Coronavirus Victoria: New suburbs on alert as milestone reached

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Victoria has now gone more than three weeks without a single new locally acquired case of coronavirus.

The state’s health department said on Saturday there were only one active case of Covid-19 in Victoria.

It’s also been 22 days in a row since Victoria reported any new cases.

Decorations of living trees and flowers are placed on streets, entrances of buildings and squares to support businesses and to attract people back to the city in Melbourne, Australia.
Victoria has gone 21 days without a single new case of Covid-19. Source: Getty Images

On Friday night, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services put out a warning to residents and visitors in Melbourne’s southwest suburb of Altona and surrounding areas between Monday, November 16 and Wednesday, November 18 to get tested “if they have any symptoms, no matter how mild”.

The alert comes after coronavirus fragments were detected in a wastewater sample collected from the Altona sewage catchment on Wednesday.

Suburbs in the wastewater catchment include Altona, Altona Meadows, Laverton, Point Cook and Sanctuary Lakes.

South Australia border closure causes frustration

It comes as Victorian communities reliant on South Australia for shopping and business lament separate detections of Covid-19 in sewerage, which prompted a border closure.

The state's "hard border" with South Australia came into effect on Thursday night in response to an outbreak of Covid-19 in Adelaide, where a cluster now numbers 25 cases.

The closure will remain in place until Sunday when a permit system is implemented, however border communities have no idea how it will operate.

People walking along the pier in Rye in the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Australia.
People visit the pier in Rye in the Mornington Peninsula last weekend after regional travel restrictions were lifted. Source: Getty Images

Locals say they have been thrown into confusion, with one publican labelling the new border closure "bloody stupid".

Apsley publican Robert Carberry told AAP his border community had already dealt with extreme frustration for eight months, and just as things were getting back to normal they had been "shot in the neck".

He said many locals had been tested for the virus 20 to 25 times - once for every weekly shop over the past several months in Naracoorte - just 20 minutes away on the SA side.

This compulsory testing stopped a fortnight ago and life got easier, but now Victoria's border closure has thrown the community into confusion.

Having finished with the SA permit system and now facing a Victorian permit system, he said: "It's ridiculous. It's absolutely bloody stupid.

"The people making decisions have no idea what effect those decisions are having on people in border communities."

A man enjoys the spring weather on Melbourne's St Kilda Beach.
A man enjoys the sun and sand at St Kilda Beach. Source: Getty Images

It is unclear whether Apsley Primary School will be open on Monday as it relies on teachers and about 40 per cent of its students being able to cross the border, Mr Carberry said.

The border shutdown was prompted by the unexpected detection of virus fragments in wastewater at the regional Victorian centres of Benalla and Portland.

Both locations are along freight corridors and the results emerged amid Adelaide's growing cluster, sparking a "circuit-breaker" lockdown in that city.

Victorian health authorities believe the virus fragments could either be from an active infection, or a recovered case who may still be shedding the virus.

People enjoy outdoor dining along the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia.
People dine at Melbourne's Yarra River. Source: Getty Images

Under the hard border, only freight drivers and those with medical or emergency reasons, as well as people authorised by law, such as child protection officers, will be able to cross the border.

More than 300 police will patrol the Victorian side of the SA border, from Mildura to Portland.

It's the first time Victoria has shut its border to any state during the pandemic.

The state is now preparing for the reinstatement of hotel quarantine, which sparked the second wave, when international arrivals resume on December 7.

Initially, the traveller cap will be 160 per day.

with AAP

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