Virus Outbreak Sparks Alert in Regional Victoria

October 13, 2020 Updated: October 14, 2020

Three people have been infected with COVID-19 in the northern Victorian town of Shepparton, prompting authorities to ask everyone in the area to be tested.

The cases are linked to the Chadstone outbreak.

The new cases were announced late on Oct. 13 by the state’s Commander of Testing Jeroen Weimar and could signal the beginnings of a new cluster in the region.

“We have three active cases that are self-isolating at home and are being monitored by Goulburn Valley Health,” he said in a statement.

Contact tracing is underway.

“We expect as part of that effort, further cases will be discovered,” Weimar warned.

From Wednesday, testing sites will open at GV Health’s Acute Respiratory Clinic in Shepparton and at the showgrounds, with more expected to be set up as the day progresses.

Health authorities are advising all Shepparton residents get tested and stay at home until they get their results.

In a Facebook statement, Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp confirmed the three Shepparton cases are linked to the Chadstone outbreak.

Meanwhile, the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton has defended Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions against comparisons with NSW, where measures are more lenient.

Victoria recorded 12 new cases on Oct. 13 morning—the state’s sixth straight day of double-digit infections.

NSW had 13 new infections, the majority locally acquired.

Asking why Victorians were subject to a strict lockdown unlike their northern neighbours, Sutton said the circumstances were not the same.

“The differences are really profound,” he said.

“Through this second wave, the 20,000 cases that occurred across Victoria settled into the hardest cohorts and populations across the state.

“The number of close contacts per household and the number of close contacts they have are hugely different.”

An opposition no-confidence motion against Premier Daniel Andrews handling of the pandemic failed in parliament on Oct. 13 evening.

As Melbourne’s 14-day rolling new case average rose to 10 on Oct. 13, Andrews reiterated Victoria’s roadmap out of lockdown will likely be revised as he unveils some rule relaxations on Oct. 18.

Of the 12 new cases reported on Oct. 13, seven are being investigated for links to the Box Hill Hospital outbreak, including four from the same household.

One is linked to the Chadstone outbreak through a household contact and another is linked to the Estia Keilor aged care facility.

A Geelong case is being reviewed and might turn out to be a false positive.

The state’s death toll from the virus is 811 and the national figure 899.

Elsewhere, Nazareth College in Melbourne’s southeast has been cleared to reopen on Oct. 14 after a year 12 student tested positive.