The Box Hill Hospital employee started the northern suburbs outbreak

The Box Hill Hospital employee started the northern suburbs outbreak
The Box Hill Hospital employee started the northern suburbs outbreak
There are 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 25 close contacts among households.

Confirmation of the link between the outbreaks came hours after Prime Minister Daniel Andrews delayed his much-anticipated announcement of the next phase of Melbourne’s reopening, sparking a storm of criticism led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victoria’s former Health Secretary Jenny Mikakos.

Mr Morrison hit the Prime Minister again, saying he was deeply disappointed with the delay, adding that Victoria’s public health systems “are either up to the task of dealing with future outbreaks or not”.

Ms. Mikakos said the decision indicated a “paralysis of decision-making” in the Victorian government. They joined a chorus of criticism from corporate groups, saying the delay was a blow to confidence and jobs.

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The prime minister said the government would have to wait for the results of thousands of tests before it could be sure to re-allow limited shopping and dining.

Mr Andrews is waiting for the results of around 500-700 tests before holding his daily press conference this afternoon.

Government hopes for an early reopening were bolstered late Sunday as negative results were returned for more than 1,100 tests conducted in the northern suburbs.

Victoria’s commander for tests and community engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said 2,100 test results were processed on Sunday and the tests continued into the evening.

Mr Weimar said the lack of new cases from these tests was a “good development”.

Anyone who has symptoms or has an identified close contact is encouraged to get tested. Test sites are available in the five northern counties of Banyule, Darebin, Hume, Moreland and Nillumbik, including in schools, local parks, shopping malls and in traditional health settings.

There are currently 39 cases related to the outbreak, including cases related to East Preston Islamic College and Croxton Special School.

Staff working on a ward at Box Hill Hospital were told not to use highly protective N95 masks as a precaution against the disease. Age Revealed earlier this month.

A leaked email exchange revealed that the hospital’s supply of N95 masks was reserved for those working with patients at highest risk and others were not allowed to wear them “even if they buy one”.

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Melissa Cunningham is The Age’s health reporter.

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