An extensive police investigation is underway following the death of a mother and her three children at a home in Melbourne’s north-west area.
The corpse of Katie Perinovic, along with her three-year-old son Matthew and two daughters Claire and Anna, aged seven and five, were found in their Tullamarine home last Thursday.
48-year-old, Tomislav Perinovic, who is the husband of Ms Perinovic and the children’s father, called for emergency services to report the said deaths.
According to the police, Mr Perinovic has been very cooperative with the police’s enquiries, however, they pointed out that speculations are relevant as the investigations are ongoing.
Thus far, no one has been charged over the deaths and homicide detectives do not believe anyone else is involved.
When asked if murder-suicide was a possibility, Bob Hill, the Acting Deputy Commissioner cited, “There is a number of possibilities, and that’s one that could possibly be relevant to this particular event”.
On the other hand, police authorities declined to hand further input on the investigation. Meanwhile, a small number of detectives and uniformed police stayed at the Burgess Street home during the morning and the house was cordoned off behind police tape.
As a physiotherapist, Ms Perinovic was very known in the neighbourhood as she was dubbed “the best mum” and “one of the nicest people you’d meet”.
In addition, a neighbour described the children as “gorgeous, very friendly and happy”. Neighbour and friend Marie Groves said a day later “it still hasn’t really sunk in properly”.
She said “It hasn’t sunk in that I’m not going to walk out the door and see her walking past to the milk bar and picking up pizzas with the kids. I’m not going to be able to be at the park and see Matthew jumping on the trampolines.”
According to Ms Groves, her children were friends with Matthew, Claire and Anna, and Ms Perinovic was “such a feature of the neighbourhood”. “She was Katie, smiley face Katie, who would always stop and chat,” she added.
As investigations are carefully carried out, Acting Assistant Commissioner Mark Galliott revealed on Thursday that the unexpected loss of life, which included three children, was difficult to comprehend.
“This will have long-lasting effects on the police that attended, on extended family, the community, the neighbourhood, the emergency services and everybody else involved,” he said. They’ll be lifelong memories that they’ll have to deal with and so we’ll make sure that the welfare of our members and the emergency services that attended are paramount.”
As of now, police are encouraging anyone with substantial information that might help with their investigation to contact Crime Stoppers.
It comes as another two coronavirus cases were confirmed on Thursday afternoon, while Victoria will close its border to all of New South Wales from 11.59pm on January 1.
Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said there was no other option given the escalating situation in Victoria, where eight cases of COVID-19 have now emerged in 24 hours.
They include five detected today, following three positive test cases that emerged yesterday.
The locally acquired positive cases include a child under 18, a woman in her 70s, two men in their 70s and a man in his 40s.
All cases are linked to each other with 70 close contacts of the combined cases now in isolation.
The new cases follow three cases announced on Thursday morning, and another three announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The state government has rushed to introduce new restrictions.
From 5pm, the limit of people allowed in homes will be halved from 30 to 15, potentially throwing into chaos New Year’s Eve plans for Victorians who had been urged to celebrate with friends and family at home.
Masks will also be mandatory indoors from 5pm, without exception outside of private homes.
There are no changes to outdoor gatherings, hospitality venues and shops.
Earlier advice stated children under the age of 12 weren’t counted in indoor gathering numbers, but the state government later clarified the exemption to children less than 12-months-old.
Acting Premier Jacinta Allan said the reintroduction of restrictions followed public health advice.
“If you are planning to leave your home at the moment, we ask people to carry their masks with them, we are now asking them to wear a mask if they are indoors in any location which is not their private home,” she said.
It comes as the DHHS coronavirus hotline was inundated with calls on Thursday night.
The department in a tweet said it was experiencing a “very high number of calls to the hotline”.
“We understand that this is a stressful situation and we apologise for delays,” it said.
Anyone calling about the NSW border closure and the latest restrictions was urged to check the state government’s coronavirus website.
CONCERNS RAISED AS TESTING FACILITIES CLOSED
Fears have been raised about Victoria’s COVID response after a Federal MP complained three testing facilities near an outbreak site were closed today.
