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Virus alert for MCG Test spectators, mandatory masks for SCG Test

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Tens of thousands of people who attended the Boxing Day Test at the MCG and Australia’s biggest shopping centre during Boxing Day sales have been called on to get COVID-tested and self-isolate after a Melbourne man tested positive after attending both venues.

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Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said health authorities don’t believe the man in his 30s was infectious during his visit to the MCG on day two of the Australia-India Test on December 27.

But people seated in the Great Southern Stand’s zone 5 between 12.30pm to 3.30pm have been asked to get tested and self-isolate.

“Anyone who was seated within that zone 5 bubble will be receiving a text message in the next couple of hours, advising them of the situation,” Allan said on Wednesday.

A day before, the man attended the Boxing Day sales at Chadstone Shopping Centre, touted as the biggest in the southern hemisphere, from 6am to 2pm.

He developed symptoms on December 30 and contact tracing has revealed he had stayed home and self-isolated since New Year’s Eve.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said it was a mystery case.

Both the MCG and Chadstone Shopping Centre have now been listed as potential exposure sites.

Victorian testing boss Jeroen Weimar estimates this will affect the 7000 to 8000 fans who attended the Test and the “thousands” of people at the busy Chadstone Boxing Day sales.

It comes just a day before Sydney’s SCG is set to host the third Test between Australia and India, and prompted the NSW Government to order all attendees to wear a mask.

The SCG still has a green light to be at 25 per cent capacity on Thursday, when approximately 10,000 fans will attend the start of the match.

But NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, having debriefed with Victorian counterpart Martin Foley on several occasions during Wednesday morning, admitted the MCG case is “obviously influencing our thinking”.

Masks, having previously been strongly recommended for anybody sitting in the SCG stands this week, are now mandatory for attendees.

“The only exception to that is if you’re eating or drinking,” Hazzard said.

“There will be fines imposed on those who don’t wear a mask.

More than 24,000 cricket fans were due to attend the Test, until a virus outbreak in Sydney prompted ticket numbers to be cut earlier this week, amid medical calls for the match to be spectator-free lest it become a “super-spreader” event.

One new SA case

SA Health says one new case of COVID-19 has been confirmed today, from a teenager who recently returned from overseas and has been in an Adelaide medi-hotel since her arrival.

It takes the state’s number of active cases to 11, all of which were acquired overseas. There were 6,254 tests carried out in SA yesterday.

SA Health also said that anyone in SA who was at the Gourmet Cribtin in Broken Hill between 10 – 10:40am on Saturday January 2 should get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the result.

Victoria recorded three new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, with just one coming from a local source and the other two acquired overseas.

It takes the number of active cases in the state to 41.

Testing lifted for a third straight day, with 37,509 swabs processed on Tuesday.

Victoria’s list of exposure sites has almost hit 100, with two clothes retailers and a Sri Lankan restaurant in Melbourne added late on Tuesday.

A known case shopped at the Nike Company in South Melbourne on December 30 from 12:00pm to 12:45pm. Anyone in the store at this time must get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

Other health alerts have been issued for anyone at Melbourne’s Culture Kings store on Russell Street and Tamarind 8 in Narre Warren at specific times.

They are asked to monitor for symptoms and get tested if they develop.

The Victorian government also announced on Wednesday that the return-to-work plan for the public service will be paused for a week.

The current outbreak linked to a Black Rock restaurant in bayside Melbourne, seeded from outbreaks in NSW, prompted the call for a review on Tuesday night.

The public service was due to move into the next phase of return to work from Monday – increasing office capacity to 25 per cent, ahead of a jump to 50 per cent on February 8.

NSW communities on alert

NSW has recorded four new locally acquired coronavirus cases.

One, a man in his 30s from western Sydney, is still under investigation.

“He has no direct links to the Berala BWS or the Berala cluster and so we are being very cautious about finding any of those missing chains of transmission,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said on Wednesday.

Two cases are linked to the Berala cluster, which now tallies 16, and one is a household contact of a previously reported case in the Avalon cluster.

One of the Berala cases is the 18-year-old whose summer camping trip has resulted in several regional NSW communities being put high alert after he tested positive on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old had visited the Berala BWS bottle shop in western Sydney on Christmas Eve.

He then travelled with friends to the regional NSW towns of Orange, Nyngan and Broken Hill.

Orange’s Birdie Noshery and Nyngan’s Riverside Tourist Park are now subject to health alerts, with more venues expected to be added to the list.

Acting Premier John Barilaro reiterated on Wednesday the northern zone of the northern beaches would stay in lockdown until Saturday, as planned.

“We’ll continue to keep restrictions in place as previously flagged, as much as I understand it hurts,” he said.

The Berala cluster is the focus of an urgent investigation, with authorities unsure how a woman who visited the Woolworths next door, but not the BWS, picked up the virus.

The possibility of virus transmission at the Woolworths store means anyone who went there between December 20 and 31 needs to get tested.

And people who visited the BWS over the festive period are being asked to isolate for 14 days.

-with AAP

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