Health officials concerned by how little it takes to spread this virus

The strain of coronavirus that has sent Victoria into lockdown has been spreading in the community via only fleeting contact, the state’s COVID-19 response commander says.

Three more locally acquired cases of coronavirus were recorded overnight, bringing the total number in the outbreak to 54. None of the new cases are in aged care.

Jeroen Weimar said authorities were now concerned about examples of transmission with very little contact between cases.

“They’re brushing past each other in a small shop, they’re going around a display home … they’re looking at phones in a Telstra shop,” he said.

“They don’t know each other’s names, and that’s very different from where we’ve been before.

“We think it’s primarily a feature of the Indian variant which is that it is just that much more contagious.”

He said it was possible that this kind of contact had occurred at exposure sites throughout the city.

“It is entirely possible that we’ve seen this kind of fleeting contact in any of these locations, possibly others, so please use the exposure list as the guide,” he said.

“With previous variants, we are more used to transmission really occurring in the home, in the workplace or where people know each other [and are] really having a lot of contact, or those big social settings,” said Mr Weimar.

Because of these highly contagious individuals, Mr Weimar especially urged anyone who visited the following exposures in particular to get tested as soon as possible.

“We’re really keen to see people come forward who have been to some of these busier shopping centres where we have seen a number of positive cases move around a number of times,” Mr Weimar said.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton flagged an additional eight exposure site locations of concern in an email update on Tuesday afternoon.

A mystery case of coronavirus that emerged in a Melbourne aged care worker on the weekend has now been genomically linked to the South Australian hotel quarantine outbreak.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the Arcare Maidstone Aged Care case had been linked to the South Australian case that leaked out of hotel quarantine and seeded Victoria’s most recent outbreak.

“The genomic sequencing has confirmed that that case is directly linked to the South Australian hotel outbreak,” Mr Foley said.

“That is at least confirming in our mind that this is over one related cluster, from the South Australian hotel.