Australia's Victoria state says next 24 hours critical as COVID cluster grows


Essendon players acknowledge their fans after the round 10 match against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.

On Wednesday, strict restrictions were imposed on all Victorian-based clubs with players and staffers recommended to only leave their homes for playing, training and essentials.

But the worsening situation in Victoria means the Suns-Hawks game in the Northern Territory is set to be canned.

The AFL is yet to finalise its re-jigged plans for the match.

It means the AFL will now have to seek an exemption for the Adelaide Crows to travel for Sunday's clash with Richmond at the MCG.

The Bombers and the Blues flew out of Melbourne on Wednesday, several days earlier than planned.

The Sydney Swans are hosting Carlton at the SCG on Sunday, but Giants Stadium has no games planned on that day.

Anyone who has attended a close contact exposure site needs to get tested for COVID-19 immediately, contact ACT Health on 5124 6209 and then quarantine for 14 days from the date they were last at the site even if they receive a negative result.

The MCG and Marvel Stadium are amongst the exposure sites and three bars in the inner suburb of Prahran remain a "concern".

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The stadium is one of a growing list of venues across Melbourne visited by positive cases, leaving state health officials rushing to test and trace across the city of five million, which endured a hard four-month lockdown after an outbreak previous year.

That includes one Australian Rules football fan who attended the clash between Collingwood and Port Adelaide which drew a crowd of more than 23,000 to the famed Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Acting Premier James Merlino today announced a seven day lockdown starting from midnight tonight as the latest cluster out of Melbourne continues to grow.

"Our contact tracers are identifying and locking down the first ring, second ring and third ring within 24 hours", he said. "We have got a critical period in front of us", Merlino told reporters on Wednesday.

A Bulldogs staff member visited a shopping centre when it was a coronavirus-exposed site.

The match - which was originally scheduled to be played on Saturday night - will be rescheduled later in the season.

He told media that the coronavirus strain in Victoria - which was caused by a hotel quarantine breach in South Australia - is the most contagious variant they've encountered and many in the state have potentially been exposed, with "10,000 primary and secondary contacts who need to quarantine or test and isolate".

These new cases are linked to the four initial infections reported on Monday, and all carry the Indian variant of the virus, which is "at least as infectious" as the United Kingdom variant.