News Fears virus is leaking into regional Victoria
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Fears virus is leaking into regional Victoria

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There were another 73 local COVID cases in Victoria on Monday, down from 92 reported on Sunday.
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Victorian authorities are worried COVID is spreading into the regions, as they race to trace the source of four more mystery cases reported on Friday.

Traces of the virus have turned up in “unexpected” areas in Melbourne and country Victoria, sparking fears the outbreak is spreading.

The latest sites of concern include Lakes Entrance in far-eastern Victoria and Camberwell in Melbourne’s east. It has also been detected in catchments in the city’s western suburbs, including Tarneit, Williams Landing and Truganina.

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton said the discoveries were concerning.

“Bear in mind there could well be a case in those catchments,” he said on Friday.

“It could be you. You need to get tested if you have any symptoms at all.”

Victoria confirmed 15 more coronavirus infections on Friday. Eight were in quarantine throughout their infectious period and 11 are linked to known outbreaks.

But it is the four mystery cases that are of most concern to health authorities. It’s the third consecutive day Victoria has had cases that it has not been able to link to existing clusters.

“These are individuals who don’t know that they were infectious at the time,” Professor Sutton said.

“They’ve developed symptoms, gotten tested and done the right thing and isolating. Their close contacts are being followed up.

“They’ve been out in the community within the restrictions imposed in the lockdown but still shopping for food, going out for essential reasons. Those exposure sites are quite numerous, because that individual wasn’t already identified as a primary close contact.

“That’s the challenge of mystery cases. That’s why we need to get on top of them as much as possible.”

There are now more than 400 exposure sites across Melbourne and its urban fringe, including inner-city tram routes, an Australian Taxation Office building in Moonee Ponds and a VicRoads site in Hoppers Crossing.

Seven shops in the South Melbourne Market were listed as tier-one sites overnight after an infected person attended on Saturday from 1.30pm. The market will reopen on Friday morning following a deep clean.

  • See all the latest Victorian exposure sites here

Of Friday’s other cases, four were linked to Al-Taqwa College, two to the City of Hobsons bay outbreak and are two contacts from two other households.

One case is a household contact of a worker linked to Caroline Springs Square shopping centre, and another is a household contact of an existing case in the City of Melbourne outbreak.

Two cases are related to Glenroy West Primary School.

There’s also a household contact of one of Thursday’s Glenroy cases, who is a student at another primary school.

Last Sunday, Victoria made the AstraZeneca shot available to everyone between 18-39 years old at nine state-run vaccination hubs.

Premier Daniel Andrews said 10,000 people from that age group had come forward for first doses in just one week, prompting the state government to expand the move to all 50 state hubs.

“We aim over the next few weeks to get a million jabs into a million arms, Pfizer as well as AstraZeneca,” Mr Andrews said.

“There are a million reasons to get the vaccine over the next five weeks. We want to break that target, do better than that one million jabs. There’s every chance we can.”

There were 27,427 doses administered at Victorian state clinics on Thursday, a new record.

“That is a fantastic outcome. We need to do just a little more than that and we will be able to get a million jabs done, a million people vaccinated,” he said.

Elsewhere, a school for children with autism in Melbourne’s west was closed on Friday after a COVID-19 case was linked to the school’s bus service.

All Western Autistic School contacts that travelled on the bus have been identified and told to get tested and undergo 14 days of quarantine.

In a letter to parents, the Laverton school said it would remain closed until everyone tested had returned negative results and it could be sure “there is no transmission within the school community”.

-with AAP