La Trobe Liberal MP Jason Wood took to social media today and criticised three sites near Foundation Gate Shopping Centre.
DHHS has told anyone who visited Fountain Gate’s Kmart, Big W, Target, Millers, King of Gifts or Lo Costa stores on Boxing Day between 9 and 11am to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Mr Wood posted that the Casey Fields (160 Berwick-Cranbourne Road), Berwick (7 Gibb street, Berwick) and Pakenham’s IYU Recreation Reserve testing sites were closed, with people told to come back tomorrow.
He told the Herald Sun this can’t happen Friday.
“If this goes on for too long, people might not get tested,” he said.
“We put out a warning that if you’ve been to Fountain Gate go get tested, but so far the three testing sites in La Trobe in the afternoon are all closed.
“What happens to all these people?”
A DHHS spokeswoman said the testing stations “will be fully stood up over the weekend”.
“We have boosted all our resources at the testing stations in the last few days,” she said.
“New testing sites are being established in areas of expected greatest need.
“Any Victorian with the mildest symptoms who hasn’t been tested – should get tested.”
CITY VENUES PACKED FOR NYE CELEBRATIONS
Thousands of people filled outdoor dining areas in the CBD to toast the end of 2020.
Lauren Fletcher, her husband Andrew Fuller and her sister Susie Fletcher donned Happy New Year hats and glasses and went for a meal at Supernormal in Flinders St.
Mrs Fletcher, from Port Melbourne, said they were determined to end the year on a positive note.
“We’re just excited to be out in the city so we’re going to make the most of it,” she said.
Several streets and laneways were blocked off as people filed in for the New Year Street Feasts food festival involving 52 restaurants.
There was a restrained air to the celebrations, with many dressed up for a fancy meal to end 2020 in style.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp and former Premier Steve Bracks were among the crowd enjoying the festival.
Apart from the designated dining precincts, most other city streets were oddly quiet compared to the usual bustle of revellers jostling to get a good spot to watch the firework display.
At Chin Chin in Flinders Lane, Aerron Joseph and Taylah Perrin were toasting the end of 2020.
The couple, from Berwick, said the year had been a challenge but they were hoping for happier times in 2021.
“We’re among the lucky ones that can go out and do this,” Mr Joseph said.
“We’ve got a few friends who are in New South Wales that are rushing to get back here so we consider ourselves lucky to be able to celebrate in style.”
Pastuso restaurant supervisor Yesenia Callalli Mesia said they were having a Latino-style party at the Peruvian restaurant in AC/DC Lane.
“It’s been quite a year and I think people want to at least have a moment of normality,” she said.
“Even though we live in really bad times we are trying to do our best to make it feel like it’s still normal.”
YOUTHS MOVED ON IN ST KILDA
Police have descended on a group of youths near a barbecue area at St Kilda beach where one male was escorted away in handcuffs about 10.15pm.
Police said the man was apprehended for “criminal offences” while a dozen youths were moved on following anti-social behaviour.
A friend of the man apprehended said: “He was just swearing at one of the police officers“.
“They just cuffed him to calm him down. We were just sitting there.
They (police) were going through the bags,” he said.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere is vibrant in Acland Street where people flocked to outdoor areas.
Dale Smith and his partner Kya Gelb toasted the end of 2020 with a pizza and pasta “date night”.
“We just wanted to have a bit of an easier night; spend a night together,” the couple from Greensborough said.
“We didn’t want to get our hopes up and plan something big,” they said, adding they were opting to walk around the foreshore when the clock struck midnight.
With no fireworks this year, the usually popular party precinct was down in numbers this year.
The few that braved the nipping breeze either posed for photos in front of the sunset that glistened over the bay or enjoyed a casual stroll or dinner with loved ones or friends.
Despite the nipping breeze, Simar Singh and his partner Sakshi Chaudhary, both 26, sat by the beach arm-in-arm.
“We don’t know yet where we’re going,” Ms Chaudhary said, after they missed out on making a booking at a city restaurant a week ago.
“Everything is full. It is better to come here, sit and chill,” the couple said.
