Thursday’s matches at Australian Open warm-up events at Melbourne Park have been cancelled after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive for COVID-19.
Up to 600 players and support staff connected to the season’s first grand slam will have to isolate until they have been tested after a worker at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne, who had worked his last shift last Friday, returned a positive result on Wednesday.
“We will work with everyone involved to facilitate testing as quickly as possible,” Tennis Australia, organisers of the February 8-21 event, said.
“There will be no matches at Melbourne Park on Thursday. An update on the schedule for Friday will be announced later today.”
“There’s a number of – about 500 or 600 people – that are either players and officials and others who are casual contacts,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday.
“They will be isolating until they get a negative test. And that work will be done tomorrow (Thursday).
“At this stage, there’s no impact to the tournament proper.”
It was not immediately clear which players could have come in contact with the worker.
Andrews rejected suggestions it was the worst-case scenario for the Open and said the first grand slam of the year would be going ahead.
“I wouldn’t describe it in those terms,” he said.
“We’ve got one case. We’re going to work very hard to keep numbers as low as we possibly can.
“Decisions have been made, and we’ll proceed as we can.”
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The infected man last worked at the Grand Hyatt on January 29 and undertook a nasal test at the end of that shift, returning a negative test result at that time but he subsequently showed symptoms and returned a positive test on Wednesday.
The lead-up to the Open had been thrown into chaos when four positive coronavirus cases were detected from charter flights carrying tennis players, coaches and officials to Melbourne almost three weeks ago.
Some 72 players were forced to quarantine for two weeks with things going relatively smoothly until this latest positive test.
While there’d been complaints from some players about the conditions and enforced quarantine, Nick Kyrgios was having none of it.
Before the announcement from the premier on Wednesday Kyrgios said there’d be no complaints from him if he was forced into a two-week lockdown somewhere else this year.
“It’s not about me. My mum is incredibly sick,” Kyrgios said.
“There’s too much risk in all of this.
“I don’t understand what’s so hard for tennis players to understand. Like, you’re just a tennis player. Do you know what I mean?
“It’s not life and death like this is.”
Victorians must again wear face masks and limit household gatherings after a Melbourne quarantine hotel worker tested positive to COVID-19, possibly contracted from an international tennis player.
The 26-year-old man from Noble Park in the city’s south-east visited numerous public places and shops before returning a positive test on Wednesday.
He had been employed as a “resident support worker” at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt, where scores of international tennis players have been quarantining after arriving for the Australian Open. He worked his most recent shift last Friday.
It’s not yet known if the man is carrying a potent offshore strain of the virus.
“Through an abundance of caution, we’re assuming the worst. I think that’s always a smart thing to do,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters overnight.
A number of hotel quarantine security guards last year contracted COVID-19, sparking Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus which killed hundreds of people and led to months of lockdown.
Mr Andrews called for calm and urged widespread community testing as he confirmed the latest positive case.
“This is one case. We are all well trained and well schooled in what to do as a state,” he told reporters overnight.
Health authorities are awaiting further genomic test results to confirm the origin of the man’s virus. Those results are expected on Friday.
Close contacts of the man are in isolation and have so far returned negative tests.
Earlier on Wednesday, health authorities confirmed the transmission of a coronavirus case between guests in separate hotel quarantine rooms.
Two separate groups of guests in opposite rooms at Melbourne’s Park Royal Hotel tested positive for the more infectious UK variant of the coronavirus.
It’s possible the transmission could have occurred during a brief door opening as guests collected food.
The hotel’s ventilation system is being reviewed despite an earlier report finding no air was being shared between rooms or into common spaces.
Some 100 hotel quarantine staff members and 37 returned travellers who have completed their 14 days on the impacted floor are now self-isolating at home. None have yet tested positive.
NEW COVID-19 CASE SITES
Visitors to the following venues at the specified times must isolate for 14 days and get tested:
Saturday, January 30:
* Club Noble, Noble Park, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
*Aces Sporting Club, Keysborough, 10pm – 11.15pm
Sunday, January 31:
* Northpoint Cafe, Brighton, 8.10am – 9.30am
* Kmart Keysborough, 4pm – 5pm
* Kmart Brandon Park, 4.30pm – 5.10pm
* Coles Springvale, 5pm – 6pm
Monday, February 1:
* Bunnings Springvale, 11.30am – 12.15pm
* Melbourne Golf Academy, Heatherton, 5.15pm – 6.40pm