Hospital workers laid off over staff case

Melbourne's Prahran Market is undergoing a deep clean after a customer later tested positive.
Melbourne's Prahran Market is undergoing a deep clean after a customer later tested positive.

Dozens of workers at a Melbourne hospital have been temporarily laid off after a fellow staffer worked a shift while infectious with COVID-19.

The Casey Hospital employee returned a positive test on Tuesday and it is believed they caught the virus in the community.

In a statement to AAP, a Monash Health spokesman said the staffer did not work in a front-facing role and is not thought to have had any interaction with patients.

But they worked one shift during their infectious period, forcing 41 employees of the outer southeast Melbourne hospital to be furloughed as they await test results.

Professor Rhonda Stuart, director of Monash Health's south east public health unit, said staff identified as close contacts will be offered support.

It comes as authorities insist Victoria is "winning" the race against its latest coronavirus outbreak, despite recording its highest daily total of new cases this year.

Twenty six locally acquired cases were reported in Victoria on Thursday, all linked to the current outbreak, which originated in NSW and now totals 133 cases.

Twenty four were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period, while the remaining two cases had limited exposure to the community.

Health Minister Martin Foley said within three days Victoria had gone from only six per cent of new cases isolating while infectious to 92 per cent.

"With the help of all Victorians during this lockdown ... we remain confident that we can still get ahead of this," he told reporters on Thursday, the seventh day of a statewide lockdown.

One of the two cases infectious in the community is a woman connected to the Trinity Grammar cluster, whose sole exposure site is a petrol station in the Gippsland region she visited as she made her way home to Melbourne to self-isolate on Sunday afternoon.

She was praised by authorities for her "exemplary" behaviour, including disinfecting her credit card before paying for petrol.

The petrol station has been listed as a tier-two exposure site.

The other case, linked to the AAMI Park outbreak, visited Prahran Market and Market Lane Coffee last Saturday between 9.40am and 11.15am.

The entire market has been listed as a tier-one site exposure site, with about 900 people who visited during the time period required to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.

It is believed the case contracted the virus while queuing outside Gate 7 of AAMI Park before the Australia-France rugby union test match.

Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie said it was too early to say whether lookdown would end as planned at 11:59pm on July 27, but he is confident authorities have a handle on the outbreak.

"I'm feeling like we're certainly winning the race, it's a question of just keeping going so hard to the finish line," he said.

He praised the "heroic" efforts of Victorians, including some 19,000 primary close contacts self-isolating across the state.

There are five in hospital with COVID-19, including one returned traveller from hotel quarantine, and a man linked to the current outbreak in intensive care.

Some 43,674 tests were processed in the 24 hours to Thursday morning, while 14,230 Victorians received a vaccine dose at one of the state-run hubs.

It comes as a 48-year-old woman from Victoria died of the incredibly rare blood clotting disorder related to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

While acknowledging the deaths were tragic, Professor Cowie emphasised the vaccine's low mortality rate.

"It is one in a million," he said.

The Victorian government on Thursday expanded Pfizer eligibility at state-run vaccination centres, with all frontline workers now eligible for the mRNA jab regardless of their age.

Australian Associated Press