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Vic medi-hotel leak linked to new variant outbreak

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A man who contracted the infectious Delta COVID-19 strain mistakenly opened his room door soon after entering hotel quarantine in Melbourne, but Victorian authorities are downplaying the chances this incident caused transmission.

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Health officials have linked an outbreak of the Delta strain in Melbourne to the hotel quarantine case, a man in his 40s, who returned from Sri Lanka on May 8.

They are now scrambling to work out the connection, with health officials believing it is most likely the man transmitted the virus to a staff member while in transit or to a fellow guest.

Genomic sequencing shows his infection is identical to one of two families linked to the North Melbourne Primary School, which has emerged as the epicentre of the West Melbourne outbreak.

But it remains unclear how the virus was transmitted from the returned traveller – who lives in the suburban Glen Eira area in Melbourne’s southeast – to the infected family.

The man initially stayed at the Novotel Ibis Hotel before testing positive and transferring within 24 hours to the Holiday Inn “health hotel”.

During his stay at the Ibis, the man opened his door while a staff member was in the corridor.

But Emma Cassar, the head of COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria, says this incident is unlikely to be the reason for the Delta variant spreading.

“The only IPC (infection prevention control) breach is when this resident opened (his) door for less than a minute – he thought there was a knock on the door (but) it was a room further up,” Cassar said.

“He even acknowledged the staff member on the floor was more than six metres, so it’s not enough for a transmission event … he would have had very low levels of infectiousness at that point.”

She added the worker in the corridor was wearing an N95 mask and a face shield.

The City of Whittlesea cluster, which triggered Melbourne’s current lockdown and is separate to the Delta cluster, is linked to a Wollert man who caught the virus at Adelaide’s Playford medi-hotel.

An SA Health report said the man most likely caught the virus because of the opening and closing of doors in the hotel corridor.

Meanwhile, acting Premier James Merlino says Melbourne and regional Victoria remain “on track” for eased restrictions at 11.59pm on Thursday.

-with AAP

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