School closures linked to ‘very large’ family

Seven of the 12 cases of COVID-19 announced in Victoria on Monday are from the one family, leading to the closure of two different schools, the state’s health department says.

A total of 11 family members have now tested positive for the infection in households in Melbourne’s northern and southeastern suburbs.

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The extended family, including “a number of children”, live in Coburg, Broadmeadows and Pakenham and had recently gathered together, Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton told reporters.

“The family is very large … they’ve had gatherings across different households as many of us do now,” he said.

“(It’s) no fault of that family.

“I guess for all of us across Victoria it’s still a lesson that if any of us are unwell, if any of our kids are unwell even with mild symptoms then we need to exclude them from seeing others – including scheduled gathering for dinners or celebrations.”

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The Department of Health and Human Services said extensive contact tracing is under way.

Four of the 11 cases in the family are school students, leading to the closure of two separate schools today.

“Two of those linked to the family outbreak are students at St Dominic’s Primary School in Broadmeadows,” the DHHS said in a statement.

“One of these students was at school on Tuesday 2 and Wednesday 3 June, when they were likely infectious.

“The school will be closed to enable contact tracing and cleaning.

“Testing will be undertaken for students and teachers who were at the school from 26 May to 3 June.”

Pakenham Springs Primary School also closed on Monday, for at least 24 hours, after two students from the same household outbreak tested positive for COVID-19.

“One child was infectious when attending on Wednesday 10 June,” the department said.

“The other child was not infectious while at school. Contact tracing is under way.”

Both schools will deep clean affected classrooms and common areas.

A number of angry parents have taken to Facebook to express their concerns about the cluster, The Herald Sun reports.

“I’m so angry that’s in Pakenham now. They need to release the locations of where this family have been,” one parent said.

“The entire school, teachers and parents all should be made to quarantine for 14 days.”

Of the 12 cases reported in Victoria on Monday, seven are linked to the one family, two linked to a patient of Monash Health, one is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, one was identified though routine testing and one case is under investigation.

Earlier this month, Newbury Primary School at Craigieburn closed temporarily after a prep student tested positive for the virus, following a number of school shutdowns in Sydney’s east.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in May warned parents that “undoubtedly you will get cases” of COVID-19 in schools as students return to classrooms for face-to-face learning and adults go back to work.

“But those cases can be managed and those cases can be contained in a strong health system and that’s our focus,” he said.

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