While they won’t be popping the champagne, the loved up couple said they may settle for takeaway to send off what has been a tough year.
“Might go somewhere else in my suburb … get takeaway or something like that.”
Also taking in the chance to soak in the atmosphere was Rosemarie Starke and her daughter who enjoyed dinner together with family at the Beachcomber cafe.
“I’m in St Kilda and my daughter and her husband and two kids are here visiting me. I thought it was a food idea to have some dinner together,” Ms Starke said.
“We try to be awake till 12 make sure the whole year is gone.
Ms Starke said she normally joined family and grandchild in Beaumaris but this year she said “there’s nothing going on.”
NEW OUTBREAK GROWS TO SIX CASES
Six new cases have been uncovered in Victoria on Wednesday and Thursday, linked to the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock.
Contact tracing uncovered that three positive cases visited the restaurant on December 21, with three additional cases seeding from those individuals after that.
The restaurant was also visited by a returned traveller from NSW.
The Herald Sun understands the NSW traveller isn’t from Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Contact tracers have established 52 close contacts the first three cases in a range of locations across Melbourne, plus people in Barwon Heads and Leongatha.
More than 40 primary close contacts of Wednesday’s positive test cases, who will undergo further testing, had been contacted and ordered to self-isolate.
The cases were on Thursday morning linked to the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock, Ms Allan said.
“The three cases that were identified yesterday have a link to the Buffalo Thai restaurant, and that occurred on the December 21, 2020,” she said.
“On that night, one case and two close contacts of cases attended this restaurant, as did a returned traveller from New South Wales.
“That traveller is being tested as a matter of urgency today, and working with New South Wales Health to investigate their movements in New South Wales.
“The traveller returned to New South Wales prior to the border permit system being put in place.
“We are urging anyone who visited the Smile Buffalo Thai Restaurant to get tested as soon as possible and contact the Department health for the situation. The department is working with the restaurant to identify all the staff and patients working on that night.”
Health Minister Martin Foley apologised for up-ending New Year’s Eve plans for millions of Victorians.
“We apologise for the short notice but this virus does not respect New Year’s Eve and it does not respect state borders and other public health advice as indicated,” he said.
WA ENFORCES HARD BORDER WITH VICTORIA
Western Australia will resume its hard border with Victoria from 12.01am on January 1, increasing the state’s risk from ‘very low’ to ‘medium’.
Anyone who has been in Victoria since December 21 and not completed 14-days of quarantine in a lower risk state will not be permitted to enter Western Australia without an exemption.
Anyone who arrived in Western Australia from Victoria since December 21 will be contacted WA Police, and required to self-quarantine for 14 days from date of arrival, and be tested on the eleventh day after arrival.
The same rules apply for anyone who was in Victoria from December 21 and has since arrived in Western Australia.
Compassionate grounds may be sought by Western Australia residents who were visiting Victoria.
TESTING SITE CLOSES DUE TO OVERWHELMING DEMAND
A coronavirus testing site in Casey Fields has suspended tests due to high demand.
The wait time to get tested at Springers Leisure Centre in Keysborough currently sits at 270 minutes.
There’s a two-hour wait at MSAC in Albert Park, and a 70-minute wait at Monash Health on Clayton Road.
ROYAL BRIGHTON YACHT CLUB, NATIONAL GOLF CLUB ON ALERT
The Royal Brighton Yacht Club has closed after a positive coronavirus case dined at the venue’s restaurant on December 29.
The person sat outside between 12pm and 2pm, and did not use any of the indoor facilities at the club.
The club has closed for deep cleaning, and anyone who has been at the venue on or since December 29 is advised to stay home and seek guidance from the Health Department regarding isolation.
The club’s carpark and buildings will remain closed until a deep clean is completed, and members wishing to access their boats in the marina are advised to do so directly without entering the club.
Members with boats in the yard will not be able to access their craft until the club reopens.
On the Mornington Peninsula, the National Golf Club has been named an exposure site on December 30, between 11.40am-1.30pm.
General Manager John Gahan said the club acted “promptly and effectively” upon being notified of the exposure.
“We’ve activated our Covid-Safe plan and started to undertake a variety of measures to protect patrons,” he said.
