THE State Government confirmed this morning that none of the new cases of COVID-19 found in the past few days are secondary infections coming out of the single positive case notified in Leongatha on Thursday, December 31, 2020.

That’s despite hundreds of people being tested at expanded testing sites in Leongatha, Wonthaggi, Cowes and Foster.

Testing will continue tomorrow after reduced numbers due to wet conditions with as much as 60mm falling locally in the past 24 hours.

All three of the latest cases “locally acquired” cases, that is not acquired interstate or overseas, have been identified as primary close contacts of the existing cases in the Mentone and Mitcham clusters.

It brought the number of active cases in Victoria to 32 including 21 locally acquired cases and 11 in hotel quarantine, with no additional ‘hotel’ cases in the last 24 hours.

The closure of the border has seen more than 60,000 Victorians return across the border and require a COVID-19 test.

“We have boosted our testing capacity by 40 per cent by extending hours, recalling staff, bringing on board agency staff, opening pop up sites, working with pathology services to increase and collaborating with sporting and education partners to set up additional drive through services. We will continue to operate extended hours until there is no longer a need,” said Department of Health and Human Services.

“Today, there are 190 testing centres in operation. We are also utilising the Rapid Response Testing model to run pop up sites, boosting the testing capacity at the Showgrounds by 25 per cent or 700 tests per day.

“There were 22,477 samples processed yesterday. 6223 results were returned throughout the morning and these tests will be reported as part of the daily numbers on 4 January. This contributes to a total of 3,929,815 COVID-19 tests that have been performed since 1 January 2020.

“Importantly, 88 per cent of people are receiving their test results within 24 hours and 99.9 per cent receive their results within 48 hours.

“We continue to appreciate the incredible effort shown by all Victorians, but especially by testing centre and laboratory staff, many of whom are putting the needs of the greater Victorian family before the needs of their own by stepping up and continuing to work on the frontline.”

Updated information on locations and hours of operation for testing sites can be located at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/where-get-tested-covid-19

Across the Mentone and Mitcham cluster and returning travelers from NSW, there are 2765 close contacts in total with 2406 Victorians being managed as primary close contacts and 359 Victorians being managed as secondary close contacts.

State of Emergency

The State of Emergency in Victoria will be extended to January 29, 2021 as there remains a serious risk to public health. The Chief Health Officer made the recommendation to the Minister for Health, who has consulted with the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the Commissioner for Emergency Services, who have all approved the extension based on the advice from the Chief Health Officer.

DHHS has received more than 1500 applications on January 2 requesting an exemption to enter Victoria from NSW. These applications are being triaged, with 654 requiring additional documentation. Applications are being processed in a 24-48-hour period.

Applications are carefully assessed to determine the public health risk and 117 exemptions have been granted to enter Victoria for reasons such as end of life circumstances or to attend a funeral.

A negative COVID-19 test is required as part of the exemption application.

Additional staff and streamlining of the application process continues with amendments being made to the Chief Health Officer Directions permitting additional DHHS authorised staff to assess and grant permits.

Exposure sites

There are now exposure sites in Albert Park, Bairnsdale, Black Rock, Box Hill South, Brighton, Camberwell, Cape Schank, Caufield, Cheltenham, Doveton, Forrest Hill, Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, Hallam, Glen Waverley, Lakes Entrance, Leongatha, Mentone, Mordialloc, Melbourne CBD, Moorabbin, Mount Waverley, Oakleigh, Southbank, and Wonthaggi. The list of exposure sites is expected to increase over coming days as contact tracing continues

As contact tracing interviews continue, details of exposure sites may change. A list of each exposure sites including dates and times can be found at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/case-locations-and-outbreaks#case-alerts–public-exposure-sites

Victoria’s border with NSW is now closed. Anyone who tries to enter Victoria, without an exemption to enter, will be turned away and will need to find alternative accommodation in NSW.

Any Victorians currently self-isolating for 14 days can access emergency assistance including help to access medial/pharmaceutical services, food relief and financial support. Information on supports available can be found at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/quarantine-isolation-extra-help-and-support-coronavirus-covid-19

Victorians are strongly advised not to travel to anywhere in NSW as theywill not be able to re-enter Victoria without an exemption. Anyone in breach of the Chief Health Officer or Emergency Orders could face significant fines.

The border restrictions are reviewed every day based on public health advice and the government working closely with NSW Health to monitor the situation closely.

For Victorians living along the Murray River, the existing ‘border bubble’ arrangement allowing residents to travel across the border, between permitted local government areas will continue.

Information regarding COVID-19 is available at the Department of Health and Human Services website or by calling 1800 675 398.