COVID-19 hits North and West Melbourne

COVID-19 hits North and West Melbourne
Spencer Fowler Steen

The West Melbourne COVID-19 outbreak which spread to North Melbourne Primary School (NMPS) in June has been linked to a returned traveller staying in a Melbourne quarantine hotel.

Contact tracers have used genomic sequencing to match the Delta COVID-19 variant which infected a West Melbourne family in early June to a returned traveller who had stayed in Melbourne’s hotel quarantine system in May.

The man arrived in Australia from Sri Lanka on May 8, when he went into the state’s hotel quarantine system and tested positive on arrival, according to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

However, at the time of publishing, the link between the man and the West Melbourne family was still unknown.

The returned traveller was released from quarantine on May 23 after completing his 14 days isolation at the Holiday Inn health hotel and testing negative twice.

Shortly afterwards on May 24, a West Melbourne family of four drove back from a holiday in Jervis Bay, NSW. Following the onset of symptoms, the father in the family got tested for COVID-19 on May 31 and returned a positive result on June 1.

The day after, the man’s spouse and two children tested positive.
On June 4, genomic sequencing revealed the family had the Delta variant of COVID-19, believed to be 50 per cent more infectious than the Alpha variant and responsible for a surge in infections in India.

North Melbourne Primary School announced that it had closed on the same day, after a year five pupil who was in the same class with one of the West Melbourne children tested positive, along with two adults in their home.
On June 5, the second family’s other child tested positive to COVID-19, as well as a work colleague of one of the West Melbourne family adults.
The next day, a teacher from NMPS who taught the two year five students tested positive, and on June 7, another child of a previously announced case and three family members of another case tested positive.

The total number of cases linked to the West Melbourne outbreak was 15 at the time of writing.

North Melbourne Primary School reopened to students on Friday, June 11 on the same day Melbourne’s lockdown was lifted.

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