A Melbourne coronavirus outbreak has spread further in regional Victoria, putting health authorities on high alert amid concern more cases of COVID-19 will emerge.
The Department of Health and Human Services has identified three new positive cases in the northern Victorian town of Shepparton..
High-risk locations include Bunnings and McDonald’s on the Midland Highway in the north of the regional city, which is 160 kilometres north of Melbourne on the Hume Highway.
Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp confirmed the cases were linked to Melbourne’s Chadstone shopping centre outbreak, which has so far infected 40 people.
GV Health will continue contact tracing on Wednesday, with “further information to be provided as soon as it is available”, Mr Sharp said.
DHHS has so far named eight Shepparton sites as “high-risk” after they were linked to the people who tested positive for COVID-19. The department also identified times and dates other customers could have been at risk.
The times and locations are:
- Central Tyre Service, Welsford Street, September 30-October 13;
- Bunnings Warehouse, Midland Highway, on October 2;
- McDonald’s Shepparton North, Midland Highway, October 3;
- Mooroopna Golf Club Members Bar, October 4, and pro shop and members’ bar, October 11;
- Shepparton Market Place Medical Centre, Midland Highway, October 8;
- Lemon Tree Cafe, Fryers Street (no dates or times given);
- Thai Orchid Restaurant, Nixon Street, October 7, 7-8.30pm;
- Bombshell Hairdressing, Fryers Street, October 7, 9.30-10.30am.
DHHS deputy secretary Jeroen Weimar said he expected “further cases will be discovered” in the town.
Mr Weimar urged anyone in Shepparton who felt unwell to get tested for the virus immediately.
“To everyone locally … if you feel unwell at all, please get tested as soon as possible and stay at home until you get your results,” he said.
“We’re asking everyone in the local community – and any Victorian who has loved ones in Shepparton – to share this message.”
From 9am on Wednesday, testing will be available for all Shepparton residents GV Health’s Acute Respiratory Clinic in Graham Street.
Further testing sites will be set up on Wednesday, including a pop-up centre at the local showgrounds from 12.30pm.
Find your nearest testing location: https://t.co/ogHDjd53AD
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) October 13, 2020
News of the three confirmed infections gutted local MP Suzanna Sheed, who told Parliament late on Tuesday that “to find out that just tonight there are … active cases, possibly with many contacts for our community, is extremely upsetting”.
Ms Sheed said there was a spike in COVID-19 cases in Shepparton in July but “we got on top of it, suppressed it and we’ve been clear for weeks”.
Victoria had 12 new cases on Tuesday, its sixth straight day of double-digit infections as it battles to quell the stubborn tail of its devastating second wave of coronavirus.
NSW had 13 new infections, with the majority of them locally acquired.
Victorians, especially those in Melbourne, are anxiously awaiting an announcement from Premier Daniel Andrews about what virus restrictions are likely to be wound back.
He has promised that for Sunday (October 18), although he has already conceded Melbourne will not meet its targets to take all the steps that had been planned. It is uncertain what effect this latest outbreak will have on the government’s plans.