New coronavirus surge sees emergency alerts sent to hotspot residents

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Emergency alerts are being sent to residents in coronavirus hotspots in Victoria as the state grapples to clamp down on community transmission.

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen announced on Saturday the state had recorded 41 new cases of the virus - the highest daily increase since April 3 when there were 49.

“We will be sending and have already started sending an emergency alert to residents of the suburbs of Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows,” Dr van Diemen told reporters.

“As part of the blitz, this alert has been issued to let communities in those hotspots know that there are testing vans, door knockers and expanded community engagement teams in their area.”

Healthcare workers at a pop-up testing facility in Broadmeadows on Friday. Source: AAP

Of the news cases eight have been linked to known outbreaks, one was detected in hotel quarantine, 13 were detected through routine testing and 19 cases are still under investigation.

There have been 260 cases of the virus contracted through community transmission, with 204 cases currently active in the state, including five in hospital and one in intensive care.

Ten suburbs of biggest concern were revealed by Premier Daniel Andrews this week, including Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Reservoir, Pakenham and Fawkner.

Dr van Diemen confirmed on Saturday legal advice was being sought on whether it could make returned travellers in hotel quarantine get tested, a day after it was revealed 30 per cent in Victoria were refusing to do so.

“In terms of whether it is mandatory or not, every state and territory is really working under, you know, broadly similar but different regulatory and legal frameworks and we are seeking legal advice on that,” she said.

“Whether it becomes mandatory or not, there's a really large number of questions. And we are continually working on our processes to really encourage people to uptake the testing that is offered to them in Victorian hotels.”

Signage for a self swab COVID-19 test in Broadmeadows on Friday. Source: AAP

Victoria's hotel quarantine program tests travellers on day three and day 11, she said.

In NSW, returned international travellers who refuse to have the test on day 10 must stay an extra 10 days in quarantine.

NSW has a two per cent test refusal rate, authorities said on Saturday.

Is Victoria in the midst of a ‘second wave’?

Dr van Diemen said current numbers were likely to be represented in a “bump or a second peak” in the state’s overall epidemiological curve, but she was wary to label it a “second wave”.

“Whether we have second, third, fifth, or 10th waves nobody really knows. This is not something any of us have experienced before,” she said.

“We will continue on a suppression strategy and, as our premier and multiple others have said, we know that cases and outbreaks will continue to occur, and we are really just doing our best to keep absolutely on top of them.”

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