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Victoria records six new cases of COVID-19 as lockdown extension looms

Victoria has recorded six new cases of COVID-19 as the State Government and health officials reportedly plan to extend the current “circuit breaker” lockdown.

Entering day six of the Statewide shutdown, alarm bells are ringing after a newly identified COVID-19 case travelled between Victoria and NSW and mounting evidence of “stranger-to-stranger transmission”.

The lockdown was originally planned to end at midnight on Thursday but will remain in place until at least early next week, according to the Herald Sun.

COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar said there were four to five instances in the State’s latest 54-case outbreak of people contracting the virus from “fleeting contact”.

“They do not know each other’s names and that is very different from what we have seen before,” Mr Weimar told reporters on Tuesday.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the Indian variant’s heightened infectiousness and faster spread would factor into the decision to extend the seven-day lockdown beyond Thursday or not.

“That is one of a range of pieces of evidence the chief health officer (Brett Sutton) and his team will weigh carefully,” he said.

Professor Sutton’s public health team was strongly leaning toward recommending a lockdown extension, according to media reports, as senior government ministers met to receive a high-level briefing on Tuesday night.

A State Government spokeswoman declined to confirm details to AAP but a final call could be ticked off as early as Wednesday morning.

The concerning spread of the Indian variant has also prompted authorities to encourage visitors to 14 shopping hubs across Melbourne over the past two weeks to come forward for testing.

“We are now keen to start to drain the swamp to see what else is out there,” Mr Weimar said.

“Is there anybody else out there we haven’t caught? Is there anybody else not caught by exposure sites?“

There are now more than 320 exposure sites across the State and 4800 primary close contacts, with 75 per cent of those returning a negative test.

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