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High-risk worksites in spotlight as more outbreaks hit abattoirs, hospitals – The Age

Coronavirus clusters have emerged at two Melbourne abattoirs, while outbreaks spread to another inner-city public housing site and more hospital workers, with Victoria’s case tally surging by 273 on Sunday.

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“It becomes challenging when there are hundreds of healthcare workers who are furloughed, who have been close contacts … and do 14 days of quarantine,” he said. “That’s a strain.”
Professor Sutton revealed 28 residents of public housing towers in Carlton had tested positive to coronavirus, sparking a new testing blitz and deep cleaning.
Premier Daniel Andrews Premier said 57 people were in Victorian hospitals with coronavirus on Sunday.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui
However, the Carlton towers will not be subject to the same police-enforced lockdown as the nine public housing buildings in North Melbourne and Flemington, where one tower remains in hard lockdown and 237 cases have been confirmed a jump of almost 80 new cases from Saturday.
Professor Sutton announced a new outbreak among 11 workers from Somerville Meats meatworks in Tottenham on Sunday. It joins JBS Meats an abattoir two kilometres from Cedar Meats in Melbourne’s west where a cluster grew by four on Sunday to at least five workers as active outbreaks.
“The entire workforce is effectively in quarantine, very broad testing is being done and those numbers will be controlled by virtue of that,” he said.
Professor Maximilian de Courten, a public health expert with Victoria University, said abattoirs unavoidably met most criteria of a high-risk working environment, meaning coronavirus could spread at speed.
“It’s humid, people are close together, they work hard for long periods, there’s poor ventilation inside,” Professor de Courten said.
“Face masks can help but are not easy in those environments. If you’re working intensively and you’re concerned you can’t get enough air, you’re less inclined to use a mask. Or you might rub your nose, the mask slips down and your protection is gone. In theory it works, but in some workplaces it’s not so easy.”
Professor Sutton said Victoria was continuing to forge through unknown territory in its second surge, saying the state’s six-day series of triple-digit increases could be brought down within a week if Victorians adhered to social distancing and got tested.
“I don’t know what to expect with this. We have to reinforce that it is in everyone’s hands,” Professor Sutton said.
“We havent even got to a peak with this epidemic. We have to throw absolutely everything at it. Its the public health challenge of our lifetime … I do know if we do the right thing, we can absolutely turn this around and beat it. We must.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said 57 people were in Victorian hospitals with coronavirus on Sunday, including 16 in intensive care, and Victoria had 1484 active cases.
Sunday’s 273 new cases follow 216 on Saturday and 288 on Friday.
With more than 100 outbreaks active in Victoria and contact tracers working “relentlessly”, Professor Sutton said health officials had been monitoring an uptick in cases at the Carlton public housing towers over the past week and it was not necessary to introduce tougher lockdown measures.
Residents in Carlton’s public housing have tested positive, but a lockdown like in North Melbourne (pictured) is not on the cards.Credit:Getty Images
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