Melbourne aged care worker diagnosed with coronavirus

A Melbourne aged care worker has been diagnosed with coronavirus just days after working at a nursing home with vulnerable residents.

The Assisi Centre staff member last worked on Wednesday at the home in Rosanna, in Melbourne's north-east, ahead of developing any symptoms.

Assisi Centre in Rosanna.Credit:Wayne Hawkins

Assisi Centre chief executive Paul Cohen informed families of the diagnosis on Monday, but said health authorities had deemed the case low-risk.

"I am sorry to inform you that one of our staff, who last worked in St Claire on Wednesday March 25, has today tested positive for COVID-19. She is the first one of our staff to test positive for the virus," Mr Cohen said in a letter, supplied to Nine News and seen by The Age.

"We discussed the matter with the Department of Health this morning and have been told they do not consider this case to be a risk to our residents. This is because she became unwell two days after her last shift. Despite this, I wanted to let you know."

No residents have tested positive to the coronavirus, but Mr Cohen said Assisi Centre had increased screening and cleaning.

In Sydney, four residents of aged care facility Dorothy Henderson Lodge have died from the coronavirus.

The Rosanna aged care worker is the ninth healthcare worker in Victoria to test positive, on top of four staff at Mercy Hospital, three at The Alfred Hospital and a Toorak GP.

The case is the first-known diagnosis at a Victorian nursing home.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he was not aware of the case, but said authorities were closely monitoring aged care.

"Certainly nursing homes are a huge risk, we understand the vulnerability of everyone who lives in nursing homes, it's a closed setting so transmission becomes really difficult to manage," Dr Sutton told Nine News.

He said aged care staff who feel unwell should immediately self-isolate.

"It doesn't mean that we're going to have an outbreak if a staff member has become unwell."

Assisi Centre specialises in aged care for the Italian community.

'It doesn't mean that we're going to have an outbreak if a staff member has become unwell.'

On March 14, an online update from Mr Cohen said that staff who had travelled to high-risk countries would not be rostered for two weeks.

"We are suspending external lifestyle activities including visits by the kindergarten children and the men's choir."

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Melbourne construction worker tests positive for COVID-19

A Melbourne construction worker has tested positive for COVID-19 in what may become a pressure point in the industry's bid to remain open through the coronavirus crisis.

A statement from the CFMEU on Thursday said the employee was at work shortly after coming home from an overseas trip, but prior to the government's mandatory self-isolation rule for returning travellers and visitors.

Knock off time: construction workers leave a city building site on Tuesday with far less than the advised 1.5 metres between them.Credit:Joe Armao

"Upon feeling unwell, he did not return to work and was tested the following day," the union's statement said.

"After receiving a positive result of COVID-19, he contacted his employer who immediately shut down the site, contacting the DHHS and the CFMEU.

"All employees who were working on site were contacted straight away. Those who were identified
as being in ‘close contact’ with the diagnosed employee were forced to quarantine for 14-days."

The statement said the workers who were self-isolating had so far shown no symptoms.

Construction is one of the state’s biggest industries, accounting for 9 per cent of Victorian jobs and a shutdown under further government restrictions would have enormous ramifications for the state.

Both unions and construction companies insist their work must continue, despite acknowledging some sites are not observing strict social distancing rules

The CFMEU said the infected employee's worksite had been cleaned by a specialist company to "hospital-grade" standards and work had now resumed.

"The CFMEU and the building and construction industry stakeholders will continue to enforce all
necessary hygiene and social distancing measures with the upmost importance to ensure the
collective health and safety of the entire community during this difficult time," the statement said.

"Currently, the national cabinet’s stance is that the building and construction industry is deemed an
essential service and the CFMEU and industry bodies will continue to work through this challenging
period, abiding by all government rules and enforcing strict social distancing and hygiene practices
in all sites to ensure the health and safety of workers and their families."

The union said any builder or site that did not follow COVID-19 guidelines set out to protect workers' safety should be reported.

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Melbourne passes $10m stimulus package aimed at small business

A shopper wearing a face mask in Melbourne’s CBD.Credit:Paul Rovere

Melbourne City Council has passed a $10 million COVID-19 stimulus package, which includes grants for small businesses, the suspension of street trading fees, rent reductions and ramped up cleaning measures.

The council also flagged it would by the end of the month reduce rates for people experiencing hardship in a special meeting on Tuesday night to support businesses, as Melburnians desert the city due to coronavirus fears.

The package includes:

  • $500,000 in grants to support businesses to develop e-commerce and online services
  • Up to $1 million for training and support at businesses
  • A virtual business support summit at Melbourne Town Hall
  • Suspending fees for Food Act registrations and street trading and outdoor dining permits for three months
  • Halving rent for eligible tenants in council-owned buildings for three months
  • Deploying casual and part-time cleaners
  • Establishing a support service to provide advice to struggling businesses

The summit will be held in partnership with the Victorian government, the Department of Health and Human Services, the federal government, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Deputy lord mayor Arron Wood said cash flow would be a pressing issue for small businesses in the near future.

“This is the first package of support and we will be doing more over the coming weeks to assist our local business community," he said.

Lord mayor Sally Capp said businesses would be affected by the state-wide emergency measures announced on Monday, including social distancing.

“The economic impacts from this virus will be significant and we’re encouraging everybody to support local businesses wherever they can," she said.

