News State NSW News Testing plea as Victoria’s virus cases spike to 80

Testing plea as Victoria’s virus cases spike to 80

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Mass testing is more important than ever as Victoria's COVID cases remain stubbornly high. Photo: Getty
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Victorians have again been urged to step up for virus testing after the state posted another 80 local coronavirus cases.

Thursday’s tally included 41 people who were not isolating while infectious.

It is the highest daily number yet in the state’s Delta outbreak and takes the total number of active cases in Victoria to 618.

Sixty-seven of the latest cases are linked to known sources.

Thursday’s update came after 45 cases on Wednesday.

“We want to see these numbers come down. We had a few days where that was the trend,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“These rules will work, these numbers will come down and continue to come down if people follow these rules.”

There are still concerns about people waiting more than a week to get tested – despite having virus symptoms.

“If you have symptoms today, get tested today. Don’t, for heaven’s
sake, wait eight days and literally infect everybody you go anywhere near in that eight-day period,” Mr Andrews said.

“Please, do not be visiting friends and family because the visitor no one knows about is the coronavirus. You are taking it with you to the people you love.”

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said testing was critical to containing the burgeoning Victorian outbreak.

“We have thrown everything at this current outbreak, we locked down immediately, we had strict and broad restrictions in place, they have done a terrific job but the fight is still on, we still have significant community transmission occurring,” he said.

“This virus has moved silently and with stealth across Melbourne and into regional Victoria.

“You are at risk if you’re in Victoria, if you’re in Australia. We simply can’t assume that we’re not at risk.”

The widening outbreak has hit Victoria’s health system and is causing distress in the regional town of Shepparton. On Thursday, 20 cases were associated with the rapidly growing outbreak in the central Victorian town and a linked cluster at Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“It’s been a very fast opening of that particular outbreak and we expect to find more cases over the coming days,” testing commander Jeroen Weimar said of Shepparton.

At least a third of Shepparton residents are in isolation.

Among those told to quarantine are supermarket staff, prompting many shops to close for cleaning, limiting access to essential supplies.

Greater Shepparton mayor Kim O’Keeffe said the central Victorian town needed immediate support.

“We have so many shops in our hot spots that are closing. We have supermarkets that don’t have enough staff, with over 20,000 in isolation, many being workers and students, so we are in need of extra support,” she told the ABC on Thursday.

“Our local health hospital here, they are down 450-plus numbers of staff. We need support in the health system.”

About 50 Australian Defence Force troops are expected to arrive in Shepparton on Thursday.

Victoria’s exposure sites list has ballooned past 800, including the emergency department of Monash Medical Centre. It is listed as a tier one exposure site.

Victoria is recruiting 350 overseas doctors and nurses to ease pressure on a hospital system as it faces hundreds of workers being furloughed due to coronavirus exposure.

Meanwhile, more than 95,000 Victorians booked vaccine appointments at state-run hubs to 4pm on Wednesday, despite the online system being overwhelmed as Pfizer eligibility expanded to those aged 16 to 39.

There are 36 COVID patients in Victorian hospital. Of those, 11 are in intensive care, including eight on ventilators.

Victoria’s lockdown is due to last until at least September 2.

-with AAP