Thousands to get Covid-19 tests after infected fan attends Melbourne match

Further restrictions may be required as Victoria scrambles to deal with cluster of cases

People wait in queues at a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Melbourne, Australia. Photograph: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of Australian Rules football fans have been ordered to self-isolate and get tested for Covid-19 after an infected person was among 23,400 people to attend a match on Sunday.

The state of Victoria added the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to a growing list of coronavirus hotspots as it reported six new locally acquired cases on Wednesday. The 100,000-capacity former Olympic stadium was included on the list of virus-exposed locations in Melbourne with dozens of new venues including supermarkets, cafes and pubs.

A fresh cluster of Covid-19 cases had grown to 15 in three days and the state said that the next 24 hours were particularly critical.

The state's acting premier, James Merlino, said he would not rule out further restrictions for the capital Melbourne.


“These cases are linked and that’s a good thing, but we are very concerned by the number and by the kind of exposure sites,” he said.

On Tuesday, masks were made mandatory in restaurants, hotels and other indoor venues in the city of five million until June 4th and limits were placed on the number of people who could attend gatherings.

Of the 15 cases, six were newly reported on Wednesday, the largest daily rise in the state since October 2020. Authorities have identified 301 close contacts of the people infected and said that so far 80 have returned negative results.

The cluster has been traced back to an Indian variant of the virus found in an overseas traveller who had completed quarantine, but officials have not worked out how it spread into the wider community.

Australia’s use of swift contact tracing, local shutdowns and tough social distancing rules have helped keep its Covid-19 numbers relatively low compared with other developed countries. It has recorded just over 30,000 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began.

A wave of Covid-19 cases hit Victoria late last year resulting in the state accounting for about 70 per cent of total cases and 90 per cent of deaths in Australia. That outbreak was only brought under control after a long and strict lockdown. – Reuters