The Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, declared the Greater Melbourne area a COVID-19 hotspot for the purposes of Commonwealth support from 11:59pm on 12 February 2021.
This was for an initial period of three days, with review on 15 February. Today, after assessment of the epidemiological situation, the declaration has been extended until 11:59pm on 17 February 2021.
Since 12 February, an additional four cases have been confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the Greater Melbourne area.
This brings the total number of cases associated with the outbreak at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport to 17.
Whilst epidemiological links between cases have been established, transmission has now occurred in settings beyond the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel and households.
Whole genome sequencing confirmed initial cases to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant of concern, and it is assumed subsequent cases are also infected with this virus.
Concerns regarding the B.1.1.7 variant remain, due to its higher transmissibility and potential association with more severe disease.
Given the ongoing risk posed by the B.1.1.7 variant of concern, the occurrence of additional locally-acquired cases, and transmission events at sites beyond households and the Holiday Inn, the declaration of Greater Melbourne area being a COVID-19 hotspot for the provision of Commonwealth support has been extended until 11:59pm 17 February 2021.
This declaration remains proportionate to the change in circumstances, and the Commonwealth continues to offer the Victorian Government its support and assistance.
The declaration will be reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer on Wednesday 17 February 2021.