COVID-19: 11 new community cases of coronavirus recorded in Victoria outbreak

COVID-19: 11 new community cases of coronavirus recorded in Victoria outbreak
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Victoria has recorded nine new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 as Melbourne continues to endure its extended lockdown.

In an update, Victoria's Department of Health confirmed 11 cases had been recorded in the 24 hours until midnight. Two of the 11 cases had been announced on Sunday, but were not added to the official tally until Monday.

The current cluster now sits at 81, with 94 infections currently considered active in the state.

Two of Monday's cases are believed to be linked to the Arcare Maidstone aged-care facility. One is a 79-year-old resident who lives in close proximity to two other residents who have previously tested positive for the virus. Another is an employee.

A statement from the facility said the resident has received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is asymptomatic.

"Further testing will take place tomorrow, with the indication that it will occur every two days while we manage this outbreak," Arcare CEO Colin Singh said, as reported by local media.

"Our team at Arcare Maidstone is doing everything possible to bring this outbreak under control and is continuing to work closely with the Public Health Unit and follow its advice."

On Saturday, residents of and recent visitors to 10 suburbs across Melbourne's inner north-west were urged to remain on high-alert for symptoms after viral fragments of COVID-19 were detected in wastewater samples.

Victoria's Health Department said the traces were "of interest" to officials as there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the areas.

However, a number of exposure sites connected to the existing cluster are located across the suburbs.

The suburbs are Aberfeldie, Ascot Vale, Essendon, Essendon West, Flemington, Footscray, Kensington, Maribyrnong, Moonee Ponds, Parkville and Travancore.

On Friday, it was revealed that a new variant of the virus, the Delta variant, had been discovered in Melbourne. Formerly known as the India variant, the mutation is considered to be of "significant concern" and is responsible for spiralling infection rates in India.

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton acknowledged there is anecdotal evidence that the variant is more severe and has increased transmissibility in children. 

"[It is] the Delta variant. It is infamous in India and in the United Kingdom. It is a variant of significant concern," Sutton told reporters during a press conference.

"It has not been linked to any sequence cases across Australia from hotel quarantine or anywhere else that it is not linked in Victoria or any other jurisdiction."

The family who contracted the variant had travelled to Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales. Sutton said it is "within the bounds of possibility" the family had picked up the virus while in the state. 

"We are examining who is the likely index case in this family, and therefore trying to trace back, where this variant has been picked up."

At midnight on Thursday (local time), residents of regional Victoria breathed a sigh of relief when officials decided to ease the statewide lockdown for some unaffected areas. However, Melbourne - the epicentre of the outbreak - will continue to endure the restrictive measures for another week in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

"I would love to see cases driven down to zero by virtue of that, but if the number of exposure sites stabilise and we are really not seeing new or concerning exposure sites, that gives us all great confidence that we can ease up," Sutton said.