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Mystery cases could delay roadmaps

Mystery cases are still taking up about 15 per cent of Victoria’s daily infections, raising doubts on how Melburnians can emerge from lockdown and regional Victorians from stage three restrictions. Despite lower numbers, with Victoria recording 58 virus cases on Tuesday and 90 on Wednesday, chief health officer professor Brett Sutton revealed there were 4351…

Mystery cases are still taking up about 15 per cent of Victoria’s daily infections, raising doubts on how Melburnians can emerge from lockdown and regional Victorians from stage three restrictions.

Despite lower numbers, with Victoria recording 58 virus cases on Tuesday and 90 on Wednesday, chief health officer professor Brett Sutton revealed there were 4351 coronavirus cases with an unknown source.

There were just 760 mystery cases when metropolitan Melbourne was locked down about a month ago.

“We are still seeing around 15 per cent as a proportion of our daily totals as mystery cases,” he told reporters on Wednesday morning.

“For today‘s numbers, I can’t tell you, they will be closed off in the next 48 hours. But looking back at the week, it is clear it is still sitting around 10 or 15 per cent.”

Victorians are awaiting crucial details on two roadmaps, one on how Melburnians will emerge from lockdown and the other on how stage three restrictions in regional Victoria will ease.

The Premier will make the announcements on September 6.

But Prof Sutton said these roadmaps hinged on the data, particularly the rate of mystery cases.

“It does depend where they are occurring, it is all clustered towards the end of the month. It is not about a daily average, if you suddenly get a significant number that you can’t track down in a short period of time,” he said.

“If we can get cases below 30, and the proportion of mystery cases continues to be driven down, then we will absolutely be in very low single figures, and we would do that more detailed investigation, upstream investigation that I talked about, we actually look at everyone they have been in contact with, not just big while infectious, but in the 14 days before the symptoms. That is acquisition testing.

“All the people in close contact, where they might have gotten that infection from. So it is not just the history and the interview to find that out, but testing all of those people, including blood tests, not just the PCR swab at the back of the throat to determine whether they might have been the original case, and if you can understand that, then you can explore their close contacts and where that train might be occurring.”

Premier Daniel Andrews also announced Victoria‘s State of Disaster declaration will continue for at least 11 more days after it was due to expire at 6pm on Wednesday.

It comes just hours after a marathon debated ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning, where the Premier’s controversial state of emergency extension Bill was passed by a single vote.

Victorian Greens MP Samantha Ratnam made an early return from maternity leave with her one-month-old daughter Malala to cast her vote in favour of the Andrews Government’s Bill and help get it over the line.

She joined Reason Party MP Fiona Patten and Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick in supporting the Government’s legislation in the Upper House after it backed down on its bid to extend the powers by 12 months.

The move gives the chief health officer power to ensure the community’s safety through detaining people, restricting movement and preventing entry to premises.

There were six more deaths on Wednesday, taking the state’s death toll to 576.

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