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“This is stranger to stranger transmission”: Aus authorities concerned about ‘fleeting’ Indian covid-19 variant



Australia’s second-largest state, Victoria remains in lockdown today as authorities express concern about how easily the Indian COVID-19 strain is transmitting from ‘fleeting’ encounters.

Authorities have raised alarms to this particular Melbourne outbreak, as the Indian variant of COVID is proving to transmit between complete strangers with little contact. Examples include brushing past each other in a small shop, and walking past each other in display home.

This has sparked a surge in exposure sites, alerted across the south-eastern state in Australia.

“We think it is a feature of the Indian variant which is that much more contagious,” Deputy Secretary at Department for Health and Human Services, Jeroen Weimar said.

“This is stranger to stranger transmission.”

Weimar said they have seen transmission in these places with very fleeting contact.

“They are all examples of transmission with very limited contact. With previous variants, we are more used to transmission occurring in the home, in the workplace, where people know each other already, not at all of those big social settings. These are quite different.”

The stay-at-home orders are supposed to be part of a seven-day “snap lockdown”, but there are fears that this will be extended due to a number of new “mystery cases”.

Three new local cases of COVID-19 were recorded on Tuesday, on top of six cases announced Monday.

Of the 4,800 primary close contacts 75 per cent have returned negative test results.

‘Five-day blitz’ to help boost vaccination numbers

Private aged care residents and staff those in residential disability settings will now be given priority to get the vaccine at Victoria’s state-run walk-in vaccine hubs.

“The Commonwealth made it clear that originally, under the phase 1a/1b schedule, this was a sector that they were going to look after,” Health Minister Martin Foley said.

“A few weeks ago they asked all the states to assist in that process, and today we’re starting a significant contribution, but that will come out of Victorian state allocations of vaccine to target this very high risk group.”

Will Australia’s most populous state have its lockdown extended?

Epidemiologist Professor Mary Louise McLaws says she doesn’t believe the state will be back to normal by Friday.

She told the ABC that Victoria has “a very high, very rapid increase of cases over a short period of time,”

Despite the lockdown costing around $1 billion a week, she says “it certainly has to go for 14 days”.

Business slams government support package

Melbourne is dubbed as the world’s most liveable city, but businesses and their employees are calling for better support.

A $250 million dollar support package for struggling Melbourne businesses has been labeled as ’embarrassing by industry leaders.

Meanwhile, James Wheelan from the VHS Group says the Victorian government has acted poorly by locking down the entire state.

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