TORONTO – The seemingly innocent sharing of a cigarette lighter could be the source of a COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne, Australian officials said.
Prime Minister of Victoria Daniel Andrews said on Sunday that one of the cases of a known epidemic had been attributed to staff at the Stamford Plaza hotel in Melbourne, which also serves as a quarantine hotel for travelers to return.
Andrews explained that the virus has spread among hotel employees may come from staff sharing a lighter since none of the new cases were related to travelers.
“To the best of our knowledge, we believe that some of these cases may well have come from people sharing a cigarette lighter. Keep their distance, but in the end, share a lighter, one between the other,” said Andrews at State COVID. 19 update, according to 7NEWS.
Although not opposed to public health measures, Andrews said that sharing a cigarette lighter shows how dangerous the new coronavirus is for disease.
“Not a deliberate violation of anything, but one of those things where something apparently innocent can lead to transmitting the virus. This is how infectious it is,” said Andrews.
He added that carpooling among staff may also have contributed to the spread of the virus.
“You can never be sure, but there also seems to have been some likelihood that some employee carpool arrangements could have meant that they were in closer contact than you would like,” said Andrews.
The state of Victoria is experiencing an outbreak of infections after recording its highest peak in a single day in coronavirus cases in almost three months, adding to concern about community transmission.
Of the 49 new cases reported on Sunday, four were from known epidemics, 26 were detected by routine testing and the remaining 19 are under investigation.
Andrews said the state is considering potential home stay orders and suburban blockades to contain these clusters and will also increase restrictions for returning travelers as a precaution.
The Prime Minister has said that the surge in new cases shows how difficult it is to eliminate risks in the fight against COVID-19.
“You will never deliver a model safely, whether it’s hotel-based or home-based, no matter how you do it,” said Andrews. “You will never be 100% risk-free.”