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Cedar Meats cluster continues to increase coronavirus case numbers in Victoria

The number of coronavirus cases connected to a cluster outbreak at a Melbourne abattoir has grown again, rising to nearly 100 as 11 new patients were recorded in Victoria today.Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters this morning the state’s total number of cases had grown to 1554, with seven currently in intensive care.The Cedar Meats…

The number of coronavirus cases connected to a cluster outbreak at a Melbourne abattoir has grown again, rising to nearly 100 as 11 new patients were recorded in Victoria today.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters this morning the state’s total number of cases had grown to 1554, with seven currently in intensive care.

The Cedar Meats Australia plant in Melbourne’s west was revealed as a major cluster site for the deadly virus earlier this month after a staff member with a severed thumb from a workplace incident was identified as the third case connected to the meat processor.

“Today’s new cases include two linked to the Cedar Meats outbreak,” Ms Mikakos said.

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“I understand that four previously reported cases have also now been linked to Cedar Meats, taking the total for that cluster to 98. And that includes 64 staff and 34 close contacts.”

The outbreak at the meat processor in Brooklyn, 10km west of Melbourne, is the largest cluster site in the state and has caused the Victorian case numbers to continue rising while new patient numbers in the rest of the country remains low.

Some of those infected cannot self-isolate at home and have been staying in hotels in Melbourne including the Rydges in Swanston St, according to reports.

Another new case in Victoria was connected to the cluster site at a McDonald’s chain in Fawkner, in the city’s north, which was closed for deep cleaning but reopened on Wednesday.

A second McDonald’s restaurant has also been closed for deep cleaning after a staff member at its Craigieburn premises tested positive for COVID-19. The Craigieburn worker was a relative of a staff member at McDonald’s in Fawkner.

“We have spoken with the employee and confirm they are self-isolating at home with little to no symptoms,” a McDonalds spokeswoman said on Friday.

While many Victorians enjoy social visits this weekend, Ms Mikakos told reporters on Saturday the health advice remained to stay cautious and get tested if unwell.

Victorians can now socialise in small groups of no more than five guests to a home.

“We set ourselves a target of 50,000 (tests) from Monday to the end of this week, being Sunday. I’m pleased to report we have already exceeded that target and as of close of business yesterday we have already collected more than 56,000 swabs,” Ms Mikakos said.

WorkSafe launched an inquiry into the outbreak at Cedar Meats this week as the case numbers continued to rise.

The investigation will examine whether social distancing measures were in place at the abattoir and if workers were provided with appropriate personal protective equipment and hand sanitiser.

The state government and Cedar Meats’ management have defended their handling of the outbreak, including the decision to allow staff to work for several days after workers tested positive.

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