus as authorities await a genomic sequencing report, expected to be finalised as early as Tuesday.

Arcare Maidstone and Blue Cross Western Gardens residents remain locked down, while Royal Freemasons’ Coppin and Footscray sites returned to more relaxed settings after staff and residents returned negative test results.

It follows Coburg’s Mercy College and Methodist Ladies College in Kew shutting on Monday due to their own COVID-19 scares, further complicating the resumption of remote learning for students.

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