A Melbourne aged care home is in lockdown and all workers and staff will be tested for coronavirus after a resident there became a suspected coronavirus case over the weekend.
- Health authorities initially said the resident at the Villa Maria aged care home in Bundoora was one of today’s new coronavirus cases
- They later said the resident in fact returned an “inconclusive” result, but that all such results were treated as positive by authorities
- All staff and residents at the home will be tested for coronavirus over the next few days
Victorian health authorities said this afternoon the eight new coronavirus cases announced today included a resident at the Villa Maria aged care facility in Bundoora.
But the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) later clarified that the resident had returned an “inconclusive” test, which was being treated as positive under the health unit’s policy.
“This is a precautionary approach designed to minimise potential spread as quickly as possible,” the statement said.
“Because of the high-risk setting, the aged care facility will continue to be managed as if it were an outbreak site for at least two weeks.”
The ABC has asked the DHHS whether cases where people return “inconclusive” results are routinely added to the tally of coronavirus cases in Victoria.
The home’s operator, Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH), said the entire home was in lockdown as a result and the resident, who had no symptoms, was quarantined in their room.
Over the weekend, the resident was taken to hospital with a temperature of 39 degrees Celsius before returning the inconclusive test, which had since been followed by a negative test, VMCH said in a statement.
“Staff who have had close contact with the person are in self-isolation at home. All other staff are being tested for COVID-19,” the statement said.
“Should any signs of ill health appear, we will seek medical attention immediately.”
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It comes as a dozen McDonald’s restaurants across Melbourne’s north and west have been closed and hundreds of workers asked to self-isolate after a delivery driver tested positive for coronavirus.
Health authorities believe the driver was a close contact of an employee at the Craigieburn McDonald’s who tested positive last week.
The fast-food chain says the restaurants were closed out of an “abundance of caution” and that no further employees have tested positive.
Twelve coronavirus cases have been linked to the Fawkner McDonald’s outlet.(ABC News: Darryl Torpy)
Victoria announced eight new cases of coronavirus this morning, including two close contacts of cases in a cluster linked to the Fawkner McDonald’s, and three cases in hotel quarantine.
The Fawkner McDonald’s outlet has now been linked to 12 cases.
McDonald’s Australia chief executive Andrew Gregory told ABC Radio Melbourne the driver’s positive test was confirmed “as late as yesterday afternoon” and the 12 restaurants were closed within hours of the company being told.
Victoria COVID-19 snapshot
- Confirmed cases so far: 1567
- Recovered patients: 1,439
- Deaths: 18
- Suspected cases of community transmission: 161
- Cases in hospital: 9
- Intensive care patients: 5
- Tests: More than 345,000
Updated Monday, May 18
Latest information from the Victorian Government
“Its going to impact about 1,000 staff,” he said.
Most of these workers are expected to return to work as the restaurants reopen in coming days with about 200, who were working during the deliveries or afterwards, asked to stay at home for two weeks.
The outlet at Craigieburn was closed on Friday for cleaning after an employee a relative of one of the cases linked to the Fawkner outlet tested positive.
A McDonald’s spokesperson confirmed the restaurant closures on Monday morning.
“McDonald’s Australia confirms no other employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“However, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to close and conduct a deep clean of 12 restaurants in Victoria, following confirmation a truck driver for an external service provider has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Laverton North McDonald’s restaurant is among those temporarily closed after a delivery driver tested positive to coronavirus.(ABC News: Stephanie Ferrier)
“The truck driver made deliveries to 12 restaurants and interacted with a small number of restaurant employees on each occasion while asymptomatic and unaware they had contracted COVID-19.”
Potential close contacts and employees who worked shifts during and after the driver’s deliveries had been told not to return to work for 14 days and to get tested, the spokesperson said.
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“The Department of Health has identified the truck driver as a workplace close contact of the previously announced Craigieburn COVID-19 case.”
The spokesperson said McDonald’s would reopen each of the restaurants after the deep cleans were completed and when replacement workers were available.
The closed restaurants are:
- Melton East
- Laverton North
- Taylors Lakes
- Hoppers Crossing
- Riverdale Village
- Calder Highway Northbound/Outbound
- Calder Highway Southbound/Inbound
- BP Rockbank Service Centre Outbound
Premier says outbreak a ‘really big concern’
Premier Daniel Andrews told Channel Nine this morning any outbreak, particularly one involving a case with no symptoms, was “obviously a really big concern”.
He said the McDonald’s cluster highlighted how rapidly the virus spread and why testing was so important.
Cedar Meats Australia took the temperature of staff members returning to work on Monday morning.(ABC News)
“We’re going to see more of these outbreaks,” Mr Andrews said.
“The Prime Minister has made that clear.
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“I’ve made the point that it’s going to be part of this virus as it presents in the weeks and months to come and that’s why we’ve all boosted our teams right across the country to be able to track, trace and respond really quickly to outbreaks.”
The Premier added that the state’s public health team were “very confident” about today’s reopening of Cedar Meats’ Brooklyn abattoir, which has been linked to 100 cases.
Cedar Meats Australia in Brooklyn has implemented strict rules for staff and visitors after an outbreak at the abattoir.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)
“I think there’s about 20 staff going back in there,” he said.
“They’re working in one particular part of that business in the cold storage part of that business.
“That’s a significant outbreak but one that the Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, has made clear has been handled very well by the public health team.”
Single case closes two Melbourne businesses
Meanwhile, a Domino’s restaurant in Fairfield and a mattress and foam manufacturer in Deer Park were closed on Friday after man who worked at both businesses tested positive to coronavirus.
A spokesperson for the pizza chain said in a statement the employee last worked at the Fairfield restaurant on May 8 and was asymptomatic at the time.
The store was undergoing a “full environmental clean” and would be reopened on May 23, the statement said.
“Upon being notified of the positive test result, Dominos immediately closed this store, notified all Fairfield store team members and their families, and recommended everyone self-isolate and seek testing,” it said.
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Comfort Group chief executive Peter Mullin said the same man worked at the company’s Deer Park manufacturing facility.
Mr Mullin said the employee began suffering cold-like symptoms and got tested the weekend of May 9 and 10 and had not been to work since.
The factory was shut on Friday after the test results came back on Thursday night.
Mr Mullin said the facility was being deep-cleaned over the weekend and would remain closed until Wednesday.
About 200 people who had been at the factory since April 10 were being tested, he added.
“We’ve been implementing stringent practices and distancing protocols including segregated meal break breaks and separating workers,” he said.
The company had identified only three people who would be classified as “close contacts” of the infected employee and two of them had already tested negative, he added.
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