WITH NO new cases in regional Victoria, on Thursday, September 2, apart from the 13 fully-contained, ‘Day 13’ cases in Shepparton, Victoria’s country areas are well placed to enjoy some easing of restrictions next week.
The prospect has tourism and hospitality operators hopeful but not but they’re not counting their chickens yet.
Whether it will be an end to the lockdown in country areas, after 176 new cases on Thursday, mostly in metro areas, 1029 overall, or some sort of easing of restrictions will likely not be revealed until after the weekend.
But Acting Chief Health Officer, Ben Cowie, was full of praise for regional areas, especially the way the Shepparton community has responded.
“So, thankfully, we’re not seeing an ongoing high rate of community transmission in regional Victoria, which is an incredible achievement.
“There’s been no identified onward transmission that we’re aware of from the exposures in Echuca and Traralgon, and the 13 cases in Greater Shepparton, that the Minister highlighted previously, are the results of Day 13 testing.
“And again, my thanks and the whole public health team, to those who are doing their isolation, doing their Day 13 testing and protecting the community by doing so.
“So the Shepparton community continue to do the hard yards of isolating and the arrival of Day 13 testing is great news for many of them. Thousands of tests will be conducted in the coming days, and additional resources have been brought in from the metro rapid response, and the Bendigo rapid response groups to support this really huge undertaking.
“The local public health unit has been in touch with local school communities to plan testing times, and to try and spread the testing load throughout the course of the day.
“So, there are 1000s of tests to be done. And if someone doesn’t get their Day 13 test done on day 13 it can be done on day 14.
“It doesn’t trigger an extension to the isolation period, or the quarantine period. If it’s done on day 14 and it’s negative, then that clearance will occur in a timely fashion.
“So, we will be in touch with everybody involved, and help them through that process.”
The Shepparton outbreak is being talked about in terms of being the model response for what could happen in other regional areas, indicating the state and the community has the capacity to respond.
There were 3000 people tested in one day in the Shepparton and Maroopna area on Thursday by 120 testing staff.
Active cases in regional Victoria include 127 in Shepparton (+13), 11 in Greater Geelong (+1), 1 in Latrobe (+0), 1 in Mansfield (+0), 1 in Campaspe (+0).
From 11.59pm tonight (Thursday 2 September), playgrounds will re-open with strict rules to keep everyone safe. Playgrounds will be for children under 12 with only one parent or carer, and adults should not remove their masks to eat or drink. Playgrounds will also have QR codes for checking in. In-home care, such as babysitters, will also be expanded to school aged children but only if both parents are authorised workers.