Mildura test site swamped as virus spreads

·3-min read

Regional testing sites have been swamped after the coronavirus outbreak spread from Melbourne to Mildura on the northwest Victorian border.

A man in his 30s from Mildura tested positive on the weekend after going to the MCG to watch an AFL game, becoming the border town's first recorded case of COVID-19 since March 2020.

A close contact of the man has also tested positive.

Premier Daniel Andrews says exposure sites, which have soared past 300, now stretch from Phillip Island to the Mallee.

"This is from one end of the state to the other, literally," he told reporters on Monday.

Mildura testing sites were overrun on Monday as people queued in cars for hours, and one test location was forced to briefly close.

Mildura Mayor Jason Modica said apart from long queues to get tested, Mildura was "very quiet" as people followed stay-at-home rules.

"Everyone is very aware of what's going on," Mr Modica told AAP.

Mr Andrews said Mildura residents had "no need to be alarmed", but the owner of Stefano's cafe in Mildura, Ryan Casey, said it was a "shocking" situation.

"People are very worried locally, they are quite scared because they haven't had to experience it before," he told AAP.

"We have lived without the virus for 15 months."

His cafe is one of few still operating in the town, after three other coffee shops were listed as tier-one exposure sites.

Mr Casey said he would usually have up to 12 people on staff, but on Monday morning he was down to two staff serving takeaway coffees.

"We're tired of whingeing and complaining, there's nothing anyone can do," he said.

Meanwhile, queues for testing on and around Phillip Island in the state's southeast were down to about 30 minutes in most places after stretching to more than eight hours on Saturday.

There are more than 30 exposure sites listed for the popular tourist spot since two positive cases linked to the MCG exposure site visited the island with a group of friends.

Bass Coast Health chief executive Jan Child said pop-up sites at San Remo and Bass had helped ease wait times despite a dozen staff being forced into self-isolation for 14 days.

"We've been able to bolster the resources to get testing under control and it's been a really calm day today," she told AAP on Monday.

"We'll know in the next couple of days whether we've got any positive cases in Phillip Island. It's a good reminder for us not to be complacent."

Bass Coast Deputy Mayor Michael Whelan said people on the island had generally been complying with the rules, but noted some local businesses had closed because of the lockdowns.

On the Bellarine Peninsula, hundreds of people are still isolating after a Barwon Heads Primary School student tested positive last week.

In light of the fresh cases, Mr Andrews said it was "not possible" to release regional Victoria from strict lockdown rules any earlier than Melbourne.

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