Two people who attended the races on Melbourne Cup Day have tested positive to coronavirus.
The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) confirmed the cases included a contractor and a patron.
The contractor worked at Flemington Racecourse on Derby Day, as well as on Melbourne Cup Day.
The two cases are fully vaccinated and not linked.
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“The VRC is working closely with the Department of Health which has been very supportive of the Club’s COVIDSafe Event Plan and management of the two cases and the conduct of the COVIDSafe event of the Melbourne Cup Carnival,” the VRC said.
“The safety of all patrons, staff, racing participants and horses is the VRC’s top priority.”
The contractor who tested positive worked two full days in The Arbour in the Purple Zone on the ground floor of the Club Stand.
Patrons and staff who attended the area are considered to be low risk, according to advice from the Department of Health.
“Based on this, patrons and staff are advised to monitor their health and get tested if they develop any symptoms,” the VRC said.
Meanwhile, the COVID-positive patron attended the deck bar within the Green Zone on Cup Day.
The person’s two social close contacts, who are also fully vaccinated, have been contacted by the Department of Health.
Patrons who attended the deck bar on Cup Day are being contacted directly via SMS by the VRC and staff have also been contacted.
People have been advised to monitor their health and get tested if they develop any symptoms.
“VRC is in contact with staff with recommendations for testing.”
The VRC said two venues have been deep cleaned and will be ready for safe operation for Stakes Day on Saturday.
“Any other patrons and staff who have not been contacted via SMS directly in relation to these cases are not considered to be at risk.”
Border restrictions ease
Border restrictions in Victoria and New South Wales have eased overnight, allowing free movement between the two states ahead of Christmas.
Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer yesterday declared that from 11.59pm last night all remaining orange zones in NSW and the ACT would become green zones, permitting unrestricted travel into the state.
Travellers will still be required to obtain a green zone permit, but they will not need to get tested or quarantine upon arrival.
The relaxing of border measures means for the first time in more than six months, all regions in Australia will be classed as green zones under Victoria’s permit travel system.
There are no restrictions for fully vaccinated Victorians entering NSW, except if they have been to a location of high concern in Victoria.
Unvaccinated Victorians aged over 16 years are also not permitted to enter NSW for recreation or a holiday.
Victoria’s COVID-19 cases grow, hospital funding announced
A total of 82 per cent of the state’s eligible population are fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
There are 634 Victorians in hospital with COVID-19 and 109 patients in intensive care.
However, dozens of COVID-19 patients are reportedly missing from the state’s official hospitalisation figures, The Age reports.
It is understood the reason for the discrepancy is that patients who are no longer infectious are not counted in the figures, even though they may still require ongoing care.
The Victorian Government today announced a $307 million package to boost capacity in Victoria’s public hospitals as a surge of COVID-19 patients fill up beds.
The state’s Hospital in the Home program will receive an injection of up to $87 million so COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients can be cared for in the comfort of their own homes.
The initiative is set to free up more than 100 public hospital beds in Melbourne. Funding of $42 million will also allow the COVID Positive Pathways program to employ more than 150 extra staff.
Ambulance Victoria will receive more than $40 million to boost its capacity to manage the surge in callouts.
Royal Melbourne Hospital CEO Christine Kilpatrick said while the surge in patients had been “difficult” to manage, the increasing number of people getting vaccinated had reduced the percentage of patients in hospital and ICU beds.
“At the moment we are managing, it’s tough on our frontline staff who are fatigued,” she said.
“It is not easy. But we do have systems in place and we know how to manage this.”
Austin Health CEO Adam Horsburgh said the hospital system was under immense strain, but the hospital remained “well prepared”.
“The system is under enormous pressure,” he said.
“I would expect in the coming weeks and months that we will see ongoing demand in our emergency department, in our intensive care departments … and overall.”
It is predicted Victoria will hit its double dose vaccine milestone around November 24, triggering a large easing of COVID-19 restrictions that will see Victoria almost return to “normal”.
“We are still confident about the 24th of November,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday.
“I think we are going to be seeing more and more people returning to the office.”
As vaccine coverage continues to soar, more events and functions have been confirmed as going ahead.
Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight will welcome back live audiences this year, with up to 10,000 people permitted at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.