More than 150,000 Victorians have been tested for COVID-19 as part of a two-week testing blitz, which authorities will use to inform how restrictions will be lifted in the state.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said 20 cases were detected as part of the testing drive who were not linked to other known cases.

“These are 20 cases that otherwise potentially would not have been identified in the community through regular screening,” she said.

“So I think that’s a positive result, that of the very significant number of swabs that have been collected … that to date we’ve only had about 20 cases that tested positive.

“We know how contagious this virus is and how easily it spreads.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined a three-step plan agreed upon by the National Cabinet to move to a “COVID-safe economy” by July.

Despite criticism from Federal Government MPs and the State Opposition, the Victorian Government has stuck with its original plan to reveal new rules on Monday, the day the current State of Emergency comes to an end.

Officials are using data from the massive statewide testing blitz to decide how and when to ease restrictions.

There were 10 new coronavirus cases diagnosed since yesterday, taking the state’s total to 1,487 cases.

One case is from the growing coronavirus cluster linked to the Cedar Meats Australia in Melbourne’s west, taking the total number of cases connected to the abattoir to 76.

One returned traveller in hotel quarantine tested positive for COVID-19, and eight cases are under investigation.

There has been no increase in the number of community transmission cases, which currently sits at 157.

Ms Mikakos said public health officials were still waiting for the final results of the tests and had been doing a lot of work on the preconditions necessary for easing restrictions.

“It’s about more testing, more tracing, it’s about how we respond to outbreaks,” she said.

“We’ll have more to share about those matters soon but a lot of work has been undertaken because we know we will continue to see outbreaks.

“Until we get to zero the risk is always there.”

The testing continues today and anyone with even mild symptoms can get tested at any of the drive-through sites across the state.

Hospital staff member, McDonald’s worker test positive

One of the positive tests has been linked to a staff member at Kyabram Hospital, north-west of Melbourne.

A small number of staff are being tested and are in self-isolation for 14 days, Ms Mikakos said.

No patients or residents fit the criteria of being a close contact, she said.

A second employee of a McDonald’s restaurant at Fawkner has also tested positive.

A spokesperson said the store in Melbourne’s north was closed “out of an abundance of caution” to deep clean the premises.

Ms Mikakos said the first staff member had not been at work while they were infectious and the second tested positive after working one shift.

Food Standards Australia has said there is no evidence the virus can be transmitted through food or packaging.

More to come.


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