5 New Cases, 5 Suburbs on COVID Alert in Victoria

By AAP
October 21, 2020 Updated: October 22, 2020

Victoria has recorded five new virus cases and no deaths as authorities work to contain an outbreak in Melbourne’s north.

Residents of five suburbs in Melbourne’s north, including 120 people living in a social housing block, have been urged to get tested if they experience symptoms of COVID-19 after a school student tested positive.

The pupil attended East Preston Islamic College, which has been closed until further notice for deep cleaning, as contact tracing gets underway.

The suburbs subject to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services alert include Dallas, Roxburgh Park, Broadmeadows, Preston and West Heidelberg.

“The college has taken positive steps to manage this situation and is working closely with us,” the state’s Commander of Testing Jeroen Weimar said in a statement late Wednesday night.

“We need everyone working together to tackle this virus.”

School staff and students, and their households, will now quarantine for 14 days.

Austin Health and Banyule Community Health will monitor those isolating either at home or in accommodation.

“Extensive contact tracing is underway and we expect that as part of this work, additional cases will be detected,” Weimar said.

The 120 residents of a housing block in Broadmeadows have been told to isolate 48 hours and monitor for symptoms of the infection after authorities established links to the school.

“This time frame allows for the department to ensure the community is aware of the situation and for residents to get tested and get their results back before determining what the next steps are,” Weimar said.

Asymptomatic testing will be offered at a testing station set up on-site.

A close contact linked to the East Preston school has also been identified at Dallas Brooks Primary School, which has also been closed for deep cleaning as a precautionary measure.

A community door-knocking program will start on Thursday to alert residents in the suburbs about the potential exposure to coronavirus and provide information about testing sites.

It comes after a text message was sent out on Wednesday afternoon alerting people who lived in or were visiting the suburbs to get tested.

Elsewhere, a schoolies celebration at Rye on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has officially been called off by the local council.

The decision follows the cancellation of schoolies festivities on the Gold Coast and Byron Bay.

Although Rye is accessible under the 25km radius coronavirus restrictions rule, Mornington Peninsula Shire chief executive John Baker urged school graduates to stay away.

“It’s just not worth the risk of travelling down here,” he said on Wednesday.

“Look at options in your local area, stay safe and celebrate at home.”

On Wednesday, Victoria reported no deaths and only three new cases.

Victoria is poised to unveil a further easing of coronavirus restrictions on Sunday, after six straight days with new cases below five.

The state’s death toll remains at 817 and the national figure is 905, with only one death in the past week.

By Benita Kolovos