Coronavirus testing clinics across Melbourne are expected to be inundated again today after thousands of football fans were warned they may have been exposed to the city’s new cases.
Today confirmed there are already cars lined up waiting to get into the Northern Hospital testing site, with the first person arriving 90 minutes before doors opened.
CSIRO’s Dr Rob Grenfell told Today the next few days will be crucial to determine whether Melbourne needs to be locked down.
“The next few days will tell us how harsh it will be – we are sitting on a knife’s edge here in Melbourne,” Dr Grenfell said.
Dr Grenfell said he had faith in Melbourne’s contact tracing system and at this stage there is just the one cluster compared to three the last time the city was locked down.
“This virus isn’t going away. It is here and it is going to eventually establish itself in this country, so we have to be very cautious,” he said.
“The solution to this is obviously vaccination – I urge everyone to start considering vaccination and do this as a matter of haste.”
The positive case sat in zone four, level one, of the Great Southern Stand, at the Punt Road end of the ground, to watch Collingwood’s nail-biting loss to Port Adelaide on Sunday, the Department of Health said.
Fans seated in bays M1 to M16 will be contacted and told to get tested and isolate but that advice could be extended to more parts of the stadium after security footage is reviewed.
It’s not clear which of the nine cases identified so far watched the Pies-Power clash but the potential spreading of the virus at the MCG poses a major setback for Victorian authorities racing to keep the cluster from growing.
Five new infections announced on Tuesday came after a testing blitz in Melbourne and added to a rapidly growing list of exposure sites that spread from Epping in the city’s outer north to the CBD.
McDonald’s in Clifton Hill and Bamboo House in the CBD were added to the list of more than 20 tier-one sites on Tuesday, the first such sites outside of the City of Whittlesea.
Masks are mandatory indoors for anyone older than 12 without an exemption until the rules are reassessed on June 4.
Schools and workplaces remain open and density requirements at restaurants and bars remain unchanged but the government is seeking advice on weddings and sporting and cultural events.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton was concerned a man identified as the fifth case in the latest cluster may have been infectious since at least May 17.
Contact tracers have established the man met with the first identified case for a business transaction on May 18.
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said genomic sequencing for the northern suburbs outbreak showed it was “closely linked” to the Wollert cluster from earlier this month, which originated in South Australia hotel quarantine.
Victorians who live in Greater Melbourne and travel to regional Victoria can continue to do so, but the restrictions will travel with them.
Mr Merlino said the new restrictions were a necessary and “responsible step” in order for the state to stamp out the growing outbreak.
“This is about giving our contact tracers the time they need to track this matter down and get on top of it,” he said.
Professor Sutton said the changing situation was a solid reminder that “millions” of Victorians who had not been vaccinated should go and get their jabs.
“We have enough supply,” he said.