Virus numbers spike

There have been coronavirus cases linked to Cedar Meats Australia. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 208195_01

Tate Papworth

Brimbank has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the state.

As of Thursday, 15 of 53 confirmed cases in the municipality were active.

The number of cases has skyrocketed by 20 in the past fortnight following an outbreak at the Brookyln-based Cedar Meats abattoir.

Sixty-two cases have so far been linked to the factory, including one staff member at Sunshine Hospital.

Two dozen hospital staff were forced to self isolate after a worker from the factory, who had emergency surgery on a severed thumb, later tested positive for the virus.

Western Health chief executive Russell Harrison confirmed the positive test on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately one of the Western Health staff members in self-quarantine following exposure to a patient who was later diagnosed with COVID-19, has since tested positive for the virus,” he said.

“Western Health is providing all the necessary supports for the staff member, who continues to self isolate at home and we will continue to liaise closely with them.”

On Thursday, Premier Daniel Andrews defended his government’s handling of the outbreak.

“I am very proud in the public health team in the response that they have provided to every positive case and this outbreak was singled out by Brendan Murphy, the Chief Medical Officer of the Commonwealth, singled this out at national cabinet as a model example of how to deal with an outbreak,” Mr Andrews said.

The first case within the abattoir was confirmed a month ago.

The government said the infected worker at the time said they had not been at work for a number of weeks.

Mr Andrews said he had no reason to think the government was provided false information.

“Regardless of where you work, if you say, ‘I have not been to work for four weeks’, then we take you on face value. The assumption is that people are giving us the accurate story,” he said.

“If we assume that everyone wasn’t, I don’t know if we could ever have enough contact tracers. We wouldn’t need 1000, we would need 100,000 perhaps. It would become impossible.”