1000 Victorians refuse COVID testing as outbreak worsens
Almost 1000 Melbourne residents have refused coronavirus testing as large swathes of suburbs are forced back into lockdown while Victoria scrambles to contain outbreaks fuelled by bungled hotel quarantine.
Victorian health officials confirmed 928 people in two critical Melbourne suburbs would not submit to a voluntary COVID-19 test as part of a blitz to identify underlying infections in the community.
A significant number of coronavirus cases in Melbourne have now been conclusively traced back to staff working in quarantine hotels failing to isolate, prompting Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to beg other states to take all passengers from international flights for two weeks.
But it's understood none will be redirected to Sydney, as NSW is already carrying most of the international quarantine load.
About 30 per cent of arrivals in Victorian hotel quarantine had refused to take a COVID-19 test before it was made compulsory this week.
It comes as the looming threat of a different pandemic from China has seen pigs being nasal swabbed to test for an new flu strain.
In the wake of COVID-19, Chinese scientists believe the new virus they have found in pigs - dubbed G4 EA H1N1 - can easily transmit from animals to humans.
Another 64 cases of coronavirus were identified in Victoria yesterday, all from community transmission, with residents in 10 postcodes across Melbourne ordered to stay at home except for school, work, exercise and buying food from today.
Police will actively enforce the suburban lockdowns, with on-the-spot fines issued to anyone caught outside without a valid reason.
Mr Andrews criticised the hundreds of residents in the suburbs of Broadmeadows and Keilor Downs who had refused testing in the blitz leading up the lockdowns.
"If someone offers you a test on your doorstep, please say yes," he said.
He said a genomic sequencing report, which can provide deeper insight into the links between coronavirus cases, had confirmed the link between hotel quarantine staff and the Melbourne clusters.
"At least a significant number of outbreaks in the north of the city are attributable to staff members in hotels," said the Premier, who has ordered an inquiry.
The federal Government has been asked to divert international flights away from Melbourne for the next fortnight.
"I will have conversations with other state leaders to explain that and to thank them in advance of the extra load that they will carry," Mr Andrews said.
The NSW Government has spent more than $50 million on quarantine accommodation for returned travellers since March 29, and expects to recoup about 35 per cent of this from other states.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has long been urging Mr Andrews to lock down his problem suburbs, adding that she wanted NSW residents to avoid potentially infected Melburnians.
But she has rejected formally closing the NSW-Victorian border.
"You are the boss of who comes into your home, do not allow anyone from a hotspot in Melbourne, or from greater Melbourne to come into your home," she said.
"You have the right to say no, please."
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday announced her state would go ahead with the plan to reopen borders on July 10, however Victoria will remain barred.
She accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of allowing "border wars" to erupt between states and territories over the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
Meanwhile, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall is reserving judgment as to whether NSW residents will be allowed into his state from July 20 as previously planned.
Mr Marshall yesterday ruled out the return of Victorians, but has not made a decision on NSW yet.
Originally published as Nearly 1000 Victorians refuse COVID testing as outbreak worsens