Hundreds of Melbourne hotel staff in quarantine

A coronavirus outbreak at a Melbourne hotel may have been exacerbated by breaches in social-distancing guidelines as the state’s deputy chief health officer reveals hundreds of hotel workers are in quarantine.

Dr Annaliese van Diemen today told reporters health authorities were bracing for more virus cases at the Stamford Plaza Hotel after five security contractors tested positive overnight.

The five employees had worked shifts over a similar period at the hotel.

The Stamford Plaza in Melbourne. (Google)

“We have a couple of hundred workers in quarantine at this point in time,” she said.

“There’s a large cohort of security guards and other workers and unfortunately it does appear that quite a few of them have worked for single or multiple days whilst infectious.

“We do expect that there will quite possibly be further cases linked to that outbreak and that won’t be a huge surprise unfortunately.”

Dr van Diemen said it did appear the hotel employees had reportedly flouted social-distancing requirements.

Stamford Plaza Melbourne. (Nine)

“It does appear there have been some breaches in those guidelines,” she said.

“There has been some closer mingling with these guards in the workplace. We are increasing the auditing, we are increasing the supervision.”

The Department of Health today said investigations into potential sources of transmission, testing of staff and follow up discussions with close contacts were ongoing.

Victoria has recorded an increase of 13 new cases, with a net increase of 12 due to one infection being reclassified, bringing the state’s total to 1792.

Among the other new cases, two were linked to a family in Keilor Downs which were close contacts of a known case. The new outbreak has not been linked to the previously reported family outbreak in Keilor Downs.

Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen. (AAP)

One new case was a close contact related to the Rydges hotel, bringing the cluster’s total to 17.

Three new cases were identified through routine testing, one case was linked to a returned overseas traveller and another case was still under investigation.

Community transmission has increased by one infection in the state. There are 91 active cases in Victoria.

“This is a deadly and dangerous virus,” Transport Minister Jacinta Allen said today.

“We do have to keep up our own personal efforts to stay safe as restrictions are eased.

“We will continue to take the advice of the chief health officer.”

Rydges hotel in Melbourne. (Nine)

There are five people in Victorian hospitals, including two patients in intensive care.

Dr van Diemen yesterday said authorities still planned to relax restrictions on Monday, despite the surge in cases but the state would remain “vigilant”.

Gyms, cinemas, indoor sports centres and concert venues are scheduled to reopen, while cafes, restaurants and pubs are set to increase capacity from 20 people to 50.

“We are hoping this is a blip,” she said.

“Monday’s restrictions will go ahead as planned.”

In NSW, there were seven new coronavirus cases confirmed overnight.

All new cases were returned travellers in hotel quarantine, NSW Health said.

The state also recorded its second-highest test numbers, with 17,363 tests carried out in the reporting period, after the record-high of 17,392 tests in the previous 24 hours.

Almost 700,000 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out in NSW.

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