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Second Melbourne school closes after teacher tests positive for COVID-19

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Coronavirus has closed another Melbourne school because of a staff member testing positive for the illness.

Three more coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Western Australia while the virus has closed another Melbourne school and a Queensland university.

Two men and one woman, who flew in to Perth from the United States and Europe, have tested positive to coronavrius, WA's Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson confirmed.

Dr Robertson said all were separate cases and were "imported", not person-to-person transmissions.

It comes just hours after the Australian Medical Association's state division said serious consideration needed to be given to banning mass gatherings and closing schools.

The latest cases bring the state's diagnosed case total of COVID-19 to nine. 

Three new cases in Victoria

Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah Colleges at St Kilda East confirmed this morning a positive test came back for a staff member who returned on flight QF94 from the US on Friday morning.

"As a result, we have closed the school for 24 hours to assess the situation," the college said in a statement.

It follows the closure of Melbourne's Carey Baptist Grammar and three Sydney schools.

The teacher at Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah Colleges is aged in his 50s and became unwell on March 7 after returning home to Melbourne from the USA. 

According to Victoria's Department of Health, the teacher worked half a day at Yeshiva-Beth Rivkah College while infectious.

A number of students are being tested for the virus with results expected to come back today.

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People are seen lining up to get tested for Coronavirus at the Royal Melbourne Hospital  on Tuesday 10 March 2020.

"We will then make contact with families and identify anyone who could have been impacted from within the school, and where possible, the greater community," the school said.

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The infected teacher is one of three new cases confirmed overnight bringing the state's total to 21.

The 19th case is a man in his 50s who returned to Melbourne from Seattle on March 7 on Virgin Australia flight VA24.

He is now recovering in home isolation while passengers on the same and adjacent rows on the flight are being contacted.

Three close contacts, including two children, are being provided support and education and monitored closely for signs and symptoms of illness. All are self-isolating at home for 14 days.

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Premier, Daniel Andrews, the Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos, and the Chief  Health Officer, Brett Sutton.

Prior to being diagnosed, the man visited a number of public events including a jazz festival at South Melbourne Market on March 7 between 2pm and 3.30pm. Later that day he attended a Rugby Union match between the Rebels and Lions at AAMI Park where he sat in section 9.

The second and third new cases, including the teacher, were on flights from the USA which have had confirmed COVID-19 cases in passengers this week (UA0600 and QF94). Both cases are recovering in home isolation and acquired the virus in the USA.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the two people who contracted the virus after returning from the United States were likely to have been infected while overseas opposed to on the flight.

"They became unwell very soon after arrival, so it's very likely that they picked it up in travel in the US," he said.

The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, said while the situation is currently still in the containment phase, it is inevitable that there would be "extreme and widespread disruption" as the virus spreads.

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"Its not a matter of if but a matter of when," he said.

Carey Baptist Grammar has been shut down after an adult member of the school community developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

"It's not a matter of panic or wanting to scare people. It's simply being as honest and up-front as we can."

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the health system will be challenged in coming weeks however authorities are deploying more resources where needed to bolster the system.

Ms Mikakos confirmed 1039 people presented themselves to the seven screening clinics in Victoria yesterday.

To date, more than 14,500 calls have been placed to the Victorian coronavirus hotline alone.

"We are seeing an increase demand and we thank people for their patience."

Southern Cross University to close

The Gold Coast's Southern Cross University will be the first Australian university to close its doors to students after an internationally-based staff member tested positive for coronavirus.

The man tested positive for the virus yesterday before returning home to the Philippines on Sunday.

Last week the teacher attended multiple workshops and classes and the university is now in the process of contacting 45 people he is believed to have been in close proximity with during that time.

UQ Great Court, St Lucia campus

Meanwhile the University of Queensland (UQ) has issued a warning after a confirmed case of coronavirus attended classes on campus.

In a letter to UQ students, Vice-Chancellor Peter Hoj confirmed a 22-year-old student who had travelled to Spain, Italy and France and visited the campus on Thursday, March 5, and Friday, March 6.

"UQ continues to follow government advice and is operating as usual," he said, adding the university was observing global developments.

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Queensland Health will be contacting anyone who may have been in contact with the student.

Prison fears

There are growing fears a prisoner at Melbourne Assessment Prison may have contracted the COVID-19 virus.

9News understands a prisoner is in isolation and is being tested for the virus with results expected to return today.

The prison is not yet in lockdown however it is taking precautionary consideration.

NSW cases on steady rise

NSW still accounts for more than half the national total of confirmed coronavirus cases with six new cases confirmed yesterday and overnight.

The total number of cases state-wide is 61 with a two Sydney school still closed today after cases were confirmed among staff and students.

Epping Boy's High School has been forced to shut down today after a year 11 student tested positive to Covid-19.

The new cases include four people, a male and female in their 50s and a male and female in their 60s who recently arrived from overseas from the USA, Switzerland and Italy.

A woman in her 30s, who is related to a deceased resident from Dorothy Henderson Lodge Aged Care Facility, has also contacted the virus.

The sixth case of a woman in her 40s remains under investigation.

Source: 9News

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