Victoria COVID LIVE updates: Delta strain could extend lockdown; More exposure sites added; Victoria hits back in AFL grand final fight

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Train line among new exposure sites added over weekend

A key train line to and from Melbourne’s north has been added to the long list of Victorian exposure sites overnight after a passenger infected with COVID travelled to the CBD last week.

The positive case travelled on the Upfield line from Wednesday to Friday last week, heading into the city each day from Merlynston train station in Coburg North about 6am and home again about 4pm. The train line has been deemed a tier 2 site.

A large construction site in the CBD has also been added as a tier 1 exposure site from 7am to 4pm on each day from Monday, May 31 to Friday, June 4 after a worker tested positive on Saturday.

Other new exposure sites over the weekend included a high-rise city building, a shopping centre in Melbourne’s north and a wholesaler.

There are now 354 locations on the Victorian government’s list of coronavirus exposure sites.

Strangers a danger in online classrooms

Uninvited and threatening people joined online Google Classroom sessions with Victorian school students on at least three separate occasions last year, amid privacy concerns from parents and schools.

Victorian Department of Education documents obtained under freedom of information laws revealed the incidents, including one in which a teacher was forced to shut down a lesson after an abusive stranger entered an online classroom and attempted to engage in what was described as concerning sexual behaviour.

The Google Classroom application is widely used in Victorian schools.Credit:Getty

The incidents were reported to police, who told The Age their investigations were continuing.

“Police can confirm that Brimbank sexual offence and child abuse investigation team detectives received a report that an unknown teenager made inappropriate comments towards a teacher and indecently exposed themselves in an online forum classroom in April last year,” a police spokesperson said.

An inappropriate email was also sent to a student distribution list from an external Gmail account.

The breaches came amid complaints from parents and schools over online privacy and security relating to the use of Google applications and almost a year after the department was warned of risks to student emails.

The Google education suite, which includes Google Classroom, is a set of popular online learning tools used by public and private schools in Victoria to assist with remote learning.

In May 2019 the eSafety Commissioner wrote to education ministers and department secretaries with concerns that children’s email addresses may be easy to guess, increasing the likelihood “of a person who presents a risk to a child using their school email address to initiate contact with them”.

Read more here.

Victoria hits back in grand final fight

Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane says the Victorian government’s “hopeless” management of COVID-19 means it is “almost probable” the grand final will have to be played away from the MCG for the second year in a row.

But Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula took a swipe back at Cochrane on Sunday and stood firm, insisting he had “absolute confidence” the game would return to the MCG this year. The AFL has declined to comment.

Last year’s grand final was played at the Gabba.Credit:Glenn Hunt

With Melbourne locked down, the Dreamtime match between Essendon and Richmond was played before a sellout crowd at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday night, while next week’s Queen’s Birthday match between Melbourne and Collingwood has been shifted to the SCG.

The MCG is contracted to host the grand final until 2058, but Optus Stadium chief Mike McKenna has declared Perth would be keen to host the decider – which was shifted to the Gabba in Brisbane last year amid Victoria’s COVID-19 outbreak – should the MCG again be unable to host the game.

Perth has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic, with last month’s Western Derby played behind closed doors following a COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia.

Pakula said he had “absolute confidence” the grand final would be played at the MCG and it was too early to be thinking about moving the grand final.

“It is very easy to forget that it is only just over one month ago that we had almost 80,000 at the MCG for the Anzac Day clash,” he said.

“I speak to the AFL most days, the fact that the West Australian stadium or WA government would like the grand final is not news, it is pretty obvious that they would, anyone would want it.

Read more here.

Delta spread key to lockdown call, vaccine supply doubled

Victoria’s acting Premier and deputy Chief Health Officer say they expect Melbourne’s lockdown to be eased as planned on Thursday, but the suspicion of an undetected spread of the more-infectious Delta coronavirus variant could still extend the city’s stay-at-home orders.

Health authorities said it could take weeks for a full picture to emerge about whether there is a hidden spread of the variant, which is now centred on positive cases in North Melbourne and West Melbourne.

Acting Premier James Merlino with Allen Cheng, the state’s deputy Chief Health Officer.Credit:Justin McManus

They said widespread testing will be crucial to their decision-making to assure them the variant hasn’t spread undetected throughout the state, as they work to contain at least 70 locally acquired COVID-19 cases.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said about 5 per cent of Victorians had been tested since the latest outbreaks, providing the government with increasing confidence there has been no large unseen outbreak of the Delta variant.

“But there’s always that risk,” Professor Cheng said, adding that public health advisers would need to make a judgment call later this week about whether there was likely unseen spread. “With the passage of time, we get more comfortable … that there’s no hidden transmission going on after one, two, three weeks.”

His comments came as federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government would release additional Pfizer doses for Victorians along with extra AstraZeneca shots, which had been requested by the state government.

“We will provide an extra 100,000 Pfizer vaccines to the Victorian government over a three-week period, commencing from the 14th of June,” Mr Hunt said.

The number of AstraZeneca doses for Victoria will be doubled to 230,000 without affecting supply to other states.

Read more here.

Welcome to our live coronavirus coverage

Good morning and welcome to our free, live coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

I ate breakfast alone in the semi-dark this morning while the rest of my household slept. One of the benefits of lockdowns, I suppose. No rushing about getting ready for work or school. The kids’ computers, exercise books and class meet timetables are set up at the kitchen table and ready to go – and I’m closing the door to my bedroom now and only opening it for coffee deliveries 😉

We’ll bring you all the numbers, news and press conferences today as they happen. And as always, please keep an eye on the long list of exposure sites on the Victorian coronavirus website, and if you have any symptoms – a fever, a sore throat, a cough – you can find a list of testing sites here.

Oh, and if you’re over 40 or eligible in other ways, find the information to get your corona jab right here.

I’m Hanna Mills Turbet and I’ll be with you until mid-afternoon.

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