Sydney, Australia, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- Ninety-nine percent of the COVID-19 infections that have emerged in the Victoria state outbreak originated in quarantine hotels for international arrivals, an expert told an inquiry into the facilities on Tuesday.
“It is likely that a high proportion, approximately 99 per cent of current cases of COVID-19 in Victoria have arisen from Rydges or Stamford (hotels),” said Department of Health and Human Services epidemiologist Charles Alpren, according to national broadcaster ABC.
The outbreak, detected at the end of June, has accumulated more than 17,200 infections, including 351 deaths, in Victoria, while the authorities maintain a strict lockdown on the 5 million inhabitants of the city of Melbourne until mid-September.
The rest of the state is under social restriction measures to stop local infections.
The epidemiologist also said that genome sequencing indicated that 90 percent of the current cases in Melbourne can be traced back to a family of four that returned to Australia on May 9 and was confined to the Rydges on Swanston hotel.
The expert clarified that “the transmission event or events” in the two quarantine centers have not been identified, but it is believed this family was allowed to walk outside their room, accompanied by security guards.
Alpren’s assertions coincide with those of Ben Howden, a director at the Doherty Institute, who on Monday told the inquiry that 99 percent of the cases registered at the end of July in Victoria were linked to three “transmission networks,” with cases originating in returned travelers before spreading.
The data suggest that the epidemic has reached its peak and is beginning to stabilize in Victoria, which today reported 222 new cases and 17 deaths.
The neighboring state of New South Wales, which has also been affected by the Melbourne outbreak, reported three new cases on Tuesday and included the city center of Sydney, along with other nearby neighborhoods, on its list of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Australia, which has registered 24,000 cases since the start of the pandemic and 438 deaths, had reactivated its economy after supposedly suppressing the coronavirus until the outbreak in Melbourne. EFE-EPA