“Regrettably, we have to act on these sorts of incidents.”
THOUSANDS TOLD TO ISOLATE
Thousands of Melburnians have been told to isolate after a busy shopping centre and popular beach were among the list of places visited by Victoria’s first local coronavirus cases in 61 days.
Wednesday’s new cases from Mitcham, Mentone and Hallam — two women in their 40s and a woman in her 70s — were being treated as locally acquired, ending the state’s 61-day consecutive run of no new community transmissions.
The woman, aged in her 40s, from Mentone is the daughter of the Hallam woman, who is aged in her 70s.
It is expected more close contacts will emerge, with thousands of shoppers and workers among those exposed to the virus at Kmart, Big W, Target, Millers, King of Gifts and Lacoste at Fountain Gate Shopping Centre in Narre Warren.
People who visited those sites between 9am and 11am on Boxing Day must get tested and isolate until they receive a result.
Mentone-Parkdale Beach, Century City Walk and Mocha Jo’s in Glen Waverley, and Oakleigh’s Katiala restaurant were also listed as high-risk locations.
Victoria’s Commander of COVID-19 Response Jeroen Weimar said the active cases were a concern.
“We have three cases that are self-isolating at home and are being supported and monitored by the Department of Health and Human Services,” Mr Weimar said.
“We have been in this position before and we are deploying our full outbreak approach around these cases.
“Extensive contact tracing is under way and as a result there are currently more than 40 primary close contacts that are being supported to isolate immediately.”
The cases bring the state’s active case count to 11, with seven of those in hotel quarantine.
One other is a teen who contracted the virus in NSW and has been in isolation at home.
‘COME HOME’: VICTORIA TOUGHENS BORDER WITH NSW
Victorians in NSW have been urged to return home as the state’s coronavirus outbreak spreads.
Ten new virus cases were revealed in NSW on Thursday, with five linked to the northern beaches cluster.
Deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng discouraged Victorians to travel across the border.
“The things we want Victorians to do: if you were planning to go to New South Wales, we want you to very strongly reconsider that,” he said.
“This is a quickly changing situation and we don’t want you to be trapped in New South Wales. If you are already New South Wales, we want you to come home.”
It comes as the state government toughened its NSW border closure, locking out anyone who has been in the Blue Mountains or Wollongong regions since December 27 unless they return to Victoria by 11.59pm Thursday.
From 11.59pm, anyone who has been in or visited the Blue Mountains or Wollongong regions in the past 14 days will be banned from entering Victoria.
Anyone who has been in the two regions will have until 11.59pm to apply for a new travel permit through Service Victoria to gain entry.
If granted, they must get tested within 24 hours of returning to Victoria, and must self-quarantine at home for 14 days from when they last left the region.
Anyone currently in Victoria who has been in Wollongong or the Blue Mountains since December 27 is urged to get tested and stay at home until a negative test result is received.
It is not known how many Victorians are currently in the regions.
But anyone arriving from Friday will be banned entry or forced into mandatory hotel quarantine.
Melbourne emergency physician and former vice-president of the Australian Medical Association Stephen Parnis said he was shocked that NSW had not worked harder to suppress its current outbreak.
“Three new cases in Melbourne, which aren’t in one place. Reportedly linked to the Sydney outbreak. It beggars belief after all we have learned and endured that NSW is still not going harder in suppressing the current outbreak,” he said on social media.
A government spokesman said border restrictions would continue to be reviewed daily and would be changed only on public health advice.
Meanwhile, South Australia will slam its borders shut to New South Wales as the eastern state’s coronavirus outbreak continues to grow.
Premier Steven Marshall announced on New Year’s Eve that a hard border will be back in place as of one minute past midnight.
MASSIVE QUEUES FOR TESTS
A 300m queue of cars are waiting outside the Parkdale pop up testing centre which was due to open at 11am.
There are huge delays on Warren Rd.
Jill Fagan and Adam Fritsch, from Parkdale, had waited one hour to get a COVID test and are just two of the hundreds queued at the pop up testing facility.
They were at Parkdale beach on December 27 during the exposure period.
