Baby in NICU unit diagnosed with coronavirus


UPDATE: A baby fighting for life in hospital is among the latest COVID-19 patients.

A cluster has emerged connected to the Royal Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit - where the state's most fragile and premature babies receive lifesaving care.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer has confirmed four cases are linked to the hospital's Butterfly unit.

As well as an infant patient, the COVID-19 cases include two parents and a healthcare worker.

All babies in the NICU, as well as staff and the parents of babies who have spent more than two hours on Butterfly Ward since 12 July will be tested.


EARLIER: Australia's biggest daily coronavirus increase has been announced in Victoria today, with 532 new COVID cases confirmed.

Six Victorians have died overnight, five of which are linked to aged care facilities.

It would make it the worst day since the pandemic began.

The previous highest tally was 484 on Wednesday, July 22.

It comes as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed she would not hesitate to close the border to NSW if necessary. 

Travellers who have been in Fairfield are now barred from entering the state. 

A further four schools have closed on Monday following positive tests for coronavirus.

Lalor Secondary College, Copperfield College's Sydenham campus, Melbourne Girls' College, Gladstone Park Secondary College and Gisborne Secondary College have all closed for cleaning and contact tracing.

Gisborne Secondary College, which urged staff and students to wear masks almost two weeks ago, also closed on Saturday following a positive test.

Principal Jonathan Morley, in a letter to parents late on Sunday night, said the school was working with the Department of Education and Training and Department of Health and Human Services.

"This closure will allow time for the school and DHHS to undertake a risk assessment and determine what further steps are necessary, such as appropriate cleaning of the school site and contact tracing,'' Mr Morley wrote.

"The school will be closed to all students, staff and members of the community.

READ MORE: Premier will slam border shut to more NSW hot spots

"All students are asked to stay at home until further advice is provided, including Year 11 and Year 12 students.

"I realise this is difficult news, and I would like to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our whole school community.

"We have acted quickly and we continue to follow the advice from DHHS and DET on this matter."

It's unknown whether the first person who tested positive was a staff member or student.

But it was found they did not attend school while infectious and DHHS' investigations deemed there was therefore no need for cleaning.

The school is in the Macedon Ranges municipality, which has eight active coronavirus cases.

It borders the Hume and Melton municipalities which are virus hotspots.

The case at Lalor Secondary College is understood to be a student.

A staff member at Copperfield College's Kings Park campus tested positive in March, but it is unknown whether Monday's closure is because of a student or staff member's positive test.

Inner suburban Melbourne Girls' College is in the Yarra local government area which has 133 active cases is not a super hotspot, and is tightly zoned around suburbs including Richmond, Hawthorn, Kew but is semi-select so accepts girls from all over Melbourne.

Parents were texted and emailed overnight and told there would be no school today for Year 11 and 12s and Year 10s who are on site for VCE and VCAL subjects.

It is unclear if the positive test is a student or a teacher.

The Richmond school told families there would be no remote learning today for any year levels.

"Our school has been advised of a reported case of Coronavirus," acting principal Brent Houghton told parents.

"All students are asked to stay at home until further advice."

The school said it would be closed for 24 hours as a precautionary measure. It was awaiting further advice form the Department of Health and Human Services.

Gladstone Park Secondary College, in the hot spot local government area of Hume, has closed again today for three days after a positive case.

The school closed for one day last week.

Hume has 354 active cases as of yesterday with 763 total positive cases.



Critical days were lost in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 across regional Victoria when Colac abattoir workers were told they did not need to isolate while awaiting test results.

Workers went to pubs, supermarkets and moved about the town for two days after being tested following a positive confirmed case at the lamb processor on Friday, July 17.

At least 47 cases have since been linked to the outbreak, raising fears for the town ­outside the hard Melbourne lockdown.

A flyer handed to workers on the Friday by testers from Colac Area Health, on the advice of DHHS, informed workers they did not need to isolate. They were not deemed close contacts.

"It may take a few days for your test results to come back," the flyer read.

"You do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your results if you are feeling well."

But that advice was changed two days later by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton who reclassified all 750 workers as close contacts.

The Australian Lamb Company abattoir in Colac Victoria was the site of a coronavirus outbreak
The Australian Lamb Company abattoir in Colac Victoria was the site of a coronavirus outbreak

Staff then received a text that day updating them on the advice and telling them to self-isolate for 14 days.

A relative of a meatworks employee said the town was on edge, waiting to see how far the virus had spread over those two days.

"The messages, although that letter has been rectified, caused confusion and was misinformation," the relative said.

"People are terrified. Our whole community in the Colac Otway Shire are seriously jumpy."

The relative of a worker told the Herald Sun when staff were told at the start of their shifts on Friday, the day before the abattoir was closed for at least a fortnight, they were in "clusters" and were not social distancing.

The Herald Sun believes workers completed their shifts that morning and were then sent home, before being called back later that day and the next for testing.

"They were going home, mingling with housemates, going to the pub and supermarket," a relative of a worker who wished to remain anonymous said. This was totally avoidable."

The Australian Lamb Company said all workers employed at the site had since been instructed to quarantine and the abattoir was working with health authorities.

A DHHS spokesman said advice for workers changed once more cases were found.

"Asymptomatic testing was taking place at the site when they had a small number of cases," the spokesman said. "As more cases became evident the approach to testing changed, as is standard practice.

"A local incident control centre has been set up to manage the outbreak. "

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said it was within the power of local health authorities to classify all workers at a worksite as close contacts.

"In areas where there is more likely to have been transmission … the public health officials, if they deem it appropriate, will be more conservative with (the close contact) definition, so a shorter contact might be used to define someone who might need a test or need to isolate," Dr Coatsworth said.

Daniel Andrews said it was a "very significant outbreak".

"That particular workplace is a workplace-based outbreak and there's a really concerted effort, a significant team of people working to support that business, its workforce, the local town and Colac Health," the Premier said. "It's a very significant challenge but one I think that we're equal to."

The Colac blunder came three months after the Cedar Meats abattoir outbreak that infected 111 people, which Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said at the time was handled "perfectly" but Mr Sutton later conceded could have been managed better.





Originally published as Abattoir quarantine blunder derailed coronavirus fight