Four more cases of coronavirus have been linked to an outbreak at a Melbourne meat processing plant, bringing the cluster to 49 people.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton says authorities may struggle to determine the original source of the cluster at the Cedar Meats abattoir in Brooklyn.
But he’s confident it has not stemmed from a worker who tested positive for the virus early in April, weeks before hundreds of other staff were tested.
The worker who tested positive on April 2 told the Department of Health and Human Services they had not been at work at any time when they could have potentially infected others.
“I have been told that that early case wasn’t part of the cluster – wasn’t on site,” Professor Sutton told 3AW on Wednesday.
The second case linked to the workplace was diagnosed on April 24, followed by a third case about 24 hours later of a person who had been a patient at Sunshine Hospital for unrelated reasons prior to diagnosis or displaying symptoms.
A healthcare worker became infected through the worker’s Sunshine Hospital visit, while others have been quarantined.
It wasn’t until April 29 that the department took additional actions, including testing all Cedar Meats staff.
Prof Sutton said while those early cases linked to the cluster are known, it’s not clear exactly how the outbreak emerged.
“People can have really mild symptoms and we’ll really struggle to understand who introduced it and when, but somebody’s brought it into the facility,” he said.
Reports the worker confirmed as infected on April 2 had actually been on site were “a rumour”, Prof Sutton said, but could be checked if needed.
The latest four cases at Cedar Meats were part of 17 new cases recorded in Victoria on Wednesday.
Seven others are returned overseas travellers who are in mandatory hotel quarantine and six cases remain under investigation.
Eight people remain in hospital with the virus, including six in intensive care.
Meanwhile, the state government has also continued to unveil economic stimulus.
Treasurer Tim Pallas confirmed on Wednesday it would redeploy about 3000 casual public sector workers who have lost their jobs but are ineligible for the federal government’s JobKeeper program, into agencies of high demand.
A day earlier he revealed an extra $491 million in virus relief measures.
Victoria Police fined 33 people for breaching coronavirus restrictions in the 24 hours to Tuesday evening, including multiple people who had held prohibited gatherings in private residences and public spaces.