“We don’t have symptoms but we are here just in case,” Ms Fagan said. “We thought we’d just get it over and done with.”
Mr Fritsch said he was hoping for the best.
“I’m quite shocked,” he said. “We were expecting outbreaks, but not having any for so long, you start getting your hopes up. Just like that we’re back. Fingers crossed.”
There was a lengthy queue for testing outside Sandringham Hospital, with the line of at least 150 people stretching right through the carpark and out and around the street.
Some people had brought books in readiness for a long wait.
HOT SPOTS CLOSED IN BITTER END TO 2020
Mocha Jo’s cafe in Glen Waverley was closed Thursday morning, following news of a coronavirus-positive exposure on December 28.
The usually bustling cafe was due to open at 6.30am but is closed to the public today, while the owners proactively organise a deep clean and staff undergo voluntary COVID testing.
A delivery of bread was sitting outside the cafe, which has prominently placed COVID-safe messaging on its front door.
Meanwhile in Glen Waverley, the Century City Walk thoroughfare remained open. The Herald Sun witnessed routine cleaning taking place about 7.30am.
The centre houses the Pancake Parlour, Strike Bowling, Secret Kitchen and Village Cinemas.
It remains unclear if the coronavirus-infected woman entered any of the stores, or merely passed through the thoroughfare.
Staff at the neighbouring Piatella bar, next to Century City walk, said they were taking extra precautions with cleaning and sanitising chairs and tables.
Waitress Sharina Riva said she found out on Thursday morning about the exposure sites.
“I hope the cases can be contained, hopefully we don’t go into a third lockdown,” she said.
“We found out this morning.”
Her colleague Tharushi Colamba said locals had been vigilant this morning.
“I panicked when I heard the news,” she said.
“Everyone has come in wearing masks.”
Westfield cleaning employees at Fountain Gate shopping centre revealed they knew nothing of the DHHS memo issued on Wednesday night.
“That is the first I am hearing of it,” one cleaning employee told the Herald Sun. “We haven’t been told anything. That’s concerning.”
The 24-hour Kmart store was open to shoppers on Thursday, with a large poster reminding customers to social distance prominently outside the store.
The Fountain Gate Big W store is also open for customers.
There was nothing unusual at the Holy Family Parish in Doveton on Thursday morning.
A few people could be seen on the property, and a post on the church’s website said all services had been cancelled.
“Due to a suspected COVID infection case in the Holy Family Doveton – Large Hall on 26 December, all services have been temporarily cancelled with immediate effect,” the post said.
“Subsequent to a deep clean and other COVID managements put in place, advise will be provided re resuming services.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
PRE-FLIGHT COVID REGIMEN QUESTIONED
All airlines flying into Australia have been asked to explain to detail what their pre-flight COVID-19 testing regimen is, as authorities work to slow the spread of a mutated strain of the virus.
Chief medical officer Paul Kelly made the request of airlines on Wednesday, following a request from federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Prof Kelly said the top medical body – the AHPPC – was meeting daily to discuss the evolving situation, moving to assure Australians the mutated strain seemed to be more infectious but not more deadly.
“This variant is not more severe, doesn’t cause more severe illness,” Prof Kelly said.
“There is no increase in hospitalisation or increase in 28-day mortality.”
He said the government would consider further measures like increased testing of returned travellers in quarantine like has already been done in New Zealand.
“Our quarantine system is very safe,” Prof Kelly said.
Qantas already requires passengers to return a negative test before people travel on their international flights.
The Victorian Government is in favour of pre-flight testing and has been urging federal authorities to consider it.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said everything possible needed to be done to reduce risks until a vaccine was available.
“Getting tested and only flying when you are well helps slow the spread of coronavirus and limits the possibility of cases entering our state,” he said.
“A national approach would be most effective in dealing with this issue.”
So far, at least six people have tested positive to the mutated COVID-19 strains in Australia.
HOW TO CELEBRATE NYE SAFELY
New Year’s Eve revellers are on notice that police will move swiftly to break up crowds and clamp down on unruly behaviour.
