Victoria records five new coronavirus cases

Victoria has recorded five new cases of the coronavirus, as authorities race to contain an outbreak that has put five Melbourne suburbs and a public housing block on high alert.

The latest cases have all been linked to known outbreaks or close contacts.

The 14-day statewide average has fallen to 6.4, down from 6.6 on Wednesday, and no new deaths have been recorded overnight with the state's death toll remaining at 817.

There are still 10 active mystery cases in Melbourne, which is unchanged since Wednesday.

An urgent health warning has been issued for five suburbs in Melbourne's north after a primary school student who should have been isolating sparked the new outbreak that has been linked to two schools and a public housing block.

Residents in Dallas, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Preston and West Heidelberg have been urged to get tested immediately, even if they have no symptoms.

Pop-up testing sites have opened at Northland Shopping Centre (open seven days, 9am to 5pm), Roxburgh Park Youth and Recreation Centre (open seven days, 9am to 12.30pm and 1-5pm), and at Banyule Community Health Heidelberg West (seven days, 10am to 4pm).

The outbreak started with a student at East Preston Islamic College and a close contact has been identified at Dallas Brooks Primary School. Both schools have been closed for deep cleaning.

The cluster has also been linked to cases at a social housing block in Broadmeadows, where 120 residents have been asked to self-isolate for 48 hours and get tested.

Of the three new COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday, two were linked to the "northern metro region community outbreak". The third case was a household contact of a known case.

Associate Professor Sanjaya Senanayake from the Australian National University Medical School told the Today show the northern suburbs outbreak is "certainly worrying but that does not mean that the health authorities can't get this under control".

"We were hoping that Melbourne and Sydney, these big cities, could actually get rid [of], or eliminate COVID but it looks like that's going to be really difficult. Unfortunately, life is likely to be periods of very low cases, punctuated by potentially super spreading events like this.

"What's really important is that these events are identified early and that there is a quick, good response, which the government seems to be doing at the moment."

Professor Senanayake said Victoria's response to the latest outbreak was reasonable.

"So-called ring fencing, where certain areas are shut down while the testing is being done and people are identified with the virus and until the outbreak is over … that is not an unreasonable thing, but while life in the rest of the city continues on as normal."

However, he said a large outbreak could jeopardise Victoria's hopes of easing restrictions for hospitality and retail businesses this weekend.

"Good contact tracing is important, but certainly in the first few days, you need to try and identify all the cases and try and work out who those contacts are. So having this focused blitz early on is really important and will determine how successful your contact tracing is."

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