Cr Capp said the council would work with Queen Victoria Market's management to provide support to traders, including recommending rent reductions.

"Queen Victoria Market is the lifeblood of our city and we're doing everything we can to support traders affected by the downturn,” she said.

“We're doing everything we can to help businesses stay open and keep Melburnians in jobs."

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Your weekend in Melbourne February 29 to March 1


Composer and conductor Joe Hisaishi.

CLASSICAL The music behind cult Japanese animated films Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and others from director Hayao Miyazaki will be performed live by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at Music from the Studio Ghibli Films. Composer Joe Hisaishi leads the evening in front of montages from the films, supported by a children’s choir and marching band. Sunday, 7.30pm, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $80-$187,
1300 182 183,

Former resistance fighters in the band Maubere Timor.Credit:Nick Miller

CULTURAL Indigenous music troupe Maubere Timor sings stories of the fight for East Timor’s independence. Made up of former members of the East Timorese resistance, the band combines traditional island sounds with modern musical influences. Saturday, 8.45pm, Spotted Mallard, 314 Sydney Road, Brunswick, $25,  9380 8818,

Guitarist Slava Grigoryan.

CLASSICAL  Be transported to the Sicilian countryside with an afternoon of classical guitar by the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra (MCO), kicking off the 2020 season with Italian Guitar. The MCO is joined by guitarist Slava Grigoryan to perform the works of Giuliani, Verdi, Handel and Vivaldi. Sunday, 2.30pm, Melbourne Recital Centre, corner of Sturt Street and Southbank Boulevard, Southbank, $57-$137, 9699 3333,

POP Former Spandau Ballet lead singer Tony Hadley returns to perform his latest solo album, Talking to the Moon. Expect to hear hits from his former band such as True and Gold as well as new singles including What Am I, a reflection on Hadley’s decision to leave Spandau Ballet. Saturday, 7pm, Forum Melbourne, corner of Flinders and Russell streets, city, $90, 1300 111 011,


Black Ties at the Arts Centre for Asia TOPA festival.Credit:Garth Oriander

COMEDY When Maori corporate high-roller Hera meets Aboriginal consultancy entrepreneur Kane, it’s love at first sight. Less simple is planning a wedding with their two families. Black Ties is a comedy from ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Te Rēhia Theatre and is performed as part of Asia TOPA. Saturday, 1pm and 7pm, the Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $30-$65, 1300 182 183,

Last Words explores the vulnerability of memory.Credit:

PLAY A collaboration between the Kadimah Jewish Cultural Centre and the Jewish Holocaust Centre, Last Words asks ‘‘What remains when memory is lost?’’ The play explores the vulnerability of memory, based around co-devisor and director Joseph Sherman’s experience watching his parents develop Alzheimer’s. Spoken in English, Russian and Yiddish, Last Words follows Sherman’s parents’ life pre-and-post WWII in the Soviet Union and St Kilda in the 1970s. Sunday, 2pm and 6.30pm, Kadimah Jewish Cultural Centre, 7 Selwyn Street, Elsternwick, $25-$45,  9923 7465,

A O Lang Pho, a Vietnamese “bamboo circus” performance, is part of the Asia TOPA festival.Credit:Nguyen The Duong

CIRCUS Witness dizzying acrobatic feats with A O Lang Pho, a bamboo circus combining contemporary dance, theatre and stunts to build an expanding metropolis. Translating as ‘‘from village to city’’, the show is directed by former Cirque du Soleil choreographer Tuan Le and is performed to a live score of traditional Vietnamese music.Saturday, 2pm and 7pm, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $30-$106, 1300 182 183,


MARKET The Tallarook Farmers’ Market is the only accredited market in the Mitchell Shire and features produce from farmers in the Goulburn Valley. Pick up tomatoes and tomatillos from Somerset Heritage Produce, stock up on beef sausages from Chantlan Livestock and Produce, or try some Heathcote-grown wine by Peregrine Ridge.  Sunday, 9am-1pm, CWA Park, Railway Place, Tallarook, free entry,

TALK Cyber Electric is an annual play-reading series that sees actors present works-in-progress alongside directors and editors. This year’s works tackle themes of relationships, identity, family and ethics. Saturday, 4pm and 7.30pm, Southbank Theatre, corner of Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street, Southbank, $8,  8688 0800,

FESTIVAL Pop-up market Sustainable Living Festival features eco-friendly products from small and local businesses. Learn about local community groups and NGOs, or wander through a tiny house. Saturday, 6am-4pm, Sunday, 9am-4pm, Queen Victoria Market, corner of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, North Melbourne, free entry, 9320 5822,

FESTIVAL Headlined by local electronic dance band Art vs. Science, BeerFest returns for an afternoon of small-batch craft brews, ciders and boutique spirits from more than 65 local vendors. There will be food trucks serving up dishes designed to pair with beer and live comedy from Aussie favourites such as Luke McGregor and Lewis Garham. Saturday, 1pm-8pm, Catani Gardens, St Kilda, $15-50,

Celebrity chef Elizabeth Chong.Credit:Justin McManus

FOOD Prominent Australian figures are transported back to pivotal moments in their lives at Double Delicious. Guests including writer Benjamin Law, chef Elizabeth Chong and performer Raghav Handa prepare the dishes that have been significant in their lives as they combine storytelling and cooking. Saturday, 5.30pm and 8.30pm, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford, $65-85, 9415 3600,

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