With no fireworks to see in 2021, Victorians have been urged to stay well away from Melbourne’s CBD unless they have booked to dine at hospitality venues.
Police have flagged swift action to break up any crowds in excess of 100 people, which are banned under the chief health officer’s directions.
More than 1500 police will be out in force across the state, with specialist squads including the air wing, dog squad and public order response team on constant standby.
Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said on Wednesday that officers wouldn’t hesitate to act if necessary.
“We’ll be having a significant, visible and active presence, not only here in the city but also on the beaches, down around the bayside area and pushing down the Great Ocean Road,” he said.
“We will take the opportunity, where it’s appropriate, to take action, where there are flagrant breaches of the directions. And we will fine people.
“Anyone thinking of coming into a city, town or celebration anywhere in the state to cause trouble — our advice is don’t. You will be arrested and you will be held to account.”
Police will have extra powers to search people suspected of carrying weapons, and they have also vowed to crack down on illegal fireworks displays.
“There’ll be a strong and dedicated police presence across the state to ensure celebrations are kept safe and people who make it unsafe … are held to account,” Mr Cornelius said.
Despite repeated requests for people to stay away from the CBD unless they have booked into venues, Mr Cornelius said police would be powerless to move people on or issue fines.
“The directions don’t prevent people moving about our city,” he said. “The bottom line here is if you come into the city and you’re not here for a booked event, well, what else is there?” Mr Cornelius said.
He urged families to celebrate in small numbers in their local communities instead.
Williamstown local Justin Chrimes said he would be staying close to home with his wife Amy and children Lachie, 9, Oli, 7, and Ela, 5.
The family will attend a Goodbye 2020 event at Seaworks in Williamstown with a casual picnic.
“It’s nice to have a local option for the kids,” Mr Chrimes said. “We’ll go with the family but see people we know.”
Police and Emergency Service Minister Lisa Neville also urged Victorians to keep away from the CBD.
“We cannot risk the work we have done by breaking the rules,” Ms Neville said.
Melbourne is bracing for up to a month’s worth of rain to fall in one day after heavy downpours brought flooding and damaged buildings across the city.
A severe weather warning for heavy rainfall and isolated thunderstorms remains in place for southern Victoria with the heaviest falls expected to hit Melbourne from late Tuesday morning until the evening.
The weather bureau has warned heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding in parts of western and central Victoria with up to 70mm possible in some areas.
State Emergency Service volunteers have already responded to 91 requests for help across the state in the past 24 hours, including 51 in the central region, which includes Melbourne.
Frankston and Greater Dandenong were the hardest hit areas with 15 call-outs.
An SES spokeswoman said 29 calls for help were for fallen trees, 21 for building damage and 20 for flooding.
The highest rainfall totals between 9am on Monday and 4.45am on Tuesday were at Cape Nelson in southwest Victoria, which recorded 42.8mm, while Portland saw 39.6mm, Port Fairy 35.4mm and Rowville and Lang Lang each received 23.4mm.
In the city 13.2mm has fallen since 9am on Monday, while Frankston has recorded 30.2mm and Moorabbin Airport 25mm.
The weather bureau said the rain could ease across the city for periods during Tuesday morning but would increase again during the middle of the day.
Widespread falls of between 20mm to 40mm is expected across Melbourne on Tuesday, with up to 70mm possible in areas hit by isolated thunderstorms.
Locations likely to be affected by heavy falls include Warrnambool, Maryborough, Ballarat, Geelong, Melbourne and Bacchus Marsh.
Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Claire Yeo said some areas could receive more than the December monthly average rainfall in one day if hit by thunderstorms.
“The rainfall across Victoria is actually being sourced from the northwest of the country where there’s an active monsoon across the Kimberly district of Western Australia,” she said.
“This moisture is actually providing a conveyor belt of moisture that in combination with an upper trough is generating the heavy rainfall that we’re seeing develop across the southwest and central parts of our state.”
The SES has urged people to avoid travel if possible and to stay away from dangerous hazards, such as floodwater, mud, debris, damaged roads and fallen trees.
It also recommended people to stay indoors when the rain hit and away from trees, drains, gutters, creeks and waterways.