Melbourne hotel quarantine worker is confirmed to have highly-contagious UK strain of Covid – forcing over 100 of her close contacts into isolation

  • Melbourne hotel quarantine worker has contracted the UK strain of Covid-19 
  • Tested positive after shift on Sunday at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport
  • Those forced into isolation include 12 ADF workers and nine police officers
  • Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said eight contacts were of high concern 
  • Testing capacity increased near the exposure sites in the city’s north-west
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A Melbourne hotel quarantine worker has contracted the highly-contagious UK strain of Covid-19 – forcing more than 100 of her close contacts into isolation.

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Twelve Australian Defence Force workers and nine police officers are among those who have been ordered into self-quarantine after working with the woman at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport. 

The woman is the second hotel quarantine worker in the city contracted to have been diagnosed with the deadly respiratory illness in less than a week.

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The authorised officer, aged in her early 50s, had previously tested negative after shifts on Wednesday and Thursday before having two days off.

She tested positive after her shift on Sunday, and has since been working with contact tracers who identified three potential exposure sites in the city’s northwest.

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More than 100 people have been identified as close contacts of a woman infected with Covid-19 they worked with at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport

Health workers test for Covid-19 at Royal Melbourne Showgrounds on Monday. The hotel quarantine worker tested positive after her shift on Sunday

Health workers test for Covid-19 at Royal Melbourne Showgrounds on Monday. The hotel quarantine worker tested positive after her shift on Sunday

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No other local positive cases have so far stemmed from the two infected workers.

But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on Tuesday morning genomic testing had shown the worker had the UK strain of the virus. 

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‘It is the UK strain,’ he said.   

‘Further to that particular outbreak there are eight social close contacts that are very close to this particular worker.

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‘They are all isolating and have been tested.’

The revelation comes as a returned traveller at a Melbourne quarantine hotel was transferred to intensive care after testing positive to the virus. 

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‘We send our best wishes to that person,’ Mr Andrews said.

Victoria had no new local or international infections on Tuesday.

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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday genomic testing had shown the worker had the highly-infectious UK strain of the virus

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday genomic testing had shown the worker had the highly-infectious UK strain of the virus

There are 15 active cases, with 12,816 test results.  

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Another 17 people, up from 15 earlier on Monday, have been deemed social and household close contacts and will follow the same routine. 

Testing capacity has been increased near the exposure sites which include a bottle shop, cake shop and clothing store.

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New pop-up testing centres have appeared in Brighton and Clayton, while opening hours have been extended at eight other sites from Monday.

Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville, who is responsible for the state’s quarantine program, said the woman did not appear to have breached any infection control protocols.

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A hotel worker at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport on Monday. Victoria had no new local or international infections on Tuesday

A hotel worker at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport on Monday. Victoria had no new local or international infections on Tuesday

Victorian COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar said authorities were assuming the ‘worst-case scenario’, that the woman contracted a complex strain while working in the program’.

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It follows another hotel quarantine worker at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt hotel testing positive for the infectious UK strain on February 3.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton tested negative on Monday after reporting a runny nose, sore throat and headache.

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A hotel guest looks out from a window at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport on Monday.  The worker tested negative after shifts on Wednesday and Thursday before then testing positive after her shift on Sunday

A hotel guest looks out from a window at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport on Monday.  The worker tested negative after shifts on Wednesday and Thursday before then testing positive after her shift on Sunday

He also signed off on Sydney’s Cumberland area – encompassing parts of Auburn, Parramatta and Holroyd – moving from an ‘orange’ to ‘green’ zone from 6pm on Monday.

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It was the last remaining NSW local government area to change to a green-zone classification under Victoria’s ‘traffic light’ permit system.

Meanwhile, the Australian Open got off to a subdued start on Monday with an attendance cap, overcast weather and no school holidays making for an unusually quiet day one at Melbourne Park.

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