The Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, has today declared the Greater Melbourne a COVID-19 hotspot for the purposes of Commonwealth support, for an initial period of 7 days from 27 May 2021.
Victoria have announced the occurrence of 26 cases in the Greater Melbourne in the past four days.
Whole genome sequencing has confirmed cases to have been infected with the B.1.617.1 variant of concern. The sequence is closely related to that of the Wollert case detected in Victoria on the 10 May 2021, and investigation is underway to determine whether there are any missing epidemiological links.
B.1.617.1 is believed to have a higher rate of transmission, resulting in the need for more stringent public health measures to control a community outbreak if it becomes established.
Numerous locations have been visited by cases during their infectious period, and these exposure sites have been listed on the Victorian Government’s website. To date, cases have arisen in the Greater Melbourne residents only.
Due to the increased risk posed by the B.1.617.1 variant, the occurrence of cases who have been in the community while infectious, and a possible missing epidemiological link, this declaration is proportionate to the change in circumstances and the Commonwealth has offered the Victorian Government its support and assistance.
Declaring a hotspot for Commonwealth support triggers the following (if required):
- provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the National Medical Stockpile
- actions for aged care facilities including PPE, single site workforce supplement and integration of an aged care response centre into the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre
- assistance with contact tracing
- re-allocation of vaccine supplies, if required
- asymptomatic testing via General Practice Respiratory Clinics.
The declaration will be reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer on or before 3 June 2021.