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Second resident at Melbourne’s Arcare aged care facility tests positive for COVID-19

A second resident has tested positive for COVID-19 at Arcare’s aged care facility in Maidstone, in Melbourne’s west. 

Arcare chief executive Colin Singh said the 89-year-old man tested positive on Wednesday. He is a close contact of the first resident who contracted the virus at the facility earlier this week, and had been fully vaccinated. 

“Arcare is saddened to report that we have one additional resident at our Maidstone residence who has tested positive to COVID-19 today,” Mr Singh said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. 

“The 89-year-old resident is a close contact of the first resident to contract COVID-19 at Arcare Maidstone and is in an adjacent room.

“They will be transferred to hospital for public health reasons, coordinated by the Victorian Department of Health.”

The facility confirmed further testing would take place on Thursday, with additional workers arriving to support one-on-one activities throughout the day.

It comes after a worker tested positive to the virus on Sunday, sending the facility into lockdown. 

On Monday, another resident, the son of the worker and a second worker tested positive.

The latest infection is in addition to the six new locally-acquired cases recorded in Victoria on Wednesday. 

It comes as Melbourne’s lockdown was extended by a further seven days as health officials remain concerned about a coronavirus variant that is “quicker and more contagious than we’ve ever seen before”.

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino announced the lockdown extension for Melbourne on Wednesday, but said some restrictions would be eased for regional Victoria.

“If we let this thing run its course, it will explode,” Mr Merlino said. “We have to run this to ground, because if we don’t, people will die.”

Following the Arcare outbreak, Victorian aged care and disability workers will be able to jump the queue at 10 vaccination centres across the state from Wednesday as part of a five-day jab blitz.

Express lanes exclusively for aged care and disability staff will open from 9am to 4pm, with workers needing to show proof of employment.

There are more than 5,000 close contacts self-isolating as part of the outbreak and more than 350 exposure sites across the state.

Professor Sutton said about 10 per cent of current cases caught the virus through “fleeting exchanges” with infected people.

“We do have a suspicion that there has been transmission two hours after an infectious case has left an indoor enclosed space,” he said.

“That’s in the… measles category of infectiousness.”

Professor Sutton said he had “great confidence” restrictions would be eased at the end of the week.

But Mr Merlino said even if all goes well, there will be no travel from Melbourne to regional areas over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

To help soften the blow to business, the government is expanding its support package from $250 million to $460 million.

Mr Merlino again called on the federal government to provide wage subsidies to those affected by the extension.

In the 24 hours to midnight Wednesday, 51,033 people were tested for COVID-19 and 20,585 were vaccinated.

– Additional reporting by AAP.

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