Melbourne suburbs on alert as new COVID-19 case sparks outbreak fears

·1-min read
A healthcare worker records a patient's details at a testing facility near Melbourne
A healthcare worker records a patient's details at a testing facility near Melbourne

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Residents in five suburbs in Australia's second-largest city have been put on alert and people living in a public housing block urged to self-isolate after a new coronavirus case in a school sparked fears of a fresh outbreak.

Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, is just emerging from a second wave after a hard lockdown since July helped bring down daily COVID-19 cases to single digits in recent days from a peak of 700 in early August.

Authorities have asked people in the affected suburbs and 120 residents living in a public housing block to get tested if they experienced any flu-like symptoms.

Coronavirus cases could spread rapidly in the densely populated public housing buildings and in early July, nine high-rise housing blocks in Melbourne were placed on a hard lockdown for several days.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Victoria health authorities were responding effectively to the new virus clusters in the state.

"There will be outbreaks, it could be in any state or territory but if we have strong systems, we can take care of it," Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, on Thursday reported five new COVID-19 cases, the ninth straight day of single-digit rise in new cases.

Australia has recorded just over 27,400 COVID-19 infections, far fewer than many other developed countries. Victoria accounts for more than 90% of the 905 deaths nationally.

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Sam Holmes)