Hospital staffer contracts COVID-19 after exposure to meat plant worker

A hospital staff member in Melbourne's west has tested positive to coronavirus after being exposed to a patient who worked at Cedar Meats.

Hospital staffer contracts COVID-19 after exposure to meat plant worker

A hospital staff member in Melbourne's west has tested positive to coronavirus after being exposed to a patient who worked at Cedar Meats.

Western Health confirmed to 9News the employee became infected with the virus after the patient attended the Sunshine Hospital to receive emergency treatment on April 23, prior to diagnosis of COVID-19 or developing symptoms.

CEO Russell Harrison said the worker was one of 24 employees who had been in self-quarantine since the plant worker was later diagnosed with COVID-19.

Victoria has recorded 19 new COVID-19 cases connected to a cluster at Cedar Meats, a meat processing facility.

"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," Mr Harrison said.

"Our thoughts are with our colleague and their family.

"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."

No other staff members have tested positive to the virus at this time.

Victoria has recorded 17 new cases of coronavirus, including another four infections linked to the outbreak at the Brooklyn meat plant.

Virus cases at Cedar Meats have surged to 49, with mostly abattoir workers infected.

The Department of Health confirmed the first case of the cluster was diagnosed on April 2, but since the person had not been at the plant for four weeks, the workplace was not considered an exposure site.

The second case linked to the facility was diagnosed on April 24, followed by the plant worker on April 26, who earlier attended Sunshine Hospital.

Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton told 3AW he was confident the original source of the cluster had not stemmed from a worker who tested positive for the virus in early April. 

A total of 34 coronavirus cases have now been linked to the Cedar Meats plant in Brooklyn.

"I have been told that, that early case wasn't part of the cluster - wasn't on site," he said.

Prof. Sutton said the early cases linked to the cluster were known, but it remained unclear how the outbreak emerged.

"People can have really mild symptoms and we'll really struggle to understand who introduced it and when, but somebody's brought it into the facility."

Authorities began contact tracing once the second person tested positive to the virus.

9News understands Cedar Meats only found out there were COVID-19 infections prior to April 27 during a phone call with the Department of Health last night.

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General manager Tony Kairouz said in a statement all 350 staff had been tested for the virus.

"From the time we became aware that one of our staff had contracted the virus we had kept our staff closely informed," he said.

"By Thursday 30 April we mandated to all staff that they had to get tested for COVID-19. We worked closely with DHHS and by the end of the day Friday 1 May, all staff had been sent for testing."

Victoria has a total of 1440 cases of COVID-19. Among the new cases, seven were from overseas travellers in mandatory hotel quarantine and six remain under investigation.

There are 145 cases that may have been acquired through community transmission. Currently eight people are in hospital, including six patients in intensive care.

A total of 162,000 tests have been conducted in the state.

Cash boost for casual public sector workers

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has announced 3000 of the state's casual workers in the public sector would be entitled to a cash boost of $1500 per fortnight before tax, if they lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The support package would last until September and would see workers redeployed to other areas in the public sector experiencing a surge in demand, such as healthcare.

Mr Pallas said the scheme was necessary due to casual public sector workers such as swimming pool lifeguards, staff at the Melbourne Aquatic Centre, ticket staff at the Melbourne Museum or the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, being ineligible for the JobKeeper program.

"We are protecting thousands of jobs for casual public sector workers who have been stood down due to coronavirus," he said.

"These workers are not eligible for the Commonwealth's JobKeeper payments so we're stepping in and making sure they get the support they need to make it through to the other side of the crisis."

The fortnightly payment scheme will be funded through the support of all three tiers of government, federal, state and local councils, meaning ratepayers will foot a percentage of the cash boost.

Source : 9 News More