– Five new cases in Bass Coast

THEY told us it was going to spread like this, seeking out the unvaccinated in regional areas.

And in recent weeks we’ve seen a tick up in the number of cases in Bass Coast and South Gippsland.

The Gippsland Region Public Health Unit (GRPHU) has advised on Friday, November 19 of eight new cases of COVID-19 in South Gippsland (total 24), a bigger daily increase in numbers than Latrobe City with 7 but not Baw Baw with 10 new cases reported on Friday.

Bass Coast recorded five new cases (total 27).

These are the numbers that are being “managed by GRPHU”, the Health Department listed Bass Coast 34 and South Gippsland as having 27 active cases.

It’s not surprising numbers would be increasing but it’s not an alarming increase.

Last week, the Education Department confirmed that one South Gippsland primary school and two Bass Coast primary schools had positive cases.

Some classes stayed home for cleaning and family testing, and one school was closed for two days out of an abundance of caution, but we’re told, the situation has been contained and is under control.

It prompted a boost in the number of people seeking testing at Wonthaggi, Leongatha and to a lesser extent Cowes.

Late this week, the Sentinel-Times was notified that two childcare centres, one in Bass Coast and the other in South Gippsland, had reports of a positive case at their centres but all testing, advice and precautions have been taken.

Gippsland Southern Health Service CEO Mark Johnston said the movement of the virus was taking its expected course.

“Until we get a vaccination for primary school-age children, we’re likely to see more of that. We’ve been briefed about it and we’re ready for it,” Mr Johnston said.

GSHS, which operates the Leongatha and Korumburra hospitals, provides both testing and vaccination services at its Leongatha Campus; drive-through testing Monday and Thursday from 9.30am-20.30am and vaccination at the IPCC Building on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9am to 3.30pm.

“We have had an increase in testing numbers in the past week but to date, we’re handling those numbers with the present times.”

Mr Johnston said health services in the region had a daily hook-up to discuss adjusting logistics to meet any changes in demand.

The total number of active cases in Gippsland, being managed by the GRPHU, is 423 (Bass Coast 27, Baw Baw 99, East Gippsland 60, Latrobe 196, South Gippsland 24, Wellington 17.

Overall, the regional number is coming down but there has been a small spike in South Gippsland numbers in recent days.

There is one person in hospital in ICU at Latrobe Regional Hospital.

Latrobe has recorded seven new cases from yesterday, Baw Baw 10, four for East Gippsland, five for Bass Coast and eight in South Gippsland, while Wellington recorded no new cases from yesterday, according to GRPHU.

“As Victoria approaches 90 per cent vaccinated, we have all played a key role in helping us get to this point. The 90 per cent vaccination rate allows us to take a risk-based approach to how we manage cases and contacts, continuing to focus on high-risk outbreaks and removing stringent self-quarantine requirements for people who are at lower risk of transmission, and alleviating the burden that isolating puts on families, mental health and business.”

Here is an outline of the new guidelines that apply from Friday, November 19;

* Isolation – The majority of people who come into contact with a confirmed positive case outside their home won’t have to self-quarantine. Instead, those contacts will have to get a PCR test and isolate until they get a negative result. That means if you are exposed to a case in an office, restaurant or bar you won’t automatically have to quarantine, although the Health Department can still impose quarantine periods on a case-by-case basis if it is considered necessary.

People who test positive to COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days instead of 14 and are asked to contact the people they have seen in the lead-up to their diagnosis and encourage them to get tested, but the Health Department will no longer trace and manage those contacts.

Cases are required to notify their workplace, school or childcare about their positive results, and workplaces will be responsible for contacting other employees, but not customers, who may have been exposed. Fully vaccinated household contacts will have to isolate for seven days instead of 14.

* Exposure sites – will no longer be published, but notifications from the Service Victoria app will alert to higher risk venues if a positive case has attended.

* Masks – are no longer required in workplaces such as offices, but are still required for primary school staff and visitors and students in years 3-6, for hospitality workers, and workers and customers at indoor retail. Masks will also need to be worn in healthcare, aged care and justice facilities, and in ride-share vehicles, taxis or on public transport. Offices – Workplaces are open and masks no longer need to be worn, but you must be fully vaccinated if you are a worker or volunteer who is required to be vaccinated to work outside the home, for example, authorised workers who were the subject of mandated vaccinations.

As part of the changes to exposure and isolation rules, a positive case in an office setting won’t automatically require self-quarantine, contacts just need to isolate until they receive a negative test result.

* Private gatherings – There is no limit on the number of guests you can have to your home or see in a public place, although the recommendation is that everyone is fully vaccinated. Density limits and mask restrictions will remain for weddings, funerals and places of worship if vaccine status is not being checked. The restrictions will be one person per 4sqm to a maximum of 50 people.

* Visiting hospitals and aged care – There are limits on attending high-risk settings, even for those who are fully vaccinated. People in care facilities can have five visitors a day, including dependants. Visitors to hospitals are still limited.

* Travel – There are no limits on travel or accommodation in Victoria, and people are free to leave the state for any reason, however, permits will be needed for anyone returning to the state.

* Venues restricted to fully vaccinated people – YOU CAN ONLY ATTEND THE FOLLOWING VENUES IF YOU ARE FULLY VACCINATED: • Food and drink venues, such as pubs, bars and restaurants, for table service or eating in (unvaccinated people can collect take away food) • Entertainment venues, such as cinemas or zoos • Events, such as festivals or fun runs • Gambling venues and adult entertainment, such as the casino and pokies venues • Non-essential retail stores, such as bookshops, clothing, toy or jewellery retailers • Personal and beauty services, such as hairdressers or waxing salons • Community or creative arts venues, such as libraries or theatres • Real estate services, such as inspections and auctions. There are no capacity or density limits at venues where everyone is vaccinated.

Bass Coast

There are currently 27 active COVID-19 cases in Bass Coast being managed by the GRPHU. Testing opportunities in Bass Coast include; * Cowes – Bass Coast Health, drive through. 9am – 2pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Prefill your details using the Testing Registration form https://testtracker.covid19.dhhs.vic.gov.au/citizen-prefill * Wonthaggi – Bass Coast Health, drive through. 9am – 4pm Monday – Sunday. Pre-fill your details using the Testing Registration form https://testtracker.covid19.dhhs.vic.gov.au/citizen-prefill * Wonthaggi Respiratory Clinic, 1pm – 3.30pm weekdays by appointment at https://bit.ly/3Fbd8eH

South Gippsland

There are currently 24 active COVID-19 cases in South Gippsland being managed by the GRPHU. Testing opportunities in South Gippsland include; Update * Leongatha – Gippsland Southern Heath Service, drive through. 9am – 3pm Mondays and Thursdays by Appointment, for bookings call 5654 2777 * Foster Respiratory Clinic, 9am – 12.30pm weekdays. For bookings go to https://bit.ly/3Fbd8eH