Victoria COVID case linked to Perth hotel

A Victorian man has tested positive for COVID-19 after contracting the virus in hotel quarantine in Perth, ending the state’s eight-week run without a locally-acquired case.

Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed the man, from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, returned a positive test on Friday morning. 

The man had completed 14 days’ quarantine at Perth’s Mercure Hotel before returning to Melbourne on Qantas flight QF778 on Wednesday. 

He was contacted upon arrival at Melbourne Airport by Western Australian health authorities, who instructed him to get tested and isolate. 

Mr Foley said the man was picked up from the airport by his spouse and went straight home. 

It’s believed he has only come into contact with his spouse and their two children while in Melbourne. 

The family was tested on Friday morning. 

“He did all of the right things, got his gear, went straight home, sat in the back seat, put his mask on all the way home and stayed separate from the rest of the members of his family,” Mr Foley told reporters. 

The Victorian public health team is working to contact everyone on Qantas flight QF778, who will be required to get tested and isolate for 14 days. 

“We will be examining the gentleman’s movements, particularly through the airport, where he did wear a mask, as he did on the flight,” Mr Foley said. 

He said he was not aware of how many people were aboard the flight. 

The man – who is asymptomatic – was moved on Thursday at his request to The Holiday Inn on Flinders Street, which functions as a “health hotel” for international arrivals with COVID-19.

A total of three people have contracted the virus while staying at Perth’s Mercure Hotel. 

WA authorities confirmed through genomic testing that the virus spread in the corridor of the hotel from a couple who had returned from India.

Mr Foley said the man had stayed in an adjacent room to the couple, while a pregnant mother and her four-year-old daughter contracted the virus after staying in a room across the corridor.

The man will be included in Victoria’s COVID-19 figures for Friday, which will be released on Saturday, bringing to an end the state’s 56-day run of no locally-acquired community transmission. 

“This is an important and timely reminder to all of us that this global pandemic is not over,” Mr Foley said.

Asked if he was confident the virus hadn’t spread, Mr Foley replied: “It’s still too early to say”.

“Victorians have been down this path. We know the drill. We will do the right thing to keep this to one case,” he said.

The health minister urged all eligible Victorians to get immunised, noting three extra vaccination hubs are being opened across the state. 

From Friday, those eligible will be able to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and Sunshine Hospital sites. The Mercure Hotel in Ballarat will open its doors from Monday.

Mass vaccination sites at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and Geelong’s former Ford factory opened earlier this week to all Victorians who qualify under phase 1a or 1b of the vaccine rollout.

People aged over 50 will be able to receive AstraZeneca at the vaccination hubs from May 3 and GP clinics from May 17.

Some 5383 Victorians were vaccinated in the 24 hours to Friday morning. 

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