Local COVID-free streak grows, more cases linked to Australian Open

January 21, 2021 BY

Some of the Australian Open tennis players not in hard quarantine - including Italy’s Simone Bolelli and Argentina’s Maximo Gonzalez, seen here - can train for up to five hours a day. PHOTO: LUIS ASCUI/AAP

VICTORIA is rebuilding its streak of days without locally-transmitted cases of coronavirus, but more infections have been recorded among Australian Open players and staff.

Yesterday (Wednesday, January 20) marked 14 days without a local case, but of the four new cases in hotel quarantine reported in the previous 24 hours to Tuesday this week, three were linked to the contingent in town for the grand slam.

More than 70 players – almost a fifth of those taking part in the Australian Open – have been forced into strict quarantine after nine people on their charter flights to Melbourne tested positive for COVID-19.

Speaking on Tuesday, Premier Daniel Andrews indicated some of the cases linked to the tournament would be reclassified as non-infectious shedding.

It could mean some players will be allowed to leave their rooms for training.

“If you’ve got, say, 30 people who are deemed a close contact because they’ve been on a plane with a case, and the case is no longer an active case but a historic shedding, well, that would release those people from that hard lockdown,” he said.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has warned the virus could still be incubating in some of the 1,200 people who have arrived in Melbourne for the Open since Thursday last week.

Cases have been linked to three flights, from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Los Angeles.

“People may still turn positive, obviously the last exposure was when they last left their country of origin or indeed on a flight where there was a case,” Professor Sutton said on Monday.

“So there might be some more positives in coming days but that that will take place over time.”

Meanwhile, 25 of Sydney’s 35 local government areas were downgraded from “red” to “orange” zones on Monday this week as part of Victoria’s traffic light permit system.

The Blue Mountains and Wollongong also moved from red to orange, while 16 local government areas along the NSW-Victoria border changed from orange to green, permitting unrestricted entry.

People travelling from an orange zone still need to apply for a permit online and get tested within 72 hours of their arrival in Victoria, isolating until they receive a negative result.

It follows the downgrading of Greater Brisbane from red to orange at the weekend.

Sydney local government areas Blacktown, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Inner West, Liverpool, Parramatta and Strathfield remain red zones as of Tuesday this week.

The 10 areas were all linked to Sydney’s Berala cluster, which totals 35 cases.

For the latest updates